30 April 2020

A WTF Photo from Utah Division of State History Collections

Ketchum Builders' Supply, Old Auerbach Bldg. Wrecking Crew, 2/18/35
From UDSH.

Here is another WTF photo from the digital archives of UDSH.

The description and my limited newspaper research reveal this is the wrecking crew from Ketchum Builders Supply Company that in February 1935 demolished the old Knutsford Hotel (which was also the old Auerbach building and the old Sears Roebuck building). 

The old Knutsford Hotel was located about 275 S State Street SLC.  The site is currently occupied by the Ken Garff Automotive Group Corporate Office Building at 111 E Broadway SLC.

So what is up with image 2, shown below? Was that something they salvaged from the hotel? And where did that thing eventually end up?

And, I like the gloves on the guy in image 3, below:

28 April 2020

Unique Modern Duplex at 475-477 9th Avenue SLC

Duplex at 475-477 9th Ave in SLC, April 2020.

This modernistic duplex in the Avenues of SLC was touted as “one of the most perfectly insulated new homes” when it was built in 1939.

So well-built and full of construction innovation, the structure was studied by the students of West High School’s vocational class the year it was constructed.

Located at 475-477 9th Avenue, the duplex was completed in April 1939 for owner John A. McMillan, who worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. It was designed by Fletcher K. Smith and built by Clarence Maurer construction. Mr. and Mrs. McMillan lived in one side of the duplex and they rented out the other for additional income.

Brick veneer was used to construct the duplex and 4 inches of air space left between the brick and sheeting was filled with heavy felt lining and rock wool for insulation. This method was seldom used at the time but was touted for its greater insulation efficiency and was reportedly soundproof.

Each side of the duplex had the same layout with a garage, bedroom, and bathroom on the first floor; the second floor had a living room, 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, and dinette. In the tower was a sewing room for each apartment.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, April 30 1939 p38 & 43

Duplex in 1939, from Salt Lake Tribune Apr 30 1939

27 April 2020

When Tom Sawyer Came to SLC, 1938

Sometimes I come across unusual photos that I think WTF is this about? Sometimes I can track down the events in the photo through research in old newspapers.
Actor Tommy Kelly promoting his film "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" in 1938.
Image from UDSH. Colorization done by ColouriseSG.

This is a photo of when the actor Tommy Kelly visited Salt Lake City to promote the opening of the Technicolor movie, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, where he played the title character. Tommy was a kid from the Bronx who was selected to play Tom Sawyer out of 25,000 boys who auditioned for the role.

A large SLC crowd and a band gathered to greet Tommy when he arrived May 27 1938. Tommy made numerous appearances around SLC over the next four days. He was described as polite and gracious while he gave autographs to all who asked.

This photo was taken in 1938 in front of Scott Hardware at 168 S Main, now the US Bank Building.

Detail. Note the fish.

17 April 2020

Anderson's Tower in the Avenues

Oldsmobile at Anderson's Tower 1919, From UDSH.
A medieval-looking tower once stood in the lower avenues of SLC at 6th Ave and A Street.

Anderson’s Tower, as it was named, was inspired by the Scottish heritage of its owner. In 1884, Robert R. Anderson (1848-1935), a Mormon who came to SLC in 1867 and was one of the original settlers of the Avenues area, endeavored to construct a tourist attraction in the spirit of Scottish “follies” (similar towers that Anderson had seen in Scotland as a boy).

Anderson built the round tower in 1884 out of granite remnants obtained from the quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon used to supply the Salt Lake LDS Temple. 

The 3-story tall tower measured 54 feet high and was 25 feet in diameter and boasted a spiral stairway that led individuals past windows on each floor up to the observation deck that was equipped with a telescope.

Anderson wanted his tower to be an observatory and hoped to charge people to climb to the top. Unfortunately, most people found that the view from the base of the tower was sufficient and the tower was not profitable; the tower was occasionally known as "Anderson's Folly.”

For 32 years, Anderson owned the 2 city blocks adjacent to the tower, between 6th and 8th Avenues. Anderson refused all offers to develop the property until 1908 when he sold the development rights to Stowe and Palmer Real Estate. Stowe and Palmer convinced Anderson to reopen the tower to use it as a sales gimmick to attract people to sell their housing plots.

The day that the Tower reopened to the public nearly 3,000 people turned out to view and climb the it. Eventually, the Tower fell into disrepair again and it was demolished in November 1932.

Currently a historic monument marks where the tower stood and the base is built with granite blocks originally used in the tower.

Anderson's Tower, "A" St. and 6th Avenue,
Salt Lake City. From UDSH.

Anderson's Tower and Memory Grove Park. From UDSH.

View from inside Anderson's Tower, 1926.
Looking at Utah State Capitol. From UDSH.

View from inside Anderson's Tower, 1926. From UDSH.

Plaque at the Anderson Tower Site, 315 A Street SLC. April 2020.

View of the Anderson Tower site in April 2020. The stones along
the circular concrete edge are remnants of the original tower.  

16 April 2020

Soda As Tall as the Walker Building

Sometimes I find the same photo in the Utah Division of State History's Digital Collections that was published in an old newspaper, as is the case here.

Girl at soda fountain, August 30th, 1914. 
Colorized by My Heritage.

This photo was published Sept 5 1914 in the Salt Lake Telegram and was titled “A Fair Soda Fan.” In the UDSH collections the photo is described as “Girl at soda fountain, August 30th, 1914. (Telegram). Shipler Commercial Photographers Collection, 15595.”

The accompanying article describes Salt Lakers spending $1M in just 3 months at local soda fountains at just over a nickel a drink.

The article also offers this statistic:
“If all the soft drinks sold in Salt Lake in the last 3 months were poured into one big glass made to hold all, the glass would have to be as large as the Walker bank building and it would be full to the brim.”
Girl at soda fountain, August 30th, 1914. 
Original from UDSH.

 Scanned Salt Lake Telegram newspaper article
From SL Telegram 1914-09-05

14 April 2020

Antonio Ferro: SLC Macaroni King

Antonio Ferro. From Utah Since Statehood 1919.
Colorization done by My Heritage

The Pasta King of Salt Lake City was Mr. Antonio Ferro (1872-1944), an Italian immigrant who built a pasta empire and made it fashionable for Utahans to eat spaghetti. 

Mr. Ferro was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1894 at the age of 22.  Initially he worked as a miner in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and then Mercer, Utah.  

In 1896 he gave up mining and moved to Salt Lake City where he established a small grocery store at 598 W. 200 South in what is now Old Greektown.  At some point Ferro started making pasta and selling it out of this small store.

In 1906 the Western Macaroni Manufacturing Co was incorporated with Antonio Ferro the Secretary and General Manager.  The company established their factory at 244 S 500 West, which is still standing.

In Oct 1909, Ferro and the company got into a bit of trouble.  Ferro was arrested and eventually found guilty for stealing $10 worth of electricity from Utah Power and Light by placing a “jumper” on an electric wire which carried the electricity past the meter.  According to newspapers this was a common practice for many at the time but Ferro was the first arrested and convicted for it.  The power company vowed to deploy special agents to inspect all power lines to see who else was engaged in this practice. 

By 1916 Western Macaroni was the largest company of its kind west of Chicago.  And it kept growing through the WWI years which caused imports to be cut off from Europe and people in America turned more towards domestic products.  The company doubled its capacity to fill the void mostly selling to foreign born peoples. 

By the end of WWI Western Macaroni had a daily capacity of 6 tons of pasta and 45 varieties under the label “Queen’s Taste.”  The factory had been expanded with manufacturing taking place on the ground floor, shipping and office on the 2nd floor, drying and storing on the 3rd, and storing of raw materials on the 5th floor.  At this time the company started publishing pasta recipes in the local paper and spaghetti and other pastas became more accepted outside the Italian American community.

By 1935 Ferro had bought out the other partners and was owner and manager of the business.  He retired in 1942 due to ill health; the company was dissolved at the same time. 

The Western Macaroni building is still standing and was recently rehabilitated to historic standards.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Advertisement, Salt Lake Tribune April 3 1912

Western Macaroni Manufacturing Co Building at 598 W. 200 South in April 2020.

Western Macaroni Manufacturing Co in 1927, From UDSH.

Western Macaroni Co., Interior of Packing Room 1924. From UDSH.

Western Macaroni Co., Presses 1924. From UDSH.

12 April 2020

Otto Branning: SLC Chili King

Otto Branning. From Men of Affairs
in the State of Utah 1914

A well-liked proprietor of several chili parlors in the early 1900s, Otto E Branning (1860-1927) was the self-proclaimed Chili King of Salt Lake City.

Chili is a dish that was born in San Antonio by Mexican immigrant women in the 1880s where they forged a new cuisine and business model by selling it by the bowl to passers-by. In 1893, the World’s Fair was held in Chicago and one of these “chili queens” debuted chili to the world. Chili parlors soon spread throughout the United States.

Branning was born in Indiana and at 13 years old he left for Chicago where he worked various jobs including selling beans at 10 cents a bowl. In 1901 he and his family moved to SLC and he established a small lunch stand. 

By 1903 he had upgraded his business to a full-service chili parlor located at 17 E. 200 South. By 1906, Branning’s Chili Parlor was the most popular chili places in SLC with locations at 315 S. Main Street and 36 E. 100 South.

Branning advertised nightly specials complete with “moving pictures and an orchestra” and unapologetically advertised his chili parlor as a rambunctious party place. He served chili con carne, tamales, Spanish veal stew, and limburger cheese.

In April 1910, Branning relocated from Main Street to the first floor of the Hotel Semloh. There was a saloon next door on the corner that had a window in the wall that could be opened into the chili parlor. Food could be passed from the chili parlor, if wanted, into the saloon and beer could be ordered from the saloon and consumed at the chili parlor.

In 1913 Branning wished to relocate to California. He sold his chili business to Sieger Springer. It was a very successful business for one year; then Branning decided to come back to SLC and in an underhanded manner he opened another chili parlor at 103 E. 200 South, just 118 feet away from Springer. This really hurt business and in 1914 the Springers sold their chili parlor.

Otto Branning continued to operate his chili parlor at 103 E. 200 South until he retired in 1922 and moved to Santa Monica, CA. His son, Ralph, stayed in Salt Lake and continued to operate Branning’s Chili parlor through the 1940s.

Advertisement, from SLC Directory 1905

Advertisement, Utah Daily Chronicle 1926-01-29

Update 23 June 2020: 
It seems as if Branning did another underhanded business deal with Mr. Abraham Mejia who started Salt Lake's first Mexican Restaurant. It was Abraham Mejia who taught Branning how to make chili and tamales but Branning ousted Abraham out of the business and they became competitors.

11 April 2020

Taijiro Kasuga: SLC Strawberry King

 Taijiro Kasuga from UDSH.
Colorization by MyHeritage
Inspired by TigerKing, I’m going to highlight some of the Kings of Salt Lake City.

First up is the Strawberry King: Mr. Taijiro Kasuga. 

Taijiro Kasuga was a Japanese immigrant who developed and patented a new variety of strawberry in 1926.

Tijiro Kasuga immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1895 and came to Utah in 1901. A believer in luck and that someone was looking after him, Kasuga worked as a cook at a mining camp in Alta in 1909 when he got into an argument with his boss and quit; a week later, an avalanche buried the camp and killed the new cook in his cabin.

Kasuga turned to farming, especially strawberries. He and his family tried several locations: Butlerville (now Cottonwood Heights), Murray, Granite, and Union (now Ft Union). Kasuga’s had difficulty farming in Butlerville and Murray due to drought, early frost, and alkaline soil; his attempts to farm strawberries in Granite and later in Union thrived.

After 10 years of experimenting Kasuga developed his own variety of strawberry by crossing the Berri-Supreme with the Rockhill; he named it the Twentieth Century Everlasting. The Century was highly favorable, prolific, and stayed fresh during shipping. Kasuga patented it in 1926 and made it available to commercial growers in 1932.

In 1940, the Century became highly publicized as one of the best strawberry varieties available. Unfortunately, soon thereafter the US became involved with WWII and sentiments toward Japanese living in the US turned suspect. 

The Kasuga family became a victim of this mistrust, especially since their farm at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon contained an open pipeline with access to Sandy City’s water source. Many neighbors felt that the Kasuga’s would sabotage the water system and pressured Kasuga's landlord to evict him but the landlord felt Kasuga was an honorable man and that he would not be evicted.  After the war, the Kasuga family settled in Sandy.

Although the Twentieth Century strawberry is no longer common its descendant the Ozark Beauty is. The Ozark Beauty variety is a crossbred of the Twentieth Century and the Red Rich varieties and is one of the most common strawberry varieties available to Salt Lake City home gardeners.

Update May 17 2021:
Check out this SLC History Minute on Taijiro Kasuga.

09 April 2020

SLC Once Had an Ostrich Farm

Ostrich at Liberty Park Zoo ca. 1915, likely one of the ostriches
acquired from the Salt Lake Ostrich Farm. Image from UDSH.

An ostrich farm once inhabited what is now Warm Springs Park at 840 N 300 West in Salt Lake City.

In July 1914, Mr. Lafayette M. Hughes visited SLC and determined that the local climate and tourist industry would lend itself to a profitable ostrich farm. Mr. Hughes had established several ostrich farms in other states and was a self-described promoter of the industry.

Mr. Hughes negotiated a sub-lease from SLC of 2 acres of land surrounding the Warm Springs Plunge building. On Aug 17, 1914, 21 ostriches arrived by train from Los Angeles and were transported by van to their new home.

The following Saturday the ostrich farm opened to the public with admission being 25 cents. The farm was a combination leisure attraction and feather factory. Feathers were plucked every 8 months with an annual profit of $200 per bird, per year ($5,200 in 2020 dollars).

In the 1910s ostrich feathers were quite fashionable and organizations such as the Audubon Society encouraged the use of ostrich feathers over the other birds because they could be harvested without killing the bird. A shop at 21 E 300 South, named the Style Shop, was established to sell the ostrich feathers directly to the public.

The good times for the Salt Lake Ostrich Farm didn’t last very long and it soon began liquidating its assets. In June 1915 the SLC Zoo, then located in Liberty Park, purchased 3 ostriches from the farm for $400 each. And the popular Wandamere Resort (now Nibley Park Golf Course) made arrangements to obtain 11 of the ostriches (4 of them died due to improper care resulting in a lawsuit).

The last mention of the Salt Lake Ostrich Farm was March 21, 1917, with a notice in the local papers of delinquent taxes.

Warm Springs Park April 2020.
Newspaper advertisement, SL Telegram Sep 12 1914

Ostrich feather hats on Utah women, 
From Harold B. Lee Library BYU.

Ostrich feather hats on Utah women,
From Harold B. Lee Library BYU

Ostrich feather hats on Utah women, 
From Harold B. Lee Library BYU

07 April 2020

The Grabeteria: Salt Lake's Standing Room Only Cafe

Interior of Grabeteria from Deseret News Feb 10 1945

The Grabeteria was a unique downtown eatery located at 60 S. Main Street (now demolished and replaced with the City Creek complex). It opened in 1913 by a man named Art Davis when competition from a national chain grocery store put his small fruit and grocery store out of business.

The Grabeteria didn’t have any chairs or tables, it was a stand-up restaurant where people stood shoulder to shoulder. Current newspaper and magazine articles were pasted on the walls which often stimulated respectful discussions among the patrons.

Customers were responsible for grabbing and assembling their own food – sandwiches, salads, or a bowl of chili. The restaurant operated on the honor system. Customers paid on their way out and paid what they felt the meal was worth. A tray with coins was set at the door so people could make their own change. If the management suspected a customer did not pay, then a large gong (and later a cowbell) was sounded to embarrass the patron.

The Grabeteria catered to all types of people: LDS church apostles, professional men, and day-laborers. Women were not allowed, at least in the first few decades. Some patrons commented that the Grabeteria diminished once women were allowed in and the stag atmosphere was tempered. There were still pin-up girl posters glued to walls through the 1950s so some of that stag ambiance remained despite the female presence.

Art Davis sold the restaurant in Dec 1944 and it changed hands a few times after that. The Grabeteria closed for good in 1977.

 Exterior of Grabeteria in 1925 from University of Utah
Special Collections via Salt Lake Tribune July 7 2015

Exterior of Grabeteria (lower left corner) in 1949 from UDSH.

Grabeteria advertisement for special retro menu.
From Deseret News Mar 29 1954

06 April 2020

Daughters of the American Revolution Fountain now in Liberty Park

 Fountain as it is today in Liberty Park
This 115-year-old drinking fountain has a history of dysfunction.

Originally it was located in front of the Salt Lake City Public Library (now O. C. Tanner building at 15 S State St). It was donated to Salt Lake City by the SLC chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

The fountain was designed by the son of a local DAR member who was an art student at Princeton. It was then made in Vermont at a cost of $650 (about $19K in 2020 dollars). It is made of Gray Vermont Granite with the emblems of the DAR on two sides. On the other two sides read: “Erected by the Spirit of Liberty Chapter, D. A. R.” and “D. A. R., designed by W. M. Allen.” Cups were supplied to dip into the water trough and a separate drinking trough for dogs is at the base.

It was dedicated on Nov 18 1905 with much ceremony and the Fort Douglas regimental band provided music.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. Shortly after the fountain had been installed one of the pipes burst and the fountain sat idle for months because of a dispute between the plumber and the City.

In June 1908 the City determined that the plumbing design was defective and the water bowl of insufficient depth. The DAR intended to repair the fountain but enough funds were never raised.

By July 1910 the fountain still had not been fixed and the SLC Committee on Sanitation recommended that the fountain be shut off permanently.

In Nov 1921 the fountain had fallen into further disrepair and the City Commission decided to move it to Liberty Park. Plans were made to reconstruct it and to make it a bird and dog fountain but, true to its past, enough funds were never raised and it was never repaired.

Today it remains a civic ornament and is on display in a flower bed at Liberty Park.

Sources: DAR Magazine V28 and various historic newspaper articles.

 Fountain as it is today in Liberty Park
 Fountain as it is today in Liberty Park
 Fountain as it is today in Liberty Park

Fountain as it appeared just after installation in 1905, from UDSH.

Fountain as it appeared just after installation in 1905. From DAR Magazine V28 3

Update April 5 2021: 
The Utah State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution have a blog post about this fountain. 

03 April 2020

Porter-Walton Co is Now Western Garden Centers

Seed display case from Porter-Walton Co, 1920.
Image from UDSH. Colorization by MyHeritage

It's time to get my garden seeds planted!

Here is a seed display case from Porter-Walton Co. from 1920. Porter-Walton began in 1905 in Salt Lake City and eventually evolved into what we now know as Western Garden Centers. 

02 April 2020

Salt Laker was the Victim of the Chicago Trunk Murder Mystery

Image of the body from the Chicago Trunk Mystery
as published in the Boston Medical
and Surgical Journal 1898 V139 p 466-467
In 1896 headlines splashed all over the country about the “Chicago Trunk Mystery.” 

The body of Mr. Prospier Chazal (he was French) was found stuffed in a trunk in a large warehouse in Chicago. The last place Mr. Chazal was seen alive was Salt Lake City in 1893, three years previous.

On Feb 16, 1893, a large box marked “Household Goods” arrived in Chicago from Salt Lake City. A Chicago address was written on the box but no one there knew anything of it and refused delivery (and the associated fees). 

The box was eventually sent to a storage warehouse where it remained until March 25, 1896, when it was sold at auction as unclaimed freight.

Two businessmen purchased the box for $14.50 ($447 in 2020 dollars) thinking the contents might be a stove they could resell. What they found was a dead body with a thick rope fastened about the knees and neck and the head bent to the chest. Two fractures were also found on the skull. The body was stuffed snugly inside a 32x22x18 inches zinc case with the lid soldered closed. The zinc case was in a trunk which was wrapped in an oil cloth and then placed in a wood box with sawdust.

The identity of the body was ultimately narrowed down to Prosper Chazal or Oliver Pike. At the coroner’s inquest in 1896 it was proven that Pike was seen alive after the trunk was shipped (and again alive in 1897) yet Pike’s relatives were persuasive and the body was declared to be that of Oliver Pike. (A body was required in a probate case involving Pike’s relatives and allegations of bribes paid to the coroner’s jury soon surfaced.) The body was handed over to Pikes relatives and buried in Fayette, OH.

However, most people believed the body was truly that of Prosper Chazal, a French man who was a saloon-keeper on Franklin Ave (now Edison St) in Salt Lake City. 

It was thought that Chazal met with foul play after flaunting large amounts of money and diamonds around downtown Salt Lake.

Sources: Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 1898 V139 p 466-467 (including image); various historic newspaper articles.