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. 

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