03 September 2021

House at 235 South 600 East Salt Lake City

235 South 600 East Salt Lake City
This house at 235 S 600 East will be getting some much-needed love and attention. Yesterday (2 Sept 2021) the SLC Historic Landmark Commission (HLC) approved the current owner’s plans to add an addition to the back of the house and move forward with repairs and historic rehabilitation for the rest of the house. Because it is in the Central City local historic district any modifications must be made in consultation with the HLC to ensure they are appropriate.

The house was initially built sometime in the 1880s. The first occupant I could find was Dr. Lorin Hall, the SLC Physician, who lived in the house with his family between about 1887-1893. A funny story relating to his time in the house pertains to Dr Hall trying to grow grass in the front yard for nearly a year when his neighbor’s cow got loose, opened the gate with one of her horns, and walked into his front yard to munch and trample the grass.

Hiram Johnson owned the house between about 1895 and 1900. While in SLC Hiram ran a wholesale grocery business and served on the SLC school board. Of note, his obituary states that as a young man he was a follower of the abolitionist John Brown and part of the militant actions in Kansas prior to the Civil War (John Brown was portrayed by actor Ethan Hawke in the 2020 miniseries @thegoodlordbird).

The next significant occupant was Charles S. and Florence Varian who owned and lived in the house between 1908-1927. Charles was a US Attorney who, during the Utah Territorial days, vigorously prosecuted polygamists making him quite hated among the Mormons of SLC. He was booed by Mormon women in the Tabernacle and in 1885 when living in a townhouse (called Reggels Row) his home was bombarded with jars of feces, breaking the front window and splattering the filth throughout the parlor. By the time he moved into this house the days of polygamy were mostly over and he was largely respected by Mormon and Non-Mormons alike.

After the Varians died the house was sold and converted to apartments. A 1980 historic survey of the house listed it in good condition. A 1992 sales advertisement stated it needed some work. The house seems to have been in decline since the 1990s.

SL Democrat 1885-09-14; Des News 1888-07-03; SL Herald 1900-05-06; SL Trib 1908-05-13; SL Trib 1992-09-07; Sanborn maps, various records on Ancestry.com; HLC staff memo.

235 S 600 East in 1980. Image from HLC staff memo.
235 S 600 East about 1935. Image from HLC staff memo.

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