27 April 2021

Bissinger Warehouse, 737 S 400 West

Bissinger (Left); Friendship Inn (Middle); Pickle Co. (Right). April 2021

Bissinger & Co Building at 737 S 400 W SLC.

This building is located just north of the Grant Soap/Utah Pickle Co (741 S 400 W; built 1893) and the Friendship Inns Supply (739 S 400 W; built 1937).

The Bissinger Building was constructed in 1919 specifically for the needs of this hide, wool, and tallow company. Bissinger & Co was founded in 1880s in Oregon and expanded to SLC in 1908. John “Jack” McCarty, an Ogden native, was the general manager of the SLC facility until his death in 1950.

This block along what is now 400 West and between 700-800 South was transformed from a residential farming to an industrial area by the installation of the Oregon Shortline Railroad along 400 West in the 1880s. The area is now known as the “Warehouse District” or “Granary District” of SLC.

The first industrial building on the block was the Utah Pickle Co, originally built as the Grant Soap Works, by Heber J. Grant in 1893.

By the time Bissinger was built in 1919 most of the buildings along 400 West were industrial properties and multiple rail spurs were in existence throughout the block connecting the warehouses to the railroad.

In June 1961, a fire occurred in AAA Textile Co, which at that time occupied the small building (now the Friendship Inns Supply), between the Bissinger Building and the Utah Pickle Co. The fire spread to both adjacent buildings with the Utah Pickle Co receiving the most extensive damage including the collapse of the roof on the rear addition.

Bissinger & Co. likely moved out soon after the fire and the entire company closed all locations in the West by 1965.

As of this posting, the Bissinger warehouse and the Pickle building will not be demolished. I reached out to the demolition company listed on the demo application permit which is in to SLC for review, and they were able to clarify that the Bissinger Building (and the Pickle Factory building) are NOT planned for demolition at this time.  The owner plans to demolish the Friendship Inns Supply building (739 S 400 W; built 1937) and the 1970s and 1980s additions to the Bissinger Building that wrap around the east and north part of the original 1919 portion of the building.

Bissinger (Left); Friendship Inn (Middle); Pickle Co. (Right). April 2021

Bissinger 2006, from ipernity

SL Telegraph June 11 1919

SL Trib Nov 16 1919

SL Trib Dec 8 1918

SL Trib Nov 3 1929 (L) and SL Trib Feb 23 1936 (L)

Portions to be demolished shown with black arrows: the Friendship Inns Supply building (739 S 400 W; built 1937) and the 1970s and 1980s additions to the Bissinger Building that wrap around the east and north part of the original 1919 portion of the building.

Portions to be demolished shown outlined in blue.

23 April 2021

Salt Lake's Rotary Jail

Salt Lake County Jail from UDSH.
Colorized by My Heritage
When I first read about Salt Lake’s Rotary Jail, I though “Wait, what? The Rotary Club had a jail?” Nope, not at all....

Located in what is now the downtown SLC Post Office parking lot, the Salt Lake County Jail was built in 1888 at 268 West 200 South.

This was the second jail to be built in SLC and replaced the single-story dilapidated adobe structure built in 1857 which was prone to jailbreaks. The County wanted the best technology that would reduce prison breaks and the patented Rotary Jail system seemed to be the ideal solution.

The rotary plan promised maximum security and maximum efficiency. Author Douglas Miller described the Rotary Jail system as a looking like “a two-tiered lazy Susan with each platform divided into 10 pie shaped cells.” 

The entire cellblock could be rotated and would align to a single door. The jail could also be set to slowly revolve continuously for extra security. The entire system could be manned by a single guard.

The front of the building housed the County Sheriff and his family while the back of the building contained the Rotary Jail as well as standard jail cells.

The Rotary Jail seemed to work great for several years and true to its promise very few prisoners escaped. One successful escape was in 1907 when Charles Riis sawed through the bars of his cell and an outer window.

Concerns about prisoner safety are eventually what shut down the rotary jail. Accidents to prisoner’s limbs were commonplace in many of the Rotary Jails across the country and in the event of a fire it would be nearly impossible for a guard to release the prisoners in a timely manner.

A new jail was built in 1909 and the Rotary Jail was shut down. It was demolished in 1927.

Source: The Salt Lake County Rotary Jail by Douglas K Miller, UHQ V75 N4.

Side view showing residence in front and jail in back Des News Mar 1 1902

Rotary cell with inmates (notorious) Peter Mortensen and J.J. Riley. Des News Mar 1 1902

Two-story rotary jail cell in Crawfordsville, Indiana;
similar in design to Salt Lake's jail. HAER image

SLC 1898 Sanborn map clipping

20 April 2021

Fred L Parker House slated for demolition, 320 S 400 East

House at 320 S 400 East, April 2021

This house at 320 S 400 East is also slated for demolition, along with the English Lutheran church I posted about a few days ago. Both buildings will be demolished for the new development called “TAG 324 L’Oriol Plaza Condos.”

The house was built in 1893 for Fred L. Parker (1879-1938), a lumber dealer in SLC.

Fred experienced several losses in this house. His wife Lizzie died suddenly sitting in a chair in the house in June 1894. He soon remarried a young widow, Celia, with 2 children; her teenage daughter died of infection in the house Sept 1895. Then his baby son, Marshall, died in June 1896.

In 1900 the house and 3 other nearby homes were purchased by widow Emma Hanson as investment properties for her 4 minor children. The entire Hanson family lived in this house for a decade while renting out the other properties for income. After Emma’s youngest child was grown, she sold this house to H C Edwards in 1910.

Edwards used the property as a rental and through the years it was used both as primary residence and as a rental by various other people. In 1938, Susie V Marx added an addition to the back of the house.

By the 1970s the house had been converted to an office and by the mid-1980s it was being used as a salon.

David Anthony Sargeant ran a high-end salon out of the house through the 1980s and 1990s. In Sept 1987 arsonists set fire in the basement of the house which spread to the upper stories. Sargeant rebuilt his business and the house, working with architects Max Smith and Kin Ng.

Up until a few months ago, this house was being used as an office space for STM Associates; the property was sold in Jan 2021.

17 April 2021

Historic English Lutheran Church (former Ichiban Sushi) Slated for Demo, 336 S 400 E

English Lutheran church in 2018 when it was Ichiban Sushi Restaurant, 336 S 400 East.  From Marriott Library.

This historic church has a demolition permit into SLC for review.

The church at 336 S 400 East was built for the English Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity, commonly known in SLC as the English Lutheran church. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were 4 Lutheran churches in SLC: Swedish, English, Danish, and German.

Plans were made to build a church for the small congregation in 1890, land was purchased in 1892, the first cornerstone laid in 1893, and church was dedicated in 1894. The church was built entirely by donations, primarily from women, and primarily from people in the Eastern U.S.

The church originally featured 10 stained glass windows, the interior was finished in cedar, the pulpit furniture made of oak, and pews were attached to the walls. The Reverend’s quarters in the rear of the church.

The English Lutheran congregations was always small, and they never were able to attain financial independence. In 1912 the English Lutheran church disbanded and was absorbed by the St John’s Evangelical Lutheran church in SLC which held bilingual services in German and English. This congregation still has its 1937 church building at 1030 S 500 East.

In 1913 the Reorganized LDS church (Josephites) purchased the church and used it until the mid-1960s, they relocated to a new building in 1967 at 2747 E 3640 S.

In 1967, the old church was renovated for adaptive reuse as an Italian restaurant. The entrance porch was added, the Reverend’s living quarters were transformed into a kitchen, the pews became benches around tables, the choir loft became a waiting area, and the baptismal font became a fountain for which the restaurant was named. Ristorante Della Fontana occupied the church between 1967-1998.

In 1998 Ichiban sushi moved into the church, relocating from their Park City location. Ichiban is notable for chef Peggi Whiting, the first woman allowed to study sushi preparation under the direction of Master Inou. Whiting added a sushi bar and other Asian accents but largely kept the church intact. Ichiban closed Oct 2017.

The old church and the house just to the north will demolished and will be replaced with 60 housing units named TAG 324 L’Oriol Plaza Condos.

Interior 2017, from foursquare

Interior stained glass, from yellowbot

Exterior stained glass, 2021

Exterior side stained glass windows, 2020

Exterior side stained glass windows, 2020

Exterior side stained glass windows, 2020

Interior stained glass 2017, from Yelp

Stained glass windows on south side have been removed, 2021

As the Josephite church, ca 1920s, from Marriott Library

14 April 2021

Marble Tournaments

Clipping from SL Trib 1929-04-21

Marble tournaments for kids used to be a big thing in SLC.

The Salt Lake Telegram sponsored the first formalized SLC citywide marble tournament in April 1923.

Tournaments were held in city parks and schoolyards during school’s Spring Break with trophies offered to the winners.

The official rules did not indicate the game was to only be played by boys, but that was generally who entered. I saw a few instances of girls playing in national tournaments but none in the local SLC games (girls may have played in SLC and it just was not reported in the newspapers).

By the early 1930s SLC had taken over sponsorship of the marble tournaments and thousands of children entered the contest each year. Semi-finalists who won at each regional city park or schoolyard advanced to the finals, which were generally played at Liberty Park.

By 1935 the marble tournament (for boys) was combined with the hopscotch tournament (for girls) and competitions were jointly held.

After WWII the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) became a co-sponsor and helped with judging the competition.

The marble tournaments continued through the late 1960s by which time Salt Lake County Recreation had taken over sponsorship.

Marble tournaments declined in SLC during the 1970s.

Although marble tournaments still occur, they are no longer a SLC sponsored event.

SL Telegram 1931-04-01

SL Trib 1932-03-26

SL Trib 1933-04-09

SL Trib 1938-04-08

SL Trib 1942-04-12

SL Trib 1946-03-30

SL Trib 1948-06-04

SL Trib 1951-04-11

SL Trib 1963-05-05

13 April 2021

International Peace Garden Cherry Tree Fiasco

Japanese Garden at SLC International Peace Gardens, ca. 1951. From UDSH

Importing cherry trees from Tokyo for planting at SLC’s International Peace Garden resulted in an international fiasco.

On July 11 1950, the Japanese garden of the International Peace Garden (IPG) was formally dedicated located in Jordan Park just off 900 West (1160 Dalton Ave SLC). It was the first garden section to be developed in the IPG and was developed in cooperation between SLC and the Japanese-American community of SLC.

Included in the dedication was a letter from the Japanese people in Tokyo promising a gift of 3,000 cherry trees to arrive in the fall.

It was largely through the efforts of Tokyo’s Mr. Tomatsu Murayama in which items from Japan were donated to the SLC garden. He secured the donation of the 17th-century stone lanterns that currently adorn the garden and he arranged shipment to SLC through General MacArthur’s office in Tokyo.

He also arranged for the boy scouts of Tokyo to raise money to buy the 3,000 cherry trees destined for SLC’s new IPG.

Murayama sent word to SLC that he was going to send the first shipment of 1,000 cherry trees by air as they would arrive in better condition than if by sea. Just as he had done with the stone lanterns, he shipped the trees payable on delivery assuming SLC would pay the freight as they had before.

The cherry trees arrived in Seattle and SLC was notified of the $1,482 freight bill (~$15K today) by Pan American Airlines. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) then notified SLC that new customs regulations prohibited the entry of the trees due to potential diseases they may introduce to domestic crops. The USDA stated that the Japanese government was informed of these new requirements 2 days before the shipment of the trees.

Some members of Congress got involved to see if a waiver could be obtained but ultimately the gifted cherry trees were burned at the Seattle city dump on Friday the 13th of April 1951.

As SLC never received the trees the City refused to pay the freight charge. Mr. Murayama then understood the bill to be his responsibility. Not having the 500,000 yen, he needed to mortgage his house in Tokyo to pay the bill. Even then, the SLC Commissioners refused to pay the bill.

Mayor Glade and the SLC Boy Scouts then formed a committee to raise the funds to pay the freight bill. Within a couple months enough money was raised to more than cover the bill. By that time Pan American Airlines had cancelled the debt.

There was enough money raised to purchase 1,000 new cherry trees for the IPG (from a domestic source) and to purchase camping equipment to send to the Boy Scouts in Tokyo. In March 1952 the Boy Scouts of Tokyo were presented with 275 camping tents from the Boy Scouts of SLC at a ceremony in Tokyo’s Hibiya Public Hall and with the participation of the US military

The cherry trees were planted in the Japanese garden and along the west bank of the Jordan River. However, all these trees died or were stolen. Replacement cherry trees were added to the Japanese garden in 1988.

A note: Murayama was born in Seattle but had gone to Japan and was drafted into the Japanese Army during WWII, as such he lost his American citizenship. After WWII he revived the Boy Scouts movement in Japan.  

Sources SL Telegram 1950-07-08; SL Trib 1951-03-20; Des News 1951-04-29, SL Telegram 1951-04-16; IPG NRHP form.

Japanese Garden at SLC International Peace Gardens, June 2019

12 April 2021

The History of the Japanese Cherry Blossoms at the Utah State Capitol

Blooming cherry tree at Utah State Capitol, probably the Kwanzan variety. ca 1940s. From UDSH. 

The History of the Japanese Cherry Blossoms at the Utah State Capitol begins 100 years ago.

The construction of the Utah State Capitol was completed in 1916 and a special tree planting ceremony on April 15 1916 was planned to start beautifying the grounds. The first tree planted was a Norway Maple and several hundred of other trees followed, each planted by a distinguished member of the government or citizenry.

For this event in 1916, Mr. Shiro Iida, publisher of the Japanese newspaper Rocky Mountain Times in SLC, ordered several Japanese evergreens from California to be planted around the State Capitol.

The first reference that I could find to Japanese cherry trees was in March 1921 when the Japanese Association of Utah gifted the state with 4 Yoshino and 3 Fugenzo blooming cherry trees which were then planted by the state’s landscape gardener on the State Capitol grounds.

Additional cherry trees were planted in 1931, some donated by the Intermountain Japanese Association and some purchased by the State of Utah.

Throughout the 1930s cherry trees were donated to the capitol grounds by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) of Utah, many of the trees were the Kwanzan variety with large double pink flowers.

When WWII began, the Japanese cherry trees on the State Capitol grounds were vandalized and security patrols were implemented 1943-1945.

By the mid-1950s, the cherry trees were struggling due to lack of caretaking and early frosts.

In 1958, Governor Clyde accepted 36 cherry trees from the JACL of Utah. JACL chapters in California also contributed to this gift to memorialize the Japanese who died in the Topaz Internment Camp during WWII.

During the Capitol renovation 2004-2008 the trees were removed, and several hundred Yoshino variety of cherry trees were planted around the Capitol grounds.

Sources: SL Telegram 1916-04-14; SL Trib 1921-03-19; SL Telegram 1931-04-12; SL Trib 1935-02-24; SL Trib 1958-05-05; Utah.gov

Of Note: I have seen some histories of the cherry trees at the Utah State Capitol indicate that the cherry trees were donated by the government of Japan as a symbol of friendship and reconciliation immediately following WWII. I found no primary sources to support this statement. There is an interesting history of an ordeal concerning importing of cherry trees from Japan for the establishment of the International Peace Gardens adjacent to the Jordan River in the early 1950s that I will tell in a separate post. As far as I can tell, all the cherry trees on the state capitol ground (past and present) were either purchased by the State of Utah or donated by SLC Japanese American residents, but always purchased from a domestic vendor.

11 April 2021

The Elks Demolished Two Historic Mansions to Build Their Clubhouse on South Temple


Brigham Young’s residence on South Temple, known as "The White House" about 1911. From UDSH.

The Elks demolished 2 mansions to build their Clubhouse at 139 E South Temple: Brigham Young’s “White House” and the Philo T Farnsworth mansion were both razed in July 1921.

Brigham Young’s White House was constructed 1850-1854 and was part of the 20-acre (2 city blocks) estate of Brigham Young’s complex, of which the Beehive House, the Lion House, and Brigham Young cemetery remain. It was considered the first mansion built in SLC.

The house was a white plastered adobe, temple-form building that mainly housed the eldest wife of Brigham Young, Mary Ann Angell Young and her children. When Brigham Young was the first territorial Governor this was the house that he hosted many esteemed visitors as it was built before the Lion House or the Beehive House.

There was an effort to preserve the White House spearheaded by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and later joined by the Association of Utah Architects along with a petition signed by several hundred SLC residents. They hoped to be able to move the historic home to a new site but funds could not be made available (and the DUP reported that the First Presidency of the LDS church was unable to assist in preservation efforts).

The mansion of Philo T. Farnsworth (half-uncle to the Philo T Farnsworth who invented the TV) was only a few decades old at that point having been built in 1889 by Priscilla Jennings, after her husband William Jenning’s death. It was considered one of the first grand mansions of South Temple. Farnsworth was a member of the Elks club and had moved out of the mansion by 1915, and it seemed that no fuss was made about the demolition of the Farnsworth home. 

Sources: SL Telegram 1921-07-03; SL Telegram 1921-03-02; Brigham Street by Margaret D. Lester

The images below are all of Brigham Young's White House, exterior and interior. no date. From UDSH.

The images below are all of the the Farnsworth Mansion (originally built by Priscilla Jennings) on South Temple. no date. From UDSH.