31 December 2021

Some historic buildings that were saved from demolition in 2021

These are some of the historic buildings that were saved from demolition in 2021! Visit @demolishedsaltlakepodcast for some buildings that were lost this year.

Descriptions clockwise from the upper left corner:

1. Hyland Exchange, 847 S 800 E SLC. It will be converted to housing. But, 2 Victorian homes were demolished.

2. The Annex Apts, 150 E South Temple SLC. A project plans to rehab the Annex but it also demolished the Carlton Hotel next door.

3. Elks Block, 139 E South Temple SLC. Most buildings will be preserved, the Elks building will be renovated, the Elks tunnel entrance will be partially preserved.

4. House at 235 S 600 E SLC. The owner plans to add an addition to the back of the house and start repairs and rehab of the rest of the house.

5. Utah Pickle and Hide buildings at 737-741 S 400 W SLC. Some selective demolition has occurred but the main buildings are planned to be rehabbed.

6. Central Warehouse at 520 W 200 S SLC. The back half of the building has been demolished; the remaining front is to be integrated into a multi-use development.

7. These 5 houses on 200 East were subject to a rezone application which would result in their demolition. The rezone was not approved, and the houses are now being repaired.

8. 15th Ward Chapel at 915 W 100 S SLC was listed for sale which could have resulted in demolition; it was purchased by the Utah Arts Alliance and is now known as the Utah Art Castle.

9. Redwood Drive-In and Swap Meet at 3688 S Redwood WVC was proposed for demolition for a large housing project. Largely due to the backlash from the swap meet community the prospective owner decided to cancel the sale and development.

10. University of Utah’s Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse has undergone a seismic retrofit and will be converted to a theater.

11. Apt complex at 230 West 300 North SLC will be preserved while the area behind it will become additional multi-family housing.

It is important to note that only 2 of these projects had local historic preservation requirements for the property. All the others were only preserved because the owners desired it.

A big thanks to the owners, architects, engineers, and builders who all worked to keep some of Utah’s history standing.

24 December 2021

Christmas at Bonneville Tower 1968

Happy mid-century modern Christmas! This lovely (and lonely) aluminum tree highlighted the lobby of the Bonneville Tower in December 1968 (Images 1-2).

Bonneville Tower lobby in Dec 1968, taken by Salt Lake Tribune staff, image from UDSH.
(Colorization done by me with photoshop, I'm still learning)
Bonneville Tower lobby in Dec 1968, taken by Salt Lake Tribune staff, image from UDSH. 

1968 was a tough year for Bonneville Tower (Image 3) located at 777 E South Temple. The 15-story, 116-unit, building was completed in 1965 and was the first high-rise on South Temple. At the time, it was the highest mortgage in Utah backed by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), a cost of $4.1 million (~$37M today).

Bonneville Tower in December 1968, taken by Salt Lake Tribune staff, image from UDSH

The Bonneville was built as a luxury apartment building to serve the new petroleum and space industries in Utah, which soon fizzled. The building featured an impressive entryway with a circular drive and a fountain with five water changes and lighting effects. The lobby featured wool carpets custom loomed in England, black and gold Italian marble walls, and an imported crystal chandelier.

High-speed elevators, electric security doors, community pool, garbage shutes, on-site laundry facilities, parking garage, all-electrical kitchens, individual heating/cooling controls for each apartment, bathrooms with marble walls, and garden terraces all added to the luxury living.

However, the demand for luxury housing was overestimated and in Dec 1966 only 32 apartments were rented, so the FHA foreclosed on the property.

A few months later in 1967, furniture from the model apartment units was repossessed by Town & Country Home Furnishings and resold (Image 4). These luxury furnishings included some mid-century modern pieces such as an apricot velvet lounge chair, medallion drum table, white selig chairs, lipstick selig sofa, red velvet love seat, green globe lounge chair, round pedestal table and 4 chairs, and electric crystal candelabra.

Furniture repossession advertisement,
from Salt Lake Tribune 1967-02-11
In 1968, when the above Christmas photo was taken, Bonneville Tower was operating at a loss with only half of the units occupied; monthly rents ranged from $160-$285 ($1,300-$2,300 today).

In Sept 1971 the FHA sold the Bonneville at auction. In 1974 the building was converted to condominiums.

Today, the lobby still has many of the same original features (Image 5).

Bonneville Tower lobby today, from their website

Images 6-7 are local advertisements for aluminum trees in 1959 and 1961, just for fun.

Aluminum tree advertisement, from Ogden Standard Examiner 1959-12-03

Aluminum tree advertisement, from Ogden Standard Examiner 1961-11-08

Deseret News 1964-06-26L; Lehi Free Press 1964-07-02; Salt Lake Tribune 1966-12-21; Salt Lake Tribune 1968-12-29; Utah Division of State History (UDSH) site file.

Additional Update:

  • DEVELOPER: W K Murphy and C. E. LaBree (President) of Artcol Corporation of Southern California;
  • ARCHITECTS: M.E. Harris Jr. of SLC and Harold A Carlson of Los Angeles;
  • BUILDER: Alfred T. Brown of SLC. Groundbreaking in June 1964. Completed 1965;
  • SISTER BUILDING: Sunset Tower (now Hightower Apts) on 40 S 900 East, the first of three to be built. The third was the Plaza Tower which was to be located on the northeast corner of South Temple and A Street but was never built.

21 December 2021

Native Place Atlas- some Native names of Salt Lake County

The Native Place Atlas is a project from the American West Center at the University of Utah.
Overview of the Native Place Atlas
From their website:

Place names in the United States are officially kept by the US Board on Geographic Names, which was first created in 1890 to address conflicting names and spellings that faced mapmakers in the American West.

The place names that appeared on the first maps of the West derived from Euro-American explorers, surveyors, and settlers. Native presence became “under-mapped” as the cartographic tools of settler-colonialism reconstructed the imagined landscape through place naming.

Out of respect for tribal knowledge and to safeguard against non-Native trespass, the map will not name or show the location of sacred sites.

Unlike drawings of territorial tribal boundaries, which are static and limiting due to the changing nature of these lines throughout history, Native Places allows viewers to see the spread of Native homelands through their linguistic presence.

The data currently contains nearly 600 place names.


Map showing Native Placenames for Salt Lake County vv
Excerpt of Salt Lake County Native Placenames

19 December 2021

The controversy over Brigham Young on the silver service of the USS Utah

Another local Salt Lake City controversy regarding the USS Utah was the traditional gift of a silver service.
USS Utah silver service.
Image from Naval History and Heritage Command

After the USS Utah was launched in 1909 (previous post), the ship underwent 2 years of sea trials before receiving its commission on August 31, 1911. During this 2 year period, Utah Governor William Spry began his campaign to fund the traditional gifting of a silver service for use by officers of the ship.

Probably taking a cue from the earlier commissioning of the USS Utah’s sister ship, the USS Florida, Spry initiated a campaign to seek donations from Utah’s school children to pay for the silver service rather than having the Utah Legislature appropriate the money. His rationale was that Utah was home to families with many children and if each one of the 104,000 school children in Utah donated 10 cents (~$3 today) it would raise a budget of $10,000 (~$293K today). 

The $10,000 budget was equivalent to the USS Florida, and rather modest compared to other state's silver service budgets. When the fundraising was over, a total of 26,477 children were listed as contributing $2,277.42, far short of the $10,000 goal and in the end, the Utah Legislature appropriated the remaining funds.

Traditionally, the design and size of the silver service were decided by the namesake state, and the design incorporated the symbols, history, flora, and fauna of the state.

The controversy was the design of a single tray from the silver service which depicted the street view of the Brigham Young Monument with the LDS Temple. 

Detail of the coffee tray with Brigham Young Monument
Image from Naval History and Heritage Command

Again, just like with the launching ceremony of the USS Utah, this decision was seen by the non-Mormon population of SLC that the state and federal governments were officially endorsing the Mormon religion and idolizing the leader who encouraged polygamy- a practice that was controversial and believed to still be practiced in secret.

Once all the designs were made public it was Mrs. Erna Owen (nee von Rodenstein) who furiously objected. Erna was a relative newcomer having only lived in SLC for 2 years. She and her husband were from Connecticut where Erna was a society woman and her husband, Herbert, was a top mogul in the bicycle world. He was the first to ride down the steps of the US Capitol on a bicycle and was the inventor of the safety bicycle and the woman’s drop-frame bicycle, which he said would enable women’s independence.

Erna was seen by most residents of Salt Lake City as an outsider just making trouble and no one paid her much attention; even the Salt Lake Tribune mostly ignored her protests until she began mobilizing prominent non-Mormons in SLC (members of the American political party) and talking with her contacts on the east coast, which started a mild national interest in the controversy.

In the end, the Navy decided to accept the full silver service in 1911, including the tray with Brigham Young. Previous precedent of accepting controversial images was set in 1909 when the Navy accepted a silver plate with Confederate President Jefferson Davis on it for the USS Mississippi.

The Navy also accepted a silver tray from Erna that had a woman with the American flag. She hoped it would replace the Brigham Young tray, but it eventually ended up framed on the bulkhead of the captain's cabin.

When the USS Utah became a target ship in 1930, Utah Governor George Dern requested the silver service be returned. The Navy refused so Utah Senator William King introduced a bill in Congress to mandate its return to Utah; the bill was passed and signed by President Herbert Hoover. 

The silver service is now in procession of the Utah Division of State History; however, some items have been lost or stolen and the service is no longer complete.

Source: Silver Service for the Battleship Utah; A Naval Tradition under Governor Spry by Michael S Eldredge. Utah Historical Quarterly. 1978. Vol. 46, No. 3.

OF NOTE: After Erna Owens left Utah and went back to Connecticut, she became a well-known activist for women’s rights. She was part of the votes for women movement, and she spearheaded the Women’s Radio Corps during WWI which supplied the military with women radio operators.  Her daughter, Elsie, was also part of the Women’s Radio Corps and became a pilot for the military during WWII

Large waiter tray displaying pioneers and covered wagons contrasted with the modern transportation of a train on the Lucin Cutoff

Large Centerpiece (top) displaying the workings of the Utah Copper Company at Bigham and the Copperton Mills; sego lilies frame mining scene and the handles are eagle heads

Cloche with H.L.A. Culmer’s “Caroline Bridge” now also known as Kachina Bridge

Cloche with the Devil’s Slide rock formation

Waiter tray displaying Cyrus E Dallin’s “Signal of Peace”

Platter displaying a train and mountain scene

Large Punch Bowl displaying Black Rock and the Great Salt Lake on one side and Battleship Utah on the other, the handles of the bowl are seagull heads

Cigar box made of solid Utah Copper displaying Salt Lake High School’s 300 naval cadets on the silver plate attached on top

Utah Governor William Spry at the silver service presentation ceremony onboard the USS Utah, 1911.
Image from Utah Division of History


Here is an incomplete list of the engraved pieces of the USS Utah's Silver Service that I was able to find through historic photographs and newspaper descriptions. Of note, all the silver was mined in Utah.
  • Coffee tray displaying the Brigham Young Monument in front of LDS Temple
  • Unknown item displaying Lake Blanche and the Wasatch Mountains
  • Unknown item displaying Mahonri Mackintosh Young’s “the Prospector”
  • Large waiter tray displaying pioneers and covered wagons contrasted with the modern transportation of a train on the Lucin Cutoff
  • Waiter tray displaying Cyrus E Dallin’s “Signal of Peace”
  • Cigar box made of solid Utah Copper displaying Salt Lake High School’s 300 naval cadets on the silver plate attached on top
  • Large Punch Bowl displaying Black Rock and the Great Salt Lake on one side and Battleship Utah on the other, the handles of the bowl are seagull heads
  • Large Centerpiece displaying the workings of the Utah Copper Company at Bigham and the Copperton Mills; sego lilies frame mining scene and the handles are eagle heads
  • Well and Tree Steak platter with scallops and fish motif.
  • Fish platter with “Utah” engraved
  • Platter displaying a train and mountain scene
  • Cloche with the Devil’s Slide rock formation
  • Cloche with H.L.A. Culmer’s “Caroline Bridge” now also known as Kachina Bridge
  • Unknown item with H.L.A. Culmer’s “Augusta Bridge” now also known as Sipapu Bridge
  • Bowl displaying the Wasatch Mountains, taken from a Shipler photograph
  • Square tray displaying Eagles Gate
  • Candelabras displaying a (written?) tribute to the Utah men who died in the Spanish-American War
  • Other items adorned with sea creatures, the Seal of Utah, and the Seal of the US Navy

The large punch bowl was accompanied by 27 punch cups representing Utah’s 27 counties. The designs for the counties I could find descriptions are listed here:
  • Salt Lake County displaying the Salt Lake City and County Building
  • Millard County displaying the Utah Territorial Statehouse
  • Juab County displaying a mining scene
  • Summit County displaying a mining scene
  • Washington County displaying grapes, fig, and pomegranate
  • Cache County displaying a bundle of wheat
  • Box Elder County displaying the Bear River irrigation system
  • Wasatch County displaying the old probate seal bearing in the center a deer head
  • Morgan County displaying a potato
  • Garfield County displaying a merino ram
  • Uinta County displaying a brontosaurus
  • Kane County displaying steers
  • Wayne County displaying an oil scene
  • San Juan County displaying a natural bridge

12 December 2021

The Launch of the USS Utah and the Controversies Back in Utah

The battleship USS Utah was the subject of a few controversies that I think only residents of Salt Lake City can really appreciate.

 Launch of the USS Utah on Dec 23 1909

When the USS Utah was launched on December 23, 1909, several dignitaries from Utah attended the ceremony including Utah Governor William Spry and Utah Senator Reed Smoot. Both Spry and Smoot were prominent Mormons in politics. Smoot was also a Mormon Apostle (and a suspected polygamist which was the subject of the Reed Smoot Congressional hearings of 1904 to determine if he was even eligible to be a senator).

The day after the launch the Washington Post published a story about remarks made at the launch ceremony by Senator Reed Smoot; the Salt Lake Tribune ran this same story a few days later.

The Tribune (as did the Washington Post) reported that Smoot said: “Isn't it a happy coincidence that this auspicious launching of a great battleship called Utah should be made on the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith who first led the Mormons toward the state of that name.”

The launching of the USS Utah on Joseph Smith’s birthday was a coincidence (the US Navy even issued a statement to this effect) but many people in SLC took it as an official endorsement of Mormonism by the federal government.

The Desert News immediately rebutted stating “the anti-Mormon organ prints with the satisfaction of a practical joker,” referring to the Tribune. And further stated that Senator Smoot’s speech did not mention Joseph Smith… but perhaps Senator Smoot may have said it to some friends but that was no reason for such an uproar.

Back in Utah, religious leaders of SLC’s non-Mormon population were particularly perturbed indicating it was likely to stir up tensions in the local communities, which it did. The readers of the Tribune were outraged at the behavior of their elected officials and the US Navy while the readers of the News were outraged that any Utahn would take any offense.

After a couple weeks of the back and forth the controversy faded in importance and was taken up by other rivalries.
SL Tribune compares the size of the USS Utah to the Boston and Newhouse Buildings, SL Trib Dec 23 1909

07 December 2021

USS Utah: The Forgotten Ship of Pearl Harbor

Today, Dec 7 2021, is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

One of the losses of the attack on Pearl Harbor was the battleship USS Utah, now often referred to as “The Forgotten Ship of Pearl Harbor.”  

The USS Utah at Pearl Harbor as it appears today. From ussutah1941.org

The USS Utah was launched on Dec 23 1909 with Utah Governor William Spry’s daughter, Mary Alice Spry breaking a bottle of champaign on the ship’s bow. At the time of its launch it was the largest vessel in the US Navy. In 1932 the Utah was converted for use as a target and training ship.

USS Utah in 1913. From US Navy History and Heritage Command

On Dec 7, 1941, the Utah was moored off Ford Island in the center of Pearl Harbor. The attack on the fleet at Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 am and lasted about 2 hours, but for Utah it was over in a few minutes.

At 8:01 am the ship was hit by the first of two torpedoes and immediately started to list to port (left side of the ship). At 08:12 am, the mooring lines snapped causing the Utah to completely capsize.

The crew abandoned the ship. Most sailors were stationed below deck and they quickly headed topside. There are many heroic stories of sailors helping with the evacuation such as Chief Peter Tomich who remained at his post in the engineering section until he saw that all boilers were secure and all men were evacuated, even at the cost of his own life. Tomich posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Fireman 2nd Class John B. Vaessen also remained at his post in the electrical room making sure that the ship had enough power to keep the lights to aid in the evacuation process. After the ship capsized, Veassan was trapped for 2 days in the overturned hull of the ship. For those 2 days he tapped on the hull hoping for rescue. Machinist S.A. Szymanski and other men from the neighboring USS Raleigh were able to cut through the hull of the Utah and rescue Vaessen. The Navy Cross was awarded to Vaessen for his actions. He died in 2018.

 Rescue and recovery efforts at USS Utah, Dec 1941. From ussutah1941.org

Altogether, 30 officers and 431 enlisted men of the USS Utah survived the attack and 6 officers and 52 enlisted men died. Only the remains of 4 men were recovered and interred ashore leaving 54 sailors still entombed within the Utah.

As the ship had little military value no effort was made to refloat it. A small monument is present at the site of the USS Utah on the opposite side of Ford Island from the USS Arizona. Of the several battleships sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor, only the USS Arizona and the USS Utah remain.

USS Utah Memorial in 1950, From US Navy History and Heritage Command


06 December 2021

Update on the Ghost Sign at 1480 S State

The old Pappy's Pawn at 1480 S State as it is today, Dec 6 2021.

An update on the old ghost sign uncovered at the now-closed Pappy’s Pawn at 1480 SState, Salt Lake City.:

As of this morning (6 Dec 2021), the stucco has been repaired and painted red, meaning that the recently uncovered sign is now hidden again behind the stucco (see the previous post).

The old Pappy's Pawn at 1480 S State as it is today, Dec 6 2021.
Note the lack of seagull statues on top of the pawn sign.

Also note that the existing sign no longer has the seagulls, which we learned from @handysixdeuce that the seagulls were originally part of a massive art installation at the now-demolished Prudential Federal Savings building previously located at 115 S Main Street SLC and is now the site of the Eccles Theater. 

I'm not sure if Pappy took the seagulls with him or if the new owners have them. I just hope they didn't end up in the trash.

Here are some interesting articles about the art and architecture of the Prudential Building, the 2014 demolition of the building, and the promise of SLC to reincorporate the seagulls into the Eccles Theater - which has not happened.

Of note, the Prudential Building was designed by architect William Pereira who is best known for designing San Francisco's iconic Transamerica Pyramid.

The seagull piece was named "The Gulls of Salt Lake City" and was created by California artist Tom Van Sant with the aid of master welder Timothy E. Smith. It consisted of 100 gulls attached to three stainless steel rods, 120 feet long, held in tension between the roof and a sunken garden below street level. A cricket was placed at the top of the sculpture.
Prudential building and seagull sculpture in the 1960s.
From Utah Division of State History site file.

Prudential building and seagull sculpture in the 1960s.
From Utah Division of State History site file.

05 December 2021

Ghost Sign on State Street, Dec 2021

The other day I saw this historic painted sign being uncovered by workers at 1480 S State Street Salt Lake City, which is the recently closed Pappy’s Pawn shop. Pappy was of Greek heritage and a longtime resident of State Street. 

Detail of newly revealed painted sign, Dec 2021.

The workers said they were repairing the stucco when they found this older sign under it. The workers thought the older sign was incredibly cool and were carefully working to keep it intact.

Unfortunately, it will not be visible for long as the plans of the new owner are to cover it back up.

I did a little history digging and found that the building was constructed in 1938.

Below is an incomplete list of businesses that have occupied the space:
  • Crystal Laundry (1930s-1940s)
  • Good Laundry and Dry Cleaning (1940s-1960s)
  • European Auto Parts Inc (1960s-1970s)
  • Jensen Distributing Co (1970s)
  • Betty’s Collectables (1975-1976)
  • Earl Shiel (1980s)
  • Pappy’s Pawn (1990s-2020s)
The only letters clearly uncovered are “ING” so I’m not sure what the full word could be but my best guess is Good Laundry and Dry Cleaning which was operated by a Japanese-American family.

View of Pappys Pawn as it appeared in 2019, from Google Street View.