29 January 2022

How To with The HUB - Historic Utah Building database

Use “THE HUB” database to research historic buildings. Available from the Utah Division of State History.

The Historic Utah Building (HUB) portal will take you the scanned files of historic buildings in Utah (if the building has been researched, and if the file has been scanned – it is a work in progress).

Easy Steps to use the HUB

1. Go to The HUB Viewer HERE.

2. Zoom to the area of interest

3. Click on a dot for a popup screen with additional info

4. The popup shows some basic info about the building, make sure to scroll down for a link to the file

5. Clicking the link will bring you to a scanned file (if it exists)

6. Open the file for all sorts of great info

26 January 2022

Brigham Young's Sauna

Brigham Young had a personal “steam bath” in the Lion House at 63 E South Temple, Salt Lake City.

Brigham's Steam Bath. Page 106, DUP Our Pioneer Heritage by Kate B Carter, Volume 2, 1959

Reading through the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP) history volumes is much like visiting their museum – odd tidbits are hidden within, like this one!

Similar to a personal sauna (except no hot rocks are used), Brigham’s steam bath is a wood closet made of local pine. It measures 3 ft square and 7 ft tall. On the door is a vertical hatch made of wood that could slide open and closed for ventilation, and to let the occupant unlock the latch on the outside of the door to exit.

Boiling water was poured into a 6-inch-deep metal tray that was situated below the wood-slatted floor; the stream would then flow up from the boiling water and fill the closet for the steam bath. Later a circle was cut into the ceiling and a steam compressor was added to help boost the temperature and steam.

Tubs and sauna at the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Musem SLC, from TripAdvisor
 Description of the Steam Bath
The steam bath was located on the ground floor of the 3-story Lion House which was built in 1856 for some of Brigham’s wives. (Mostly the wives with a small number of children as the wives with larger families were generally provided their own house.)

The ground floor of the Lion House was where most daily household activities occurred. In addition to the bathroom in the NE corner, there was a schoolroom, a laundry room, weaving room, kitchen, dining room, and storage rooms.

The top floor of the Lion House held bedrooms, each wife getting a room with a dormer window (20 gables for 20 bedrooms). The main floor also housed bedrooms as well as a formal parlor.

Lion House 1907, top is a postcard based on the below photograph.

Lion House basement floor plan, ca. 1868
Brigham often used the steam bath to treat his rheumatoid arthritis. He also liked the hot sulphur baths at Warm Springs, even having his own private entrance and room. That edition of Warm Springs has long since been demolished; the 1921 version, called Wasatch Springs Plunge, is the most recent and is located at 840 N 300 West (owned and boarded up by SLC gov).

The Lion House was converted into a reception center and restaurant in the 1960s and remains so today.

Brigham’s steam bath is now housed at the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum at 300 N Main St.

- Lessons (Daughters of the Utah Pioneers) Nov 1968
- DUP Our Pioneer Heritage by Kate B Carter, Volume 2, 1959
- Brigham Young at Home by Clarissa Young Spencer, 1940

22 January 2022

Book Review: The Gathering Place: An Illustrated History of Salt Lake City

The Gathering Place: An Illustrated History of Salt Lake City By John S McCormick

Review: Highly Recommended

Audience: Great for newcomers to SLC. Great for anyone, really.

Availability: Out of print. The SLC Public Library has 3 circulating copies. Used copies are available online for purchase.

This is a good unbiased overview of the history of Salt Lake City. What is great about this book is that it does not shy away from the cringy aspects of the past including impacts that Mormon settlers had on indigenous populations, slavery in the Utah Territory, and prejudices experienced by many minority populations. It treats the Mormon vs Non-Mormon aspects of SLC in a matter-of-fact manner with a powerful example of local religious influence involving the MX missile project of the 1980s. The book was published in 2000 and includes a good overview of then-current happenings but now recent history such as East High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance controversy, the purchase of a segment of Main Street by the LDS Church, and the Virgin Mary Tree on 700 South.

21 January 2022

Utah was one of the last states to fully allow Native American citizens to vote

Soon after Utah became a state, Utah passed a law in 1897 that prohibited Native Americans living on a reservation from voting with the justification that they were not residents of the state of Utah. That law continued to be enforced until the Ute Tribe challenged it in court in 1956.

Preston Allen (1913-1989) was a 41-year-old Ute rancher chosen to be the voting rights test case. As a youth, he attended the Riverside Indian Boarding School and served 4 years in the US Army during WWII, rising to the rank of SGT. In 1956 he lived in Altonah on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and was the Vice President of the Affiliate Ute Citizens group.

Preston V. Allen, ca. 1980s

Preston V. Allen during WWII.
Preston asked for an absentee ballot from the Duchesne County Clerk, Porter Merrell, to vote in the 1956 election. Following the Utah Attorney General’s directive, his request was denied as he was living on a reservation.

In 1956, Allen v Merrell was heard by the Utah Supreme Court who decided that the 1897 law did not deny the right to vote on the basis of race (a clear violation of the equal protection clause).

Rather, the court decided that reservations (both miliary and Native American) were under the control of the federal government, so state and county elections were not applicable there and that Native Americans had a very limited interest or understanding of government and they should not be involved with state politics.

Most telling, however, was the court also expressed fear that Native Americans might outnumber the White voters.

The case was appealed to the US Supreme Court but before it was heard the Utah Legislature amended the 1897 law, making Utah the second to last state to allow on-reservation Native Americans the right to vote (North Dakota did so in 1958).


Unfortunately, this was not the end of voting restrictions on Utah’s Indigenous people. The Ute continued to have problems in Duchesne County. The Navajo in San Juan County also have difficulty as demonstrated by a 2018 lawsuit settlement with requires San Juan County to implement corrective action for past actions that marginalized the rights of Navajo voters.


17 January 2022

Rancho Bowling Anti-Segregation Protest in 1962

The old Rancho Bowling Lanes were subject to anti-segregation protests in 1962. Rancho was located at 641 W North Temple (now Citifront Apts) and was famous for its 42 bowling lanes and Olympic size swimming pool.

Rancho Lanes, like many other entertainment facilities, did not allow Black people to enter their establishment during regular hours. Rancho only allowed Black people to bowl after 1:00 am, well after the SLC curfew, and presumably after the White families had gone home.

As such, in the early 1960s some of Salt Lake City's Black residents took inspiration from Martin Luther King’s work in the South and organized peaceful demonstrations in SLC to fight segregation practices.

In Joan Nabor’s oral history interview, she said “In Utah…it’s the institutional racism that you have to deal with, it’s implied and nobody’s going to come out in the open and tell you…The fact that Blacks cannot bowl here, those kinds of things you can fight. But you can’t fight when everything is just kinda implied but not said outwardly.”

So, Joan’s husband (and first Black professor at the University of Utah), Chuck Nabors organized some members of the Salt Lake City NAACP to peacefully picket against Rancho Bowling.

The picketing of Rancho Lanes was the first public anti-segregation demonstration in SLC during the 1960s. Both Black and White people participated, including kids, women, and men. Chuck Nabors was very careful to train the demonstrators to remain on the sidewalk (public property), to be peaceful, and to be extremely polite. He did not want this first demonstration to leave Salt Lakers with a poor view of the Civil Rights Movement. In his oral history interview, Chuck Nabors called the demonstration “squeaky clean non-violence.”

In 1963 Rancho Lanes dropped its segregation policy.


Oral History Interviews at Marriott Library: Joan Nabors, Chuck Nabors, Victor Gordon, William Price, Bernie Benns, Eva Sexton, James Green

OF NOTE: Also in 1963, this core group of protesters lobbied the Utah Legislature for a Public Accommodations Law that would ensure integration of various establishments. Most Utah Legislatures ignored this idea and went about their normal business.

However, the 1963 Utah Legislature decided to repeal the Utah miscegenation law (racial intermarriage). Outside of the South, Utah was the second to last state to overturn such legislation. 

12 January 2022

A Glimpse of Prince Utah, the Elephant

I came across this photo of Prince Utah while going through the large number of Hogle Zoo images in the Utah Division of State History’s digital collections,

This photo is of the now-demolished Lion House as it appeared in 1945, around the time it was opened. Way in the back is the taxidermy form of Prince Utah. This is the only photo I have seen of Prince Utah after he died in 1919.

Prince Utah was the only offspring of Princess Alice that lived for any significant amount of time. The two elephants were the star of the zoo when it was located in Liberty Park

Click for my posts about Princess Alice and Prince Utah.

The old Lion House (now demolished) as it appeared in 1945.
From UDSH. (Direct Link)

The taxidermy form of Prince Utah is highlighted in the red oval.
Same image as above. 

Shasta the Liger

Postcard of Shasta the Liger at Hogle Zoo, 1950s.

Shasta was the first liger born in the US and holds the world record for being the longest-lived liger ever known. She was born at Hogle Zoo on May 6 1948 to an African Lion father (named Huey) and a Bengal Tiger mother (named Daisy). If Shasta had been born to a lion mother and a tiger father, she would have been a Tigon, one of which was at the NYC Central Park Zoo at the time of Shasta’s birth.

At the time of Shasta’s birth, zoos operated akin to a circus in that animals were used to attract visitors and they paid little attention to conservation or animal ethics.

Thus, Hogle Zoo officials encouraged the mating of a lion and a tiger to produce a hybrid, one not normally found in nature. Shasta’s parents were introduced to each other by first placing their cages next to each other and then by allowing them to be in the same cage for the duration of the mating season and were relieved when one did not kill the other. Zoo employee Joe M Naylor, who was likely responsible for the mating, later boasted that only he knew the secret “love potion” to making hybrids.

When Shasta was born in 1948, she was ignored by her mother so Superintendent of City Parks and top boss of Hogle Zoo, Joseph Sloan, took Shasta home for his wife Bertha to care for. As the Superintendent, the Sloans were provided city housing- the historic Isaac Chase house which now serves as the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts within Liberty Park.

Bertha took on primary care of Shasta for the first few months of her life. Shasta was doted upon by Bertha and a running joke of zoo employees was that she was named after her temperament in that “she hasta have this, and she hasta have that.” In reality, Shasta was named by a contest held by the Salt Lake Telegram.

Shasta was bottle-fed with a custom mix of milk formula, lime water, vitamins, egg, and cod liver oil and was burped like a baby when she needed it. She played in the house and after a couple of months, she was allowed to play outside on the lawn of Liberty Park (Image 2-3). Shasta’s favorite toy was an old leather purse of Berthas which Shasta pounced, chewed, and wrestled with. As she grew Shasta was moved to the upper porch of the Chase house where she could roam a little more freely.

Baby Shasta on the lawn of Liberty Park, June 10 1948, “Liger Shasta - 17” From UDSH

Baby Shasta on the lawn of Liberty Park, August 1 1948, “Shasta the Liger - 5” From UDSH

Shasta’s first few months were also her most famous with photographs of her published in newspapers around the world. Life Magazine even did a 4-page spread on Shasta in Sept 1948 (Image 4).

The first page of the 4-page Life Magazine article on Shasta, Sept 20 1948.

Shasta moved back to Hogle Zoo when she was about 3 months old and for the duration of her 24-year life, she was the most popular animal at the zoo. She had birthday celebrations every year in which thousands of people would visit her (Images 5-6).

Shasta birthday party, May 9 1964 “Shasta Birthday Party at Zoo -Shot 10” From UDSH

Shasta birthday party, May 9 1964 “Shasta Birthday Party at Zoo -Shot 10” From UDSH

Most of Shasta’s life was spent in the now-demolished Old Lion House building where the small animal exhibit is currently located. This facility was little more than metal cages within a concrete building with dividers separating Shasta from the other big cat species (Images7-8).

Sasta in her enclosure in the now-demolished old Lion House, March 1949 “Shasta the Liger - 19” From UDSH
Shasta in her enclosure in the now-demolished old Lion House, May 4 1949 “Shasta the Liger - 23” From UDSH

In 1970 the new Feline Building was completed (now remodeled into the Cat Wok Café) and Shasta and the other big cats were moved into the larger facilities. Shasta had never seen a lion or a tiger in her entire life and she cowered in the corner of her new enclosure for several days.

Shasta died in 1972 at the age of 24 years. Since Shasta was so loved and a major attraction, zoo officials decided to have her stuffed and return to the zoo for exhibit. In 1997 Shasta was moved to the Monte L Bean Life Science Museum at BYU because hybrids in zoo setting had become controversial.

You can still visit Shasta at BYU (Image 8).

Shasta at the Monte L Bean Museum, 2022

Salt Lake Telegram 1948-05-06
Salt Lake Telegram 1948-07-28
Life Magazine 1948-09-20
Deseret News 1970-03-18
Deseret News 1970-05-07
Deseret News 1972-07-19
Davis County Clipper 1972-08-04
Salt Lake Tribune 1977-12-25
Salt Lake Tribune 2016-06-20

08 January 2022

The Wood Mosaic of the Utah State Table

Some additional details about John R. Wilson's custom-made Utah State Table (1896) from yesterday’s post.

The table measured 3 feet square, 2 feet 6 inches tall. The circular mosaic of wood from 44 states formed a ring around the 8-inch diameter centerpiece made of Utah hardwood. The 4 corner pieces were made of wood from the 4 remaining territories: Arizona, Alaska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The connecting edges between the corners were also made of Utah hardwood.

The 4 legs of the table were to be made of wood from the chief cities representing the cardinal points of the compass: St Paul the north; Galveston the south, New York the east, and San Francisco to the west.

Under the centerpiece is a box 6.5 inches x 8 inches containing a copy of the constitution and other historical documents

Author's illustration of the Utah State Table top based on descriptions from historic newspapers. 

Illustration in the Deseret Weekly May 4 1895 based on the description from its maker, John R. Wilson

Below is a list of the wood specimens submitted by each state, as much as I could find out from the old newspapers. I will attempt to research further to fill in the blanks 

  1. Alabama:
  2. Arkansas: Burr Oak
  3. California (2 items): Laurel and Olive. One of these was from a tree planted by Spanish Monk
  4. Colorado:
  5. Connecticut: A large piece of the historic Charter Oak, a white oak tree in which Connecticut’s Royal Charter was hidden in 1687. The tree became a symbol of independence and is commemorated on the Connecticut state quarter.
  6. Delaware: American Holly
  7. Florida:
  8. Georgia:
  9. Idaho: Mountain Mahogany
  10. Illinois: native oak
  11. Indiana: Black Walnut
  12. Iowa: Black Walnut of native Iowa growth, taken from the top of an old table that was used in the first capitol building in Des Moines
  13. Kansas: Walnut railing from the first courthouse in Shawnee County, Kansas
  14. Kentucky: Kentucky Walnut, part of a tree cut on Benson Hill in 1846 and used in the construction of a bridge that spanned the Kentucky river; this old wooden bridge was torn down in 1893 and iron one was substituted.
  15. Louisiana:
  16. Maine:
  17. Maryland: A piece of the famous “Old Mulberry” tree (Black Mulberry) where the colonists signed a treaty of friendship with the Yaocomico people in 1631.
  18. Massachusetts:
  19. Michigan:
  20. Minnesota: native hardwood oak
  21. Mississippi: White Oak
  22. Missouri (two items): Sweet Gum and Oak
  23. Montana: Cedar
  24. Nebraska:
  25. Nevada:
  26. New Hampshire: Curly Maple
  27. New Jersey (2 items): oak and Eastern Red Cedar
  28. New York: (2 items) Yellow Birch from the Adirondack forests. A specimen from the Hill Cumorah, important to the LDS religion as the place where Joseph Smith found the Golden Plates.
  29. North Carolina: native Yellow Pine
  30. North Dakota: Ash
  31. Ohio: Curly Poplar
  32. Oregon: A good piece of oak, it was sawed out of a mudsill of the first flour mill built in Oregon and lay underwater for about 55 years.
  33. Pennsylvania: Red Oak
  34. Rhode Island: Chestnut
  35. South Carolina: Black Walnut
  36. South Dakota:
  37. Tennessee: Oak
  38. Texas:
  39. Vermont:
  40. Virginia: native oak
  41. Washington: live oak
  42. West Virginia:
  43. Wisconsin:
  44. Wyoming:
  45. Utah: (several pieces): Wood from a wagon that crossed the plains to Utah in 1847. Wood from a table of Brigham Young. Wood from the first walnut tree grown in Utah and was carved by students of the Deaf-Mute Institute.


  1. Alaska: Spruce, probably Sitka Spruce
  2. Arizona: Desert Ironwood. Cut and polished by inmates of the Territorial Prison in Yuma
  3. Oklahoma:
  4. New Mexico:

4 special pieces for the 4 corners:
  1. Wood from the floor joists of William Penn’s house in Pennsylvania
  2. Wood from the stock of an anchor from the USS Constitution, the oldest ship in the US Navy
  3. Wood from the framework that supported the Liberty Bell
  4. Wood from the keel of the HMS Augusta, which was defeated in the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War in 1777

Charter Oak, 1857, oil on canvas. By Charles De Wolf Brownell.
From Connecticut Historical Society.

Wood specimen identified as being from the original Old Mulberry Tree, Maryland. From the collections of the Historic St Mary City Museum.

The Hill Cumorah in New York, from churchofjesuschrist.org

The Interior of  Pennsbury Manor in Pennsylvania was the home of founder William Penn. The manor was abandoned for years and was reconstructed in the 1930s. From pennlive.com

Destruction of HMS AUGUSTA in the Delaware River, 23 October 1777. From US Navy

The USS Constitution sets sail in 2014 from Boston Harbor. From US Navy.

The World's Fair in Water Colors: Old Liberty Bell. 1893. Charles S Graham. 

Primary sources:
New York Times 1896-03-30; Deseret Weekly 1895-05-04; Salt Lake Herald 1895-12-26

07 January 2022

The First Utah Law Signed on a Special Table - The Utah Table

Today, Jan 7 1896, the Utah State Legislature first met in a special session and passed Utah’s first law on a special mosaic table made for the occasion.

Salt Lake City and County officials invited the new Utah Governor and Legislature to use the recently completed City and County Building (Image 1-2) for the state’s business. The building continued to serve as the seat of Utah’s government for several years, until the new Utah State Capitol building was completed in 1916.
Salt Lake City and County Building in 1896.
From UDSH. Colorization by author.
Interior of Salt Lake City and County Building in 1896. The abundance of American flags suggests this is one of the rooms used by the first State Legislature following Utah's statehood in Jan 1896. From UDSH. Colorization by author.

Utah achieved statehood on Jan 4 1896, and the first Utah Legislature (Image 3) met in special session and passed their first bill on Jan 7 1896. (The first bill was for the convening of the state legislature in regular session).

First Utah State Legislature, held at the Salt Lake City and County Building, 1896. Top image is the House, bottom image is the Senate.  The women in the photos are likely staffers. Image from UDSH.

Utah Governor Heber Wells signed the first bill into law that same day, Jan 7, on a specially crafted table (Image 4-5) made specifically for this occasion by SLC resident and carpenter, John R. Wilson. Governor Wells dramatized the occasion and made special mention of both the table and the pen he used to sign Utah’s first law.
Author's illustration of what the Utah State Table may have looked like. 
Illustration in the Deseret Weekly May 4 1895 based on the description from its maker, John R. Wilson.

Wilson’s table became known as the Utah State Table. It was crafted from special pieces of wood donated by each of the other 44 states and the 4 territories. These historically significant pieces of wood were wedged around a Utah native hardwood circle. The table measured 3 ft square and 2 ft 6in high.

Some notable examples of wood contributions include:
  • California tree planted by the Spanish monks in 1800
  • Wood from the Charter Oak Tree where the Colony of Connecticut hid its charter from King Charles II in 1687 (Image 6)
  • Black Mulberry where a treaty with Native Americans was made in 1631 in Maryland
  • Floor joists of William Penn’s house in Pennsylvania
  • Stock of an anchor stock of the USS Constitution, the oldest ship in the US Navy
  • Wood from the framework that supported the Liberty Bell
  • Keel of the HMS Augusta which was defeated in the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War in 1777
  • Wood from a tree from the Hill Cumorah in New York (important to the LDS religion- where the Golden Plates were found by Joseph Smith)
  • Wood from Brigham Young’s table and a wagon that crossed the plains to Utah
  • Charter Oak, 1857, oil on canvas. By Charles De Wolf Brownell.
    From Connecticut Historical Society. 
Wilson did not donate this table to the State of Utah. He sought payment for it from the first legislature of 1896 in the amount of $2,500 (~$83K today), which the legislature declined to authorize. He then sought to sell it to the highest bidder by sending a descriptive pamphlet throughout the US; in response, the 1899 Utah Legislature authorized $250 (~$8.4K today) payment to Wilson for the table.

The table was used in the Governor’s offices for several years; in 1913 a secretary for Governor Spry remembers it being used in his conference room in the City and County building.

In 1945, Wilson’s daughter, Matilda Bingham, sought to locate the table because she believed important papers were hidden in a secret compartment of the table and were to be opened in 1946, 50 years after the table was first made. Newspapers from 1896 describe a hidden compartment in which a copy of the Utah Constitution and other “historical documents” were to be enclosed.

At the direction of the Governor, searches were made to locate the table in 1945-1946. Both the City and County and the State Capitol buildings were searched but the Utah State Table was never relocated and is likely now lost to history.

Deseret Weekly 1895-05-04; New York Times 1896-03-30; Salt Lake Herald 1895-12-26; Salt Lake Tribune 1896-01-08; Salt Lake Herald 1896-01-08; Times Democrat 1896-04-08; Salt Lake Tribune 1896-04-10; Salt Lake Herald 1897-02-10; Salt Lake Herald 1899-03-30; Post Register 1945-03-05; Salt Lake Telegram 1946-03-02; Deseret News 1946-03-04; Utah History to Go – Utah’s Constitution