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.

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