Thursday, February 17, 2011

Taylor Brothers Building

Today has probably been the funnest rephotographing yet.  I didn't have very much time today and so I was in a little bit of a crunch.  I did however squeeze in a moment to go rephotograph a picture  from Center St. in Provo.  The only clue I had to its whereabouts was that it was the Taylor Brothers Building on Center between 2nd and 3rd.  There is only one three story building on Center so I decided that it must be the one below.

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

As you can tell, this building looks dramatically different from the one above.  There are a few similarities, and when I walked by the building there is a large sign that says Taylor Brothers Building.  However, I got a little confused when I found the following picture.

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

This picture was labeled as the Taylor Bros Co. Building.  I thought that may be there were two different buildings, especially since the picture above was labeled as 128 W. Center, which would place it between 1st and 2nd west.  I looked around different buildings on googlemaps for about half an hour to figure out if there were two separate buildings.  Finally, I looked at the two buildings, and I realized that they are identical.  Both pictures come from around 1885.

I finally figured out a little more when I came across the following information from the Utah Heritage Foundation:

 "The historic Taylor Brothers Company Building represents one man's tum-of-the century vision for downtown Provo. Thomas Taylor worked tirelessly to make the west end of Center Street Provo's commercial hub. He twice expanded the Taylor Brothers Building to keep up with improvements in the competing east downtown. With the completion of the second expansion in 1911, the Taylor Brothers Building was the most sophisticated example of commercial architecture in the city.

"When William Bancroft first saw the building, water was falling from the third floor to a large plastic garbage can on the first floor. The elevator was condemned and the building's historic facade was marred by an insensitive 1950s remodel. Bancroft knew the Taylor Brothers Building was for sale and feared that a new owner might tear it down. Motivated by his love of history and vision of the building's potential, Bancroft purchased the Taylor Brothers Building in 1994.

"The first steps in renovating the building were replacing the roof and installing a new elevator. Both proved to be herculean tasks. Restoring the building's facade required removing the 1950s brick arches to expose historic steel columns and uncovering a row of transom windows beneath non-historic signage. The rehabilitation of the building's interior created attractive retail and restaurant space on the first floor and modem offices on the second and third floors."

In 1885, the Taylor Building was 1/3 of its originally length along Provo Center Street.  Even though the front facade looks like one continuous building, from the back it is easy to distinguish that the building was built in three separate stages. Below is another picture that I took of only the Taylor Brothers Building as it looks today.

One cool thing about the old picture I found is to see how much Center Street has changed from 1885.  I think that the Taylor Building is the only structure that still stands from the original photo.  However, it is a really cool structure and I'm glad its stuck around.

Currently, the Utah County Convention Center is being built right next door to this old building.  Also if you look here, it is a link to the Provo City Mayors blog.  He's got an interesting article about an idea that some students from the University of Utah had for the space between the Taylor Building and the new Convention Center.  It will be interesting to see how this block develops over the coming years.

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