Monday, April 4, 2011

Provo's Most Hidden Historical Area

     A few months ago one Sunday I got a little bored and decided to go for a walk around where I live.  As I was walking I found one of the coolest and best preserved historical areas in Provo aside from downtown.  I have always enjoyed this area and was going to discuss it in my post about the Provo ZCMI building when amazingly I found a picture of this old historic place.  Interestingly enough, the history of the entire area revolves around candy.
     In 1830, a man named William Startup began a candy company in Manchester England.  William "made confections in the basement of his store in Manchester, England. His son, William Daw Startup  was born September 8, 1846 and, as a young boy, he learned the process from his father. William developed a delicious hard candy as a medicine and named it American Cough Candy because he wanted to come to America. His American dream never materialized. He died in March, 1862.
     William Daw met and married Hagar Hick (what a name) and both converted to Mormonism and immigrated to Utah in 1968.  William Daw brought his father's candy making supplies in addition to buying candy molds while stopping in Philadelphia.  They settled in the Salt Lake Valley and started their candy company, which included selling candy to individuals at Temple Square around general conference.
     In 1874, the family moved to Provo and opened a candy store located at 230 W Center.  In 1878, William Daw died expectantly and Hagar was forced to take over the candy shop, in addition to raising her four young children.  However with the help of her children, the business continued to grow and in 1894 they opened their first candy factory located at 69 S 300 W in Provo.  Here is a picture of the old building:

Photo courtesy of the Provo City Library

     The business continued to thrive and in 1895 they developed the first candy bar in America with a filling called "the Opera Bar."  They also developed a forerunner to modern breath mints, they were one of the only distributors in the area of Coca Cola, and they were one of the first producers of chewing gum.  At this time, Hagar's two sons William and George took over the company business.  Here is a picture of George's residence located at 260 S 100 W:

Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

     By 1898 the company had outgrown the small building and a new factory was built at 534 S 100 W.  Here is a picture of it from 1908:

Photo courtesy of the Provo City Library

     Business continued to grow and the company started to sell ice cream in a new ice cream parlor located at 82 W Center.  Ice was cut from Utah Lake and then stored and covered in saw dust to preserve it during the summer months.  During the Great Depression, business fell dramatically and the company had to be sold.  Walter was eventually able to buy back part of the factory and the building that currently houses the company.  Walter's son, Harry, is the current president of the company while his son Jon is the manager.  They hope to make a candy museum to show the ways that candy used to be made and display several of the old candy making tools that were brought to Utah from England.  If you would like to find out more about the Startup Candy Company, click here.
     Amazingly much of the history relating the the Startup Candy Company can still be found in Provo.  The original factory is currently a parking lot across from the police station, but both George's House and the candy factory on 500 W still stand.  Here are pictures of all three:

     The historical area that I was talking about is 100 W between 500 and 600 S.  There are several really cool historic buildings, in addition to a couple that are located on 600 S around Freedom Ave.  Here are a couple of pictures from the area:

     The Consignment Store is located about 150 W 600 S and if you are into indy or trendy looking things, I would totally recommend it.  It is a really cool place.  I would also just recommend going to walk around this area.  I really like it and the whole block is kind of a walk in the past.
     I am really excited about this area because of the potential that it has.  In the past, I think that this area has been a really shady area and avoided by lots of people.  However, there are plans to build a the future Provo bus terminal and frontrunner station across the railroad tracks.  The station will essentially be bound by the railroad tracks, University Ave, Freedom, and 900 S.  You can kind of see a map of it at this site.  Also there are plans to add some kind of crazy/cool art work (here is a picture).  I love this area, and I think that it has a lot of potential.  I hope that the train and bus station brings in a lot of new business and revives it so that Provo can have one more historically important area.

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