28 May 2020

Large Murals and Other Attractions Were Once Inside the Sears Building

Various views of the Sears building today, May 2020.

The old Sears building at 754 S. State is on the demolition list.

Plans for the Sears building started in 1944 when Sears-Roebuck Co purchased about 6 acres of land, most of which was previously a baseball park (Cooley Park, then Lucas Field) where the SLC Skyscrapers played between 1911-1914.

Construction did not begin until after WWII ended, when materials and labor were available. The new store opened July 1947. The SLC mayor cut the ceremonial ribbon and more than 20K people browsed the new store on opening day. All 529 parking spaces were filled.

The new Sears featured a retail store, a cafeteria, snack bar, farm implement store, and a service station. It was also a new type of shopping experience as it was intentionally set outside the shopping district so that it could accommodate a large amount of parking.

Sears emphasized that they utilized local companies and workers to construct the new building. Architectural firm Ashton-Evans created the engineer drawings, Jacobson Construction did the building, Bennet Glass and Paint supplied the glass, and Salt Lake Cabinet and Fixture Company built the showcases and cabinets.

The store also featured 11 murals measuring 5x16 feet that depicted the history of the state. The murals were painted by Chicago artist Eugene A. Montgomery, who painted a number of these murals for Sears in various cities across the county.

Visit the Eugene Montgomery website to see all the murals in the SLC Sears as well as his work in other Sears buildings across the country. 

The Sears store closed Jan 2018. Architectural firm Sparano + Mooney has designed a mixed use affordable and market rate housing, commercial office buildings, retail center, and multistory boutique hotel that will replace the 8.5 acres Sears complex.

No word on if the taco carts will remain after redevelopment.

Grand opening SL Trib July 13 1947

Selection of 4 murals, originals would have been in color. From eugenemontgomery.com

Interior Sept 1947. Shipler Photo from UDSH.

Sears 1951, SL Trib negative from UDSH.

Sears Sign ca 1950s/1960s, from Marriot Library Special Collections

Cooley Park baseball field that occupied the Sears lot, 1911. Shipler 11904 from UDSH.

27 May 2020

House at 1902 S 400 East to be Demolished due to Earthquake

The house at 1902 S 400 East after the earthquake and before demolition, May 2020.

This house at 1902 S 400 East SLC is on the demolition list because of extensive damage from the earthquake on March 18, 2020.

This country estate was built in 1892 by prominent businessman and prominent Mormon, Septimus Wagstaff Sears. The SL County Assessor states the house was built in 1896 but newspaper articles and city directories clearly indicate a 1892 construction date.

Sears was a polygamist and in 1892 he re-married and legitimized his second polygamous wife, Isabella (they had already been married for 23 years and had 9 children together). Two weeks later Sears purchased a 5-acre lot and immediately started construction on this Eclectic Victorian Style house. The family moved from downtown to this area, then known as Waterloo. His first wife, Mary, stayed with her children at her house in the Avenues.

The Sears mansion boasted a private pond and a huge orchard which produced large peaches and other fruits. The house was conveniently located at the end of the Waterloo Streetcar line.

In 1903 Septimus Sears died in the house and in 1907 Isabella sold the house and moved closer to downtown.

The house was home to some unusual characters after the Sears family left. In 1907, Linus W. Timby lived in the home and he jumped to his death at St Marks hospital in a Typhoid Fever delirium. In 1908, the infamous Anna Bradley (side girlfriend and murderer or Senator Arthur Brown – that’s another story!) lived in near destitute conditions in the house with her four children.

The home was purchased by Heber Bennion in 1909 and he lived there running a cattle and sheep ranch until about 1915.

By the 1920s the house had been converted to apartments.

The current owners intended to renovate the historic home but the recent earthquake intervened in those plans.

26 May 2020

Capitol Motel at 1749 S State

Now and then: Now May 2020: Then is from SL Tribune July 2 1931

The Capitol Motel located at 1749 S. State Street is currently known as a sketchy property and is proposed for demolition and redevelopment. Its well-earned modern reputation was not always the case, when it was first built in 1931 it was nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood.

The Capitol was built by Marinus J. Gerrltse and his brother-in-law, Frank DeNigtre. Both were immigrants from Amsterdam and were previously in business together owning and operating the Wasatch Service Station at 1767 S. State, just south of the Capitol Motel (This 1929 building is still standing, although heavily modified; it is also proposed for demolition and redevelopment.)

Originally named the Capitol Tourist Apartments and Motor Lodge, this complex was designed by architects Lewis & Nelson and opened to the public in July 1931. This was one of the earliest motor lodges to open in this area of State Street.

The English Tudor style building featured 15 apartments for short or long-term rental, 14 of which boasted their own single-car garage.

Mr. Gerrltse was the general manager of The Capitol for a couple of decades. He mostly lived on site or in an adjacent house with his wife, and often various extended family.

About 1950 the garages of The Capitol were converted to additional motel units increasing its capacity to 21 units. It is also about this time that the two-story office building/cafe with additional units was built (it was later remodeled again to add a covered pool about 1961).

The Capitol is currently owned by the Housing Assistance Management Enterprise (HAME) which is a non-profit subsidiary of the Housing Authority of SLC. Redevelopment plans have been in the works since 2018.

Postcard ca. 1950s

 Postcard ca. 1960s.

SL County Assessor photos from a few years ago.
Note the sign which is no longer present.

SL County Assessor photos from a few years ago.
Note the sign which is no longer present.

May 2020.
May 2020.
May 2020.

25 May 2020

Oak Glen house at 1871 S 1300 East is on the demolition list

1871 S 1300 East SLC in May 2020
1871 S 1300 East SLC in May 2020

This home at 1871 S. 1300 East is on the demolition list. It is one of the earliest houses built in the Sugar House area of 1300 East.

The county assessor lists the house being constructed in 1912 but I found references to the house at least to 1907. At the time, this area was outside the SLC city limits.

This country home was built for lawyer Daniel Brigham Hill Richards and his wife (2nd marriage) Hester Cannon Richards, both from prominent Sugar House families. The Richards’ purchased the land from Jeffery Hodgson in 1903, a few months after they were married.

Daniel B. Richards named the property “Oak Glen.” The property featured a large garden area and an orchard in the back.

In 1919 Hester and Daniel divorced and Daniel B. moved to a small house on the back of the property while his ex-wife and son lived in the main house on 13th East.

Sometime in the 1920s the main house was converted to a duplex and Hester and their son Daniel C. lived on the north side (1869 S.) while Daniel B. and his new wife Aurelia lived on the south side (1871 S).

The house was sold about 1931 and Hester moved to the Marmalade area and Daniel B. moved to Paris.

The house was last used as triplex rental. This house and the adjacent apartment building to the north at 1861 S have applications to Salt Lake City for demolition.

Tax appraisal photo for1871 S 1300 East.
From Salt Lake County Assessor. No date.

1871 S 1300 East SLC in May 2020
Daniel Brigham Hill Richards
From History of Bench and Bar of Utah 1913
Hester Telle Cannon Richards from FindAGrave

22 May 2020

Selection of a few historic buildings to be demolished soon

To be demolished:

These are a small selection of the buildings with demolition permits in to Salt Lake City. None of these have historic protections so they will all likely be gone very soon.

21 May 2020

Fish Given to SLC's Poor in 1910s

Current view of the old warehouse distribution site
at 325 W. Pierpont Ave SLC. May 2020.

In February of 1915 and 1916, this former Hancock Brothers Warehouse at 325 W. Pierpont Ave was once the scene of a massive fish giveaway to Salt Lake’s poor.

Non-game fish (mostly carp, catfish, chubs, and suckers) were seined (fished with a net) from Utah Lake and shipped by rail to Salt Lake City.

The 1914 giveaway was organized by the state fish and game officials who offered to furnish up to 25 tons of fish for a penny a pound- the penny going to the fishermen for their work. Salt Lake County officials did not think they could distribute that much so they bought only 10 tons, enough to feed about 3,000 families for several days. The 10 tons cost the County $200 (~$5K in 2020 dollars).

The 1914 giveaway was so popular that the County purchased 15 tons of fish for the 1915 giveaway.

“When more than a thousand hungry men and women stand in line for hours to get a few fish that are given away, it throws the lie into the teeth of those officials who say there are no unemployment in Salt Lake” said a receiver of the 1915 giveaway.

The distribution of fish was quite orderly. A few policemen were on hand to keep the crowd inline, but their services were not needed. “Men and women, black and white, rubbed elbows in the crowd in apparent good nature and forgetting lines of color or of caste.”

Sources: Utah Lake: a safety net for the needy, By D. Robert Carter, Beehive History 27; SL Telegram 1915-02-08

The old Hancock Warehouse at 325 W Pierpont Ave, ca 2010
from loopnet, before the adjacent Pierpoint by Urbana was built.

News clipping from Salt Lake Telegram 1915-02-08.

18 May 2020

SLC's Huge Electric Sign

Auerbach Company and sign 1920, from UDSH
This large electric sign once hung at the intersection of Broadway (300 South) and State Street in Salt Lake City.

The sign was installed on July 10, 1916, and was the largest electric sign hung over any street in the U.S. up to that point (according to the Salt Lake Telegram). It measured 19 feet in diameter and swung 65 feet above the street. The sign was hung by 3 steel wire cables, 2 of which are 3/4 of an inch thick and the other is 1/2 inch thick.

The sign was in the form of a huge wheel with the hub representing the center of the shopping district; the spokes radiating from it the lines of industry; and the rim, revolving rapidly the symbol of commercial activity which characterizes the neighborhood. 

 Additionally, the words “Shopping Center” flashed on and off at regular intervals. The sign contained nearly 800 10-watt bulbs of various colors.

Electric signs were a novelty at the time, and this once was even more spectacular in that it rotated.

The sign was conceived by Herbert S. Auerbach and was an outcome of a plan by the Broadway Improvement Association and the State Street Improvement Association to promote that intersection’s businesses. The sign was made by the Intermountain Electric Company of SLC.

The sign hung at the intersection for several years and was removed sometime between 1920-1925.

Sources: SL Telegram July 11 & 16 1916.

Detail of sign 1920, from UDSH.

Local electrician James B. Pola standing above
the sign, SL Herald Republican July 12 1916.

14 May 2020

IHC Memorial Clinic was Once a Private Arboretum

Strevell Park was a popular
recreation spot, SL Trib 1923-08-05

What is now the IHC Memorial Clinic at 2000 S. 900 East was once a private arboretum owned by eccentric Salt Lake character Charles N. Strevell (1858-1947).

Strevell purchased the 2-acre parcel in 1911 and named it “St. Revell Park” which was a play on his own name.

Strevell hired Robert Frazer, the architect and superintendent of the famous Busch Gardens, to design and select all the plants and trees. Many rare and beautiful specimens of trees and flowers (including tropical species) were grown, several of which would ordinarily only be seen in greenhouses. 

It was Strevell’s original intention to have a specimen of every tree which would grow in this latitude. Most of the trees had labels with their botanical and common names.

Parley’s Creek flows through the property and Strevell added stone masonry walls along the streambank overhung by willows and flowers, arched foot bridges of stone and concrete, and a rustic bridge covered in a bower of wisteria. A small lily pond stocked with trout was also present. A grape arbor bounded the north and south of property.

Strevell planned to build several houses on the property and in 1913 he hired famed local architect Taylor A. Woolley, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, to design the houses.  None of these plans were ever built.  

In 1919 Strevell sold the property to Bettilyon Home Builders and they also planned to a subdivision and keep much of the greenery and park atmosphere. Several different plans were made but, for reasons I did not discover, the subdivision was never built.

Bettilyon did build one structure on the property in 1921: a 6-unit apartment complex which was named “Ensign Apartments at Strevell Park” was built on the north side of the property preserving much of the gardens and cobblestone lined creek. Plans for two additional apartment buildings were also drawn up but never built. Bettilyon’s plan was to sell these apartments under the “cooperative ownership plan” which we now know as condominiums. As far as I could tell, none of the apartments were ever sold under this plan but they were rented with very little vacancy.

In October 1925, Bettilyon announced it would sell the Strevell Park property to the highest bidder. The announcement stated they could not finance the 2 proposed apartment buildings and were going to cut their losses. The announcement further stated that $35K had been spent on the grounds and $50K on improvements. 

The property was sold to Willard B. Richards for $33K, who owned a lot of property around Parley’s Creek.

So began the next chapter…

Some of the housing plans drawn up in 1913 by Taylor A. Woolley, from Marriot Library

Housing plans drawn up in 1913 by Taylor A. Woolley, from Marriot Library

Bettilyon subdivision plans 1919, SL Trib 1919-09-14;

Images of Strevell’s private arboretum 1919, SL Trib 1919-08-03

Images of Strevell’s private arboretum 1919, SL Trib 1919-08-03

Auction announcement showing Ensign Apt building, SL Trib 1925-10-18

1950 Sanborn map showing apartment building, Parleys Creek, and lily pond. 

Origins of the Memorial Clinic on 900 East

Continued from previous post

The original Richards family plaque to the
"Pioneers of Medicine in Utah" still
hangs inside the IHC Memorial Clinic building.
In 1925, the 2-acre arboretum and apartment building located at 2000 S. 900 East was purchased by Willard B. Richards (1847-1942) at auction for $33K ($484K in 2020 dollars).

The Richards family is a prominent pioneer family in the Sugar House area and is known for their patriarch, Willard Richards (1804-1854), being the first western doctor in Utah. Richards intended to build 2 more apartment buildings on the property but as before these plans were never realized.

In 1952, two of Willard B. Richards sons decided to form a partnership and build a new type of medical facility (a multi-doctor practice, each with various specialties) on the property purchased by their father 27 year previous.

Willard B. Jr (1879-1965) was a prominent businessman in Sugar House and President of Granite Furniture and Dr. Paul S. (1892-1958) was a doctor who pioneered occupational health. They, and Paul’s daughter Dr. Lenore (1917-2000), established a non-profit: the Richards Memorial Medical Foundation. They built a new medical clinic on the south side of the property which they named the Memorial Medical Clinic after their many prominent physician ancestors.

The new medical building was a two-story red brick structure, divided into 7 clinical divisions. It opened to the public in Oct 1953. Parking for more than 100 cars was provided (this is probably when most of the greenery was removed).

Willard B. Jr, being a frugal contractor, did not build a boiler with the new clinic; rather, he ran heating pipes for the clinic building over to the apartment’s boiler room. The semi-subterranean apartment boiler remained even after the apartment building was demolished in ~1958.

In 1993, when Dr. Lenore was 76 years old, the Memorial Medical Center, Inc was dissolved. Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) purchased the property around this time, demolished the clinic building, and built the new clinic building currently located on the property. 

IHC also named their building the Memorial Clinic in honor of the Richards family of pioneer doctors.

Richards family memorial clinic ca. 1953, from
“Bingham Canyon Doctor” by Eric G. Swedin

Parleys Creek flowing through the Memorial Clinic at 2000 S 900 East.
The creek is daylighted in this section because it is a remnant of the Strevell Arboretum.

Parleys Creek as it appears at the Memorial Clinic.
I believe the lower cobblestone wall is an original remnant of the Strevell Arboretum.

Parleys Creek at Memorial Clinic.

Memorial Clinic at 2020 S 900 East. May 2020.

Memorial Clinic at 2020 S 900 East. May 2020.
Current building was constructed ca 1993.

12 May 2020

These Row House Apartments at 620 S Park St Housed Jewish Refugees after WWII

Historic Row Houses apartment building at 620 S Park Street SLC

This row house apartment complex located at 620 S Park Street was built in 1890 for Dr. Patrick J. McKenna and designed by Thompson & Weigel.

Dr. McKenna was an Irish allopath who, in 1890, had just moved to SLC from New Orleans and could not find any suitable (new, nice, and large) rental housing, so he and his wife built their own which they named Bellevue Terrace. Originally the complex consisted of 6 apartments of 7-rooms each.

In 1901, Dr. McKenna died in a freak accident in which he fell from a train in Parley’s Canyon during an Elks Club excursion to Park City. A few years later his widow married Dr. McKenna’s cousin and moved to Ireland, selling Bellevue Terrace.

Bellevue Terrace changed ownership and the name Bellevue was dropped around the time the street was renamed Park Street The complex was also remodeled into 22 studio apartments during the Great Depression.

Mary and Ben Davis purchased the apartment complex in 1946 and renamed it the Davis Apartments. Both Mary and Ben were Jewish immigrants from Europe (Mary from Lithuania and Ben from Austria) and they arranged through the United Jewish Appeal to rent the apartments to refugees from WWII concentration camps.

Their daughter, Helen Barr, took over ownership of the complex in 1984 and she received $224K from the SLC Redevelopment Agency (RDA) to rehab and remodel the building. The building was remodeled into a 12-unit apartment and renamed Mary’s Manor in honor of Ms. Barr’s mother.

Ms. Barr is still the owner of the apartment complex.

11 May 2020

The High Hat Law: First Bill Introduced by a Woman in the Utah Legislature

Eurithe K. LaBarthe (1850-1910)
Image from UDSH
Colorization by MyHeritage
Mrs. E. K. LaBarthe, as she was known by her peers in the Utah Legislature, was the first Utah woman to introduce a bill in the state legislature. On Jan 15, 1897, she introduced House Bill 13 which quickly became known in the press as the “High Hat Law.”

Eurithe K. LaBarthe (1850-1910) was elected to the first state legislature on Nov 3, 1896 as a representative of the 8th District of SLC. (Of note, Mrs. Sara E. Anderson from Ogden was also elected to the State Legislature and Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon was elected to the State Senate at that time.)

Prior to her election Mrs. LaBarthe was a relative newcomer to SLC arriving with her husband and child in 1892. She became well known in SLC as a clubwoman and served as president of the Ladies Literary Club in which she was instrumental in organizing the establishment of their first permanent clubhouse located at 20 S 300 East (now demolished).

Although the press, and some of her peers, scoffed at her High Hat Law, it did address a rather large social issue of the time- the wearing of large feathery hats that obstructed the view of others at the theater. 

Mrs. LaBarthe’s bill mandated that any person attending an indoor place of amusement must remove their headwear that may obstruct the view of any other person, violators could be fined from $1 to $10 ($30 to $311 in 2020 dollars). The bill passed both houses and became law upon the signature of Governor Wells.

She also introduced House Bill 50 to establish curfew for children, which was rejected as it being more suited for cities and towns to regulate. 

And she attempted to obtain the abandoned Industrial Home, a refuge for women and children fleeing polygamy, from the federal government for the State of Utah’s use in educational and charity work.

Soon after her work in the Utah Legislature she moved to Denver where she resided until her death. She died in SLC of pneumonia at the age of 65 on Nov 22 1910 while visiting her son. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

More info: “Gentle persuaders : Utah's first women legislators” by Jean Bickmore White. UHQ V38, N1 (winter 1970).
A "high hat" from the 1896 Sears Roebuck Catalog.

A "high hat" from the 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalog.

A "high hat" from the 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalog.

A "high hat" from the 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalog.