Photo courtesy of provo.org
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: