Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A couple more houses in Provo

There are a couple more houses that I wanted to focus on that are near Center Street on the east side of University.

There are several great historic houses intermixed with an occasional apartment complex.  I have always wondered what was there before the apartment buildings were built.  One such building is the Gates house, located at 80 N and 200 E.  Here is what it looked like probably around 1900 and what it looks like today:

Courtesy of the J. Willard Marriott Library, University

Unfortunately, as to any of the history of this house, I couldn't find anything.  The owner was Jacob F. Gates (not the same person as the Mormon leader Jacob Gates).  Gates was made partner of a furniture store in Provo with an individual named Snow, and built the Gates-Snow building, located at 41 E. Center Street.  It is a really cool building that is really easy to miss, so next time you are downtown there try to check it out.  At some time, his house was torn down and the apartment was put in its place.  It isn't the most attractive replacement.

The next house is the Van Wagenen House located at 415 E Center Street.  Here is a picture of it from the 1940s and what it looks like today:

There is a great description of this house on the Provo City Landmarks Register Website.  It says:

"This home was completed in 1917 which was the time of our entry into the World War I. The architect and builder was Joseph Nelson....  Mr. Nelson had been to Europe to get more information on European architecture. It was one of the few fine homes built in this depression era. Alma Van Wagenen, the owner of the home, came to Provo in 1898 from Wasatch County and Salt Lake City where he was working for the Studebaker Carriage and Automobile Company.  He had the first automobile agency in Utah south of Salt Lake City....  This was the home of two former Mayors of Provo, first Alma Van Wagenen in 1928 and Harold Van Wagenen in 1957."
The previous house was actually the second house built by Alma Van Wagenen.  The first, located at 267 North 100 East, was built in 1900 as way to entice his wife to marry him.  Here is a picture of it:

Alma Van Wagenen also lived for a while in the house located at 905 E Center Street.  Here is a photo of that house as well:

Finally, I wanted to include a photo of one of my favorite houses on Center Street.  It is the Taylor home, located at 589 E. Center.  The reason why I like it so much is because it sort of looks like a cottage located right in the middle of Provo.  Here is a photo of it in the 1940s and what it looks like today:

The best information that I could get regarding the house is again from the Provo City Landmark Register Website.  It says:

"It appears that Fred R. Taylor and Mary J. Taylor were the owners of this property when this house was built. Dr. Taylor was a prominent pediatrician in Provo. From 1945 to 1947, the property was owned by lumberman, church and civic leader William Addison Spear. From 1950 to 1958, the property was held by the Arthur D. Sutton family. Mr. Sutton was a well-known druggist and theater/apartment house manager. This building is a good example of the English Tudor style, with steep roof pitch, plaster exterior walls and small window panes."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The druggiest looking historical house in Provo

When I first moved to Provo, I was attracted to the area around Center Street.  The houses are historical, look great, and it is just a cool area.  There has always been one house that has made me chuckle. In fact, I've always thought that it looks like a house inhabited by drug addicts, or at least constructed by drug addicts.  I have nothing to base that off of other than a huge onion looking thing on the house.  It really is an interesting place and it stands out quite a bit.  So today I am excited to be focusing on the Knight-Allen Home.  Here is a picture of it from the 1940s and what it looks like today:

Photo courtesy of the Provo City Landmarks website 

The Knight-Allen House is located at 390 E Center Street in Provo.  I couldn't find very much information about the house, but I feel like it is so unique that it deserves its own post.  The main information that I found about the house is from the Provo City Landmarks Register website, which states:

"Jesse Knight was instrumental in transforming Utah's early economy from basically an agrarian base to a more industrialized state by developing the mining of previous metals and minerals.  With the financial success of his mining industry, Jesse Knight was able to have the Knight-Allen House, the Jesse Knight House [this was part of a previous post] , and the Knight-Mangum House constructed [this was also part of a previous post].  Built in 1899, the Knight-Allen House was probably designed by the Richard C. Watkins, a prominent local architect.  The Victorian period's fascination with a variety of exotic styles is blatantly reflected in this house.  The design of the house combines a Moorish tin scalloped roof with an Italianate turret, Romanesque porch tiers, distinctive lintels, and several ornate window shapes.  By doing so, it is the best and most unique example of Victorian Eclecticism in Provo"

Wikipedia states that the Knight-Allen home was designated to the Provo City Historic Landmarks Registry on June 19, 1996.  Other than that, I couldn't find any information on the home.  I don't even know who the Allen is.  My one guess is that Jesse Knight built the house for his daughter Inez and her husband R. Eugene Allen (which is similar to the story behind the Knight-Mangum House).  The only problem with this theory is that the two were married in 1902 (you can read that in History of Utah by Orson Ferguson Whitney) while the house was built in 1899.  The Knight-Mangum Mansion was built specifically for Lester Mangum and his wife Jennie Knight Mangum.  However, it is possible that it was built before the two were married, given to them once they were married, and later named after them since they were the main inhabitants.

Here is one additional photo of the house:

So is the house actually a drug house?  Probably not (I hope there is someone that can prove me wrong). And were the builders drug addicts?  As far as I can read, that would also be a 'no' (Jesse Knight was famous for not allowing saloons in his mining towns).  Rather, the house is probably just the most flamboyant, unique, and interesting house on the Center Street area and as such one of my favorites.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Knight Mansion

Continuing on Provo Center street, a little further to the west from the Knight-Mangum Mansion, is the Knight mansion.  This building is located at 185 E Center.  Just to clarify, the house was built by Jesse Knight, although I have found his name also written as Jessie.  He is the father of Jennie Knight Mangum, the owner of the Knight-Mangum Mansion.  Here are a couple of photos of what it looked like in 1906 and what it looks like today:

Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society  

Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society  

Once again, there is a great summary regarding the history of the house on Wikipedia and I am going to quote mostly from the website:

"Perhaps the wealthiest man in Provo at the time, Jesse Knight was born in the year 1845 in Nauvoo, Illinois. Jesse’s family migrated west, and reached Utah in the year 1857. Twelve years later Jesse married a woman by the name of Amanda McEwan, and began a ranch in Payson, Utah. Following an impression that he had, Jesse began a mining operation in the Eureka area and became rich. He subsequently bought other mines, founded a bank, purchased real estate in Provo, bought the Provo Woolen Mills, and started farming and cattle interests in Canada. Throughout all of these efforts Jesse remained an active supporter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and his mines were called the 'cleanest mining camps in the west (Utah State Historical Society p. 2).' Jesse Knight died in 1921, designating much of his amassed fortune to B.Y.U. and various other institutions."

If you would like to read a really interesting history of Jesse Knight, click here.  Also, regarding his donations to BYU, he funded the Amanda Knight Hall and the Allen Hall .  Both are really cool buildings located near 800 N in Provo.

The house was constructed in 1905 and is built in the Colonial Revival Style , although one place I found said that it is actually neo-Classical.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and was designated to the Provo City Historic Landmarks Register on June 19, 1996.  Currently it is home to the Berg Mortuary.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Provo Center Street, Part 1 of many...

     The coolest and most historic residential area of Provo is by far Center Street.  There are some really amazing houses in this area, mostly between University Ave and around 700 East.  Over the next couple of posts I want to focus on some of these amazing buildings.

     The first one up for today is the Knight-Mangum House, which is located at 381 E Center Street in Provo.  Probably the best description regarding the history of the house is found directly on Wikipedia and most of this entry will be a direct quote from that site.  First though, here is what the house looked like probably around the time it was built and what it looks like today.  I think that the trees that are in the original picture are the same trees that are found in the current picture.  Also, since it is hard to see the house through all the trees, I added a picture of the house from the front:

Image courtesy of the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah 

     "The Knight-Mangum Mansion was built in the old English Tudor style, completed in 1908. It was built for Mr. W. Lester Mangum and his wife Jennie Knight Mangum. Mrs. Mangum was the daughter of the famous Utah mining man, Jessie Knight. The lot was purchased for $3,500 and the home was built at a cost of about $40,000. The Mangum family was able to afford the home due to the fact that they had sold their shares in Jessie Knight's mine located in Tintic, Utah, for eight dollars a share. They had purchased the shares for only twenty cents a share, so the excess allowed them enough funds to purchase the home."

     The wikipedia article had a really interesting piece on Jesse Knight: 

     "The successful commercial mining of precious metals and minerals transformed Utah's economy from basically an agrarian base to a more industrialized state. Within this development the Tintic Mining District (I did several posts on this area.  To learn more about it, click here, here , here , here, here, or here) located approximately thirty miles southwest of Provo, was founded in 1869 and by 1899 became the leading mining center in Utah with a value of output placed at five million dollars. A central figure in Tintic success was Jesse Knight and the Knight family who resided in Provo. Jesse Knight attained wealth with his Humbug mine in the mid-1890s. The large silver producer allowed Knight to develop other mines in the East Tintic area. Knightsville grew around the workings and became touted as the only saloon-free, prostitute-free, privately owned mining camp in the U.S. His strict adherence to doctrines of the LDS church made the town one inhabited primarily by Mormons.

     "Jessie Knight was able to expand farther than the Tintic mines, reaching to the power plant in Santaquin, the Tintic drain tunnel project, the Knight Dry farm, and the smelters at Silver City.  The Bonneville Mining company, the Knight Woolen Mills, Ellison Ranching Company, the American-Columbian Corporation, the Springville-Mapleton Sugar Company, the Spring Canyon Coal Company, Utah Savings Bank, the Layton Sugar Company, and the Tintiv Drain Tunnel Company all represent facets of the Knight Investment Company."

     The article concludes with the current state of the house:

     "After the death of Mr. Mangum in 1949, the home was sold to Paul Salisbury of Salt Lake City who divided the home up into eleven individual apartments.  In 1969 Mr. Milo Baughman, one of America's leading furniture designers and present chairman of the Environmental Design Department at BYU, acquired the home.  It is now used primarily for office space.... The Knight-Mangum mansion was designated as a historic landmark of the city of Provo on April 28, 1995."

     I don't know how much of the concluding paragraph is accurate.  I believe that the house is currently being used as apartments, not as an office space (but I think there are only 4 or 6, not 11).  In fact, I have heard that the building is split up really awkward and that it is kind of a weird place to live in.  Ultimately, if it is a weird place to live in, it is at least a pretty cool place to look at.

     I talked to a guy in Provo who mentioned that he wanted to buy the Knight-Mangum house and restore it to how it used to look.  I would totally support that.  It is an awesome house, but without the contrasting white paint that it used to have it looks quite scary.  It is a little too dar with all of the greens, browns and grays in addition to the monstrous trees and bushes that are everywhere.  However, even with its scary presence, it is still one of the coolest houses in Provo.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Duct Tape Version of the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium

     I wanted to throw out a recent art project that I did for the "Paint the Town Red" project.  Paint the Town Red is a local competition sponsored by the University of Utah and the Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance that tries to get local businesses to decorate their shops in support of the Utah Utes.  I decided that this would be a perfect time to do another tape art project, similar to one that I recently did of the Salt Lake City skyline.  This time I did the Rice-Eccles Stadium where the University of Utah Utes football team plays.  I did the piece of the side of Vosen's Bakery at 249 W 200 S in Salt Lake.  It is a cool shop and if you like local bakeries, go check it out.  Rather than using painter's tape like the Salt Lake City skyline piece, this project was done using only red and white duct tape.

     Hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Should a Mormon Apostle be a US Senator?

     The other day I concluded reading one of the most interesting books on early Mormon politics called The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon ApostleReed Smoot was elected to the United States Senate in 1903.  However, at the time he was an apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which will be referred to as the LDS Church.

     This election was extremely controversial because many in Washington D.C. felt that Smoot's election was the LDS Church trying to control the political arena in Utah.  Further controversy arose due to the continued practice of polygamy, even after the LDS church stated that they discontinued it (while I understand that this can be a contentious point for several people.  This is at least what the book argues).  Many in D.C. felt that Smoot may himself be a polygamist in addition to hostilities between Mormons and Protestants.  This resulted in several members of the Senate refusubg to seat him.  A huge trial commenced, called the Reed Smoot Hearings, which I believe has the largest collection in the US Library of Congress of trial evidence of any trial in US history.  It was a big deal (and is a really interesting read).  Here is a comic of the Smoot Hearings:

Courtesy of Wikipedia

    Smoot was eventually seated in the Senate despite several objections from fellow senators.  He ended up serving in the senate till 1933 and was a very influential and powerful member.  The whole story is a very interesting, and I feel not a well know part of US and LDS history.

     Smoot has a strong connection to Provo, Utah, and his house is located near downtown at 183 E. 100 S. (it is on the corner of 200 E and 100 S).  Smoot lived there from  1892 until his death in 1941.  The house is National Historic Landmark list;  there are only 15 places in Utah that are on the list, including Ft. Douglas, Temple Square, and the Brigham Young House.  It is also the only located on the list in Utah County.  The list is pretty exclusive and quite an honor for the house to be there.

     Here is a picture of the house at some time when Smoot was living in it (he is located on the far right in the top picture) and what it looks like today:

Courtesy of the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

     The plaque on the front of the house reads: "This house was built for reed and Ellie Eldredge Smoot [his wife who is in the picture above] in 1892.  Richard K. A. Kletting was the architect.  Reed Smoot, born in Salt Lake City in 1862, served as a member of the Quarum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church from 1900 until his death in 1941.  Senator Smoot represented Utah in the United States Senate from 1902 [although this date is controversial, since he wasn't seated until later] until 1933 and became a national leader of the Republican party.  Reed Smoot was the son of Abraham O. Smoot, pioneer, civic, business and Mormon church leader."  The house is still owned by relatives of Reed Smoot and some of his descendants work and live in the Provo area (I met one while researching another blog entry).

    The history surrounding Smoot is extremely interesting, and his legacy is a great addition to Provo.  To answer the question in the title, although the LDS church does not encourage Apostles to be Senators (and I think they may have just come out and forbidden it) in the 1900's the situation was different and they did encourage an Apostle to become a Senator from Utah.  I encourage anyone who has a little bit of time to read a little bit more about Reed Smoot.  Below are a few additional pictures of the house:

     I have to add one additional photo.  I love the neighborhood surrounding the Smoot House and feel that it is one of the best in Provo.  Also the orange house below was an inspiration for my sister's own house which she painted orange.  I thought that I'd add a photo of those as well.  Here they are:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Provo Mayor's House

     Today I wanted to continue with a historic home near the McCoy home.  Today's focus is known as the Ray House and is located at 415 S University Ave in Provo.  It is a beautiful house that I have always been interested in.  Also, I heard a rumor that it was once the designated house for the elected Provo mayor.  Here is what it looked like in the 1970's and what it looks like today:

Photo courtesy of

On Wikipedia, it states that William Ray (after who the house is named) was "born on December 30, 1864 to William and Martha E. Ray, in Gentry County, Missouri. WIlliam H. Ray grew up on a farm. After becoming certified as a teacher, Ray worked in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, before settling in Salt Lake in 1890. Once in Salt Lake, Ray worked as a car inspector for the Union Pacific Railroad and then the Oregon Short Line Railway Company, and in addition to this invested in real estate. 'In spite of limited salary from the railway company and therefore limited investment funds, in a period of five years he had advanced to become the senior partner in W. H. Ray Company, the largest real estate business in the area (Provo City Library p. 1).' In 1894 William H. Ray married Lottie L. Chappell, and had six children. Ray was a member of the Provo Community Congregational Church. Ray died on October 31, 1936 and was buried in Provo." 

The house is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.  The plaque on the front of the house reads, "The William H. Ray house, built c. 1898, is historically significant for its association with William H. Ray, an important turn-of-the-century entrepreneur in Provo.  He was a financier, banker, broker, and mayor of Provo.  The Ray House, which was probably designed by Richard C. Watkins, a prominent Utah architect, is architecturally significant as the most distinctive Provo example of the influence of the Romanesque Revival style on residential design."

On important achievement of Ray is that he was one of the founding members of the State Bank of Provo.  I had never heard of this bank so I did a little investigating.  The State Bank of Provo merged with the Springville Banking Co. in 1966 and became the Central Bank and Trust (the focus of another blog entry that I did), which was at the time the largest bank in Utah County.  The best information about the State Bank of Provo can be found on the Central Bank's website.  The State Bank of Provo was formed in 1902 by a random group of 16 men.  The bank prided itself on personally knowing every one of its customers.  It continued to grow after its start until its merger in '66.

I don't think that this house was ever the house for the elected mayor of Provo.  I believe that the rumor probably began because it was the house of the Provo mayor for a time, when Ray was the mayor of Provo.  The house is currently divided and used as several different apartments.

Here is one additional view of the house:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Was America's most wanted fugitive a Provo resident?

I love when the past and present come together at the same time.  While traveling around Provo taking photos of historical places, I came across an incredibly interesting story about a fugitive named D. B. Cooper.  Interestingly enough, this fugitive has ties to Provo, and stories about his real identity have surfaced over the past couple of weeks.

On November 24, 1971, a man named Dan Cooper (later referred to as D. B. Cooper) approached a Northwest Orient Airline desk and purchased a one way ticket to Seattle, Washington.  After takeoff, D. B. Cooper passed a note to the airline stewardess, which she put in her bag, assuming it was his number.  Cooper leaned over to the stewardess and told her to read the note, which stated, "I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked."

After showing the stewardess the bomb, he stated, "I want $200,000 in unmarked 20-dollar bills.  I want two back parachutes and two front parachutes. When we land, I want a fuel truck ready to refuel. No funny stuff or I’ll do the job."

The FBI quickly gathered the money and parachutes.  Cooper rejected the army parachutes initially given and the FBI retrieved civilian parachutes from a local sky diving school.  After the money and parachutes were brought to the Seattle-Tacoma airport, the plane landed, the items were given to Cooper, and the passengers were released.  While the plane was refueling, Cooper instructed the pilots to fly towards Mexico City.  It was determined that the plane must refuel once during the flight and Reno was selected as a destination. 

That evening, the plane took off, followed by two F-106 fighter air crafts, one above and one below the plane, so that Cooper could not see them.  The pilots in the cockpit were ordered to stay where they were.  About 20 minutes after take off, pilots noticed the rear plane door had been opened.  The pilots offered assistance but were told that everything was OK. Upon landing more than 3 hours later it was found that D. B. Cooper was not on the plane.  He had jumped out shortly after takeoff. 

It was assumed that Cooper jumped out somewhere north of Portland.  Some of the money given to Cooper was eventually found along the Columbia River.  However, even after years of investigation, Cooper's identity remained a mystery.

So what does this have to do with Provo.  One theory was that D. B. Cooper was actually a Provo resident, named Richard McCoy.  On April 7, 1972, McCoy boarded a in Denver, heading towards San Fransisco.  Armed with a paperweight which resembled a grenade, McCoy demanded $500,000 in ransom and 4 parachutes.  After receiving the ransom and parachutes in San Francisco, he ordered the planed back into the air, and jumped above Provo, Utah.  He was found two days later with the money and arrested after the FBI was able to track him down using his fingerprints he left on a magazine.  He was convicted to 45 years in prison, although he died in a shootout with FBI agents when he escaped after only serving two years of his sentence.

One of the most interesting photos that I came across was McCoy's house in Provo.  It is located at 360 S 200 E.  Here is a photo of it from around the 1980s and what it currently looks like:

Photo courtesy of the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

As you can tell, little has changed about the house and it probably appears today much as it did for the two days when McCoy was hiding as a fugitive there for two days.

While there have been books written about the connections between the two men (D.B. Cooper: The Real McCoy), several people who claimed that they were the same person, and similarities between the two hijackings, it was doubtful that McCoy was the actual D. B. Cooper.  Major flaws in any theory connecting the two men are differences in their ages and appearances and evidence that McCoy was in Las Vegas the day of the Cooper hijacking and in Provo the next.

 The D. B. Cooper case recently came to the public view again when a woman named Marla Cooper claimed that her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, was the hijacker (you can read about it here).  Lynn Doyle died in 1999.  At the same time, the FBI claimed they had a new witness in the case, and although they said that the witness had passed away more than 10 years ago, they did not confirm if it was Lynn or not.  However, other recent news reveals that the FBI's new witness's DNA did not confirm that it was D. B. Cooper, although it did not deny it either. 

Ultimately the case of D. B. Cooper remains a mystery.  Was D. B. Cooper Richard McCoy, Lynn Doyle Cooper, or someone else?  It is an extremely interesting part of US history, and luckily for all of you Utah history fans, one that has a cool connection with Utah.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Bulloch Mining Claim

     Down by Mount Carmel, on the east side of Zion National Park, there are some really interesting uranium mines.  My friend, Erik, recently featured the mines in his blog Lost and Never Coming Back.  He said that I could use his post and I am excited to talk about this cool place.  Here is what he wrote:

The Bulloch Uranium Mining Claims were started in 1949 by Henry Bulloch (born in Cedar City in 1911).  After World War II and the invention of the nuclear bomb uranium mining became a lucrative business—if
you could find the stuff!

Henry Bulloch married Jean Matheson, the sister of Scott Matheson (later the governor of the State of Utah).  Matheson helped fund Bulloch’s mining claim.

There were three mining claims near Orderville Gulch, Lynn claims 1, 2 and 3.  The 3rd claim was the only to produce significant amounts of uranium ore. There were three main tunnels and several exploration tunnels in the Lynn No. 3 claim, which were started in 1949.  The ore from them was made up of about .20% uranium – a high enough percentage to make a decent profit.

In 1950 Bulloch received a $100,000 grant from the US Government to continue mining.  The mine was open from March to November each year, and at its peak the mine produced about 300,000 tons of ore each year.  The ore was hauled by truck to Kanab and Cedar City where it was then shipped by train to the smelters in California..

The mining claim produced plenty of ore, but the uranium content was not high enough.  Each ton of ore averaged about .12% Uranium, not the .20% they had hoped for.  The mine operated until the end of 1953 when the US Government terminated its contract with Bulloch.  While other uranium mines were producing ore with higher uranium content, there was no need for Bulloch’s uranium mine.

The miners lived in 3 bunk houses, about 1 mile from the mining tunnels. The miners worked 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week.  Because uranium emits radon gas, ventilation was extremely important in uranium mines.  Fans were installed to keep oxygen levels up and radon levels down.  It was later realized that uranium miners developed cancer at a rate much higher than average due to the constant exposure to low levels of radiation.  In 1990 surviving American uranium miners received compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

The miners worked 10-12 hour days, and their pay included room and board.
(Money in parenthesis adjusted for inflation)
5 miners – $12/day  ($107/day)
5 muckers – $10/day ($90/day)
1 hoistman – $10/day ($90/day)
1 Manager – $500/month ($4,500/month)
1 Cook – $8/day ($71/day)

Bunk houses (3) – $500 a piece ($4,500)
Cook Cabin
Storage Tent
Power plant and electric generator (gasoline powered)
One forty ton ore bin
500 gallon Water tank

The three original bunk houses are still standing. 

 The power plant is above the mine tunnels.

The original power generator is still in place.

The caved in entrance to Lynn Claim 3 tunnel 2, the buried entrance to tunnel 1 is to the right.

The entrance to Lynn claim 3 tunnel number 2 has also caved in - there is a very small hole that you could crawl through, but if the mine is as crumbly as the entrance, it's probably not too safe.

The entrance to an exploratory tunnel, with Lynn claim No. 3 tunnel 3 (the deepest tunnel) in the bushes to the right

The entrance to tunnel 3

The tunnel splits about 100 ft into Tunnel 3

Inside one of the exploratory tunnels - it only goes back about 35 feet.

The outhouse is still there

     Thank you Erik for finding out that information!  The bunk houses (and mines which are down a little dirt road to the side of the houses) are located about 8 miles up North Fork Rd. which is located off of Highway 9 just east of Zion National Park.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pioneer Park in Provo

   Pioneer Park in Provo is one of my favorite areas in Provo, and one of the best parks in town.  The park is one of the oldest in Provo and is over 100 years old.  I found a great picture of it from around the 1920s:

Photo Courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University

Here is what the park looks like currently:

     There are a couple of big differences between the park today and what it looked like almost 100 years ago.  The biggest difference is the pavilion.  There is actually a plaque in front of the current picnic area that commemorates the old pavilion:

     The plaque is a little hard to read in the picture, but it says, "Provo Bandstand, Pioneer Park: Circa 1930-1991 [I found somewhere else that the pavilion was actually built in the 20s, so the construction date is a little questionable]: A grateful community dedicates this marker in honor of the business and professional women's club of Provo.  The Provo bandstand was funded and build under their direction to encourage the public performance of music and the arts.  The many activities held at the bandstand enriched the quality of life in the city which they loved."
     The bandstand was used mainly for concerts.  However, the concerts began to attract more people than the park could handle and they were moved to North Park, located at 500 N 500 W.  After moving the concerts, the bandstand was only used a couple of times a year.  Over time, the bandstand fell into disrepair.  It was eventually described as an eyesore in addition to a safety hazard.

     Around 1991, there was a lot of discussion about the bandstand and whether to renovate it or to construct something completely different (you can find discussion about it here, here, and here).  Provo City Council set aside $15,000 to renovate the bandstand, although it was initially speculated that the renovation would cost around $22,500 (although potentially up to around $40,000).  Provo was having difficulty raising the funds, and due to this and the lack of events being held at the location, Provo City decided to tear down the bandstand and construct a picnic pavilion.  I am a little confused because from what I can tell the cost of constructing the picnic stand came at the same cost of refurbishing the stand.  The compromise by the City Council was to put up a plaque memorializing the stand (which is shown in the photograph above).  The best quote that I found about the demolition of the band stand was from Mike Leventhal, director of the Utah Historical Foundation, who described the demolition and plaque as "we killed your grandmother, but here's a picture of her."
      The other big change involves an old canal that ran through the park.  The canal ran north and south along the east side of Pioneer Park (along 5th W).  The only picture that I could find of it is courtesy of the Daily Herald:

Around 2005, the canal was closed and filled because it was stated as a safety hazard.  However, recently plans have been created to rebuild some type of water feature at Pioneer Park.  The plan is to create a fountain like feature in front of the picnic pavilion (right where the bandstand plaque is currently located).  Construction on the project should be starting shortly, especially since construction is supposed to be completed around the beginning of Fall. It should bring back some excitement to Pioneer Park, and also add a wonderful addition to the Farmer's Market that is located at Pioneer Park and a great place for people to enjoy throughout the summer.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Historic Homes near Pioneer Park in Provo

     Today I wanted to focus on a couple of really cool houses that are located just a block away from each other on 100 S.  The first is the Angus Beebe House which is located at 489 W 100 S.  Here is a old photo of the building from the 1940s:

Photo courtesy of

     The Provo City Landmarks website states, "Built in 1903, the Beebe House is an unadorned example of the pattern book houses popular at the turn-of-the-century. The influence of the Queen Ann Style on this pattern book design is most evident in the square, stubby tower, with bell cast roof which projects through the porch roof and allows for an entry vestibule off the porch. The house was built for Angus G. Beebe, son of a flour-milling family, who was himself employed as bookkeeper of the Provo Roller Mills. The style and substance of the home suggest the aspirations to fashion of many second-generation Provo residents."
     The plaque on the houses states that "the Beebe House is a restrained example of the small, pattern-book house of the Victorian era.  A comprehensive survey of the city of Provo concluded that it is one of the best of only a few remaining examples of this type.  With its arrangement of square corner tower, gables and corner porches, it is the more sophisticated of only two pattern book houses in the city with an entry vestibule int eh corner tower.... Of interest in the interior is the grained interior woodwork.  The oak hardwood flooring is also intact."
     The house is currently used by the Bless Learning Center.  I am not sure what type of company that is, but I often see people out on the lawn doing a garage sale.  Here is what the house currently looks like:

The second building is located at 383 W 100 S, the Richard Hines Mansion.  Here is a photo of the building from the 1940s:

Photo courtesy of

    The Provo City Landmarks website states about the Hines Mansion, "This home was constructed in 1895 for Russell Spencer Hines, with money acquired from his mining, business and real estate ventures. Hines also owned and operated the Palace Saloon on Center Street. The Hines Mansion is Victorian in style and resembles the Reed Smoot home (183 East 100 South). This suggests that this home may have been designed by Richard K.A. Kletting, a prominent Utah architect who is known to have designed the Smoot home. An Award of Merit was presented by the Utah Heritage Foundation to Douglas K. Hardy for his renovation of the structure between 1975 and 1978. During that three-year period the first level wings were added. The cupola is a representation of the original which was removed many years ago. The Russell Spencer Hines Mansion is presently being used as a bed and breakfast inn." 
     The National Register of Historic Places Plaque on the building states that "After [Spencer Hines'] death in 1898, Kitty Hines [his wife] continued to live in the house until 1906 when it was rented to several individuals including Bert and Sarah Bowen who purchased the house in 1922.  Their daughter, Maude, inherited the house and lived in it with her husband, Benjamin Frank Roper, for 34 years."
     Here is the building as it currently looks:

     The building still looks amazing on the corner of 4th W and 1st S and as was stated earlier, it is currently the location of the Hines Mansion Bed and Breakfast.  Both buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.  And both are beautiful buildings that will hopefully be preserved for several years in the future.