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.


  1. I am not sure how accurate that last paragraph in wikipedia is either. I lived there from 1985-1987 and it is split into 9 apts. First we lived on the third floor in an apartment that had a tub with claw and ball feet and then we lived on the main floor in the big apartment with a beautiful fireplace with window seats. A few of the apts were studio apts but I never felt the spaces were awkwardly divided. The place is beautiful and there was always a waiting list to move in.

  2. my favorite house in Provo as well