Sunday, July 22, 2012

Utah County Courthouse

It has been a long travel through Provo.  If you haven't noticed, most of the city has been covered except for one gaping hole: Center Street.  Provo's Center Street may be the most historical area in Utah County, and since it is also the most overwhelming, I have avoided it untill now.

One of the most prominent buildings on Center is the Utah County Courthouse.  The history of this building is best reported by Utah County Online, which I will be using as my main source.  Here is what they say about the building:

"In 1860, $2,000 was appropriated to build a courthouse.  This was Provo's first building constructed to be used as a courthouse.  The one-store brick structure was started in 1866 and finished in 1867 at a cost of $5,092.16.  It was built on First West between First and Second North.

"It served as a jail and courthouse for five years and then was sold to the Provo Woolen Mills.  A notable event in the history of this building was the trial, conviction, and execution of Chauney M. Millard on January 26, 1869.  He was executed for the murder of two herders north of Utah Lake while people, filling the square, watched."

Here is a picture of the original courthouse from 1866 (and if you would like to see the block where the Courthouse used to stand, click here):

Courtesy of the Provo City Library

"In 1870, Provo City posted bids for the construction of a new courthouse.  The work on  this building began in 1872 and was completed in 1873 at a cost of $21,478.80.  Brigham Young was at the dedication of the Courthouse on October 14, 1873."

Here is a picture of the building from 1875 in addition to a picture of Center Street from the top of the courthouse in 1878 with the Woolen Mills in the distance:

Photo courtesy of the Provo City Library

Photo courtesy of the Provo City Library

"The building was constructed facing north on Center Street on City and County land.  The contractors were paid one-third in cash, one-third in grain, and one-third in shares of the Provo Woolen Mills stock.  By 1919, the courthouse was found to be too small for the needs of the growing city and county, and plans were then made to construct a new and larger city and county building.  It was razed between 1919 and 1920 when the present Courthouse building was begun in 1920.

"While the present Courthouse was under construction, court sessions were held on the third floor of the Knight building.

"In the early part of 1919 the citizens of Utah County and Provo City respectively voted bonds for the erection of a joint city and county building to be built in Provo.  The agreement between the two corporations was that the County should pay for two-thirds of the building and occupy a corresponding portion of it, while the city should pay one-third of the building.

"The city and County officials jointly engaged Joseph Nelson of Provo as the architect for the building...

"It was decided that a tour of the West Coast be taken to see what had been done in other communities in the way of administrative buildings.  On July 9, 1919, a party of city and county officials and the architect left for California.  Visits were made to various localities of interest from Los Angeles on the south to Everett, Washington, on the north.  This trip largely determined the type, size, and cost of the building that was to be erected....

"The work was begun in the spring of 1919 and competed in the late fall of 1926, so that the time consumed in the work is a little more than six and one-half years" at a cost of $576, 495.30.

Here is a picture of the building in 1926 and what it looks like today:

Courtesy of the Provo City Library

On the Utah County Online website, there is an interesting quote from the architect regarding the sculpture found in the pediment (the triangle part above the pillars where the entrance is).  He said, "The building is a courthouse, therefore, quite consistently, Justice stands with her balances resting upon the law, in one hand, and with her sword in the other.  The building is also to house the city and county offices, therefore, on the right hand of Justice sits a woman representing the County, supporting with one hand a shield bearing the inscription, 'County of Utah' and in the other a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, overflowing with the good things produced in the region.  Then the various arts and industries are represented at her side.  Her horticulture is represented by the fruit trees; her dairying and stock raising by the front quarters of an animal projecting beyond the tree; her lining by the pick and shovel at the side of the tunnel entrance to the mine in the mountain; and further down, her sheep raising and poultry farming, respectively.

"On the other side of Justice sits likewise Provo City, enthroned and supporting a shield with the inscription 'City of Provo,' emblazoned thereon.  She is flanked by the hard and viol, the vase, the cogwheel, a stack of books, and an artist's palette; these represent her arts, her industries, and her educational advantages."

Behind the Courthouse is one of the coolest trees I have ever seen in my life.  It is an Ulmus Americana.  The odd thing about the tree is that rather than growing up, it grows outward.  The branches are spread out over a large area and metal poles have been placed to help support the massive limbs.  When I took these pictures, there was a fence up around the tree, but generally there is not, and I've been told that County employees enjoy sitting on the benches underneath the tree.  Here are some pictures of it:

The plaque below the tree reads: "The exceedingly rare Ulmus Americana tree (also known as a White Elm or a Weeping American Elm) was planted in 1927 by Moroni Wilford (Roni) Christopherson of Spanish Fork, Utah.  Roni was an employee of Utah County for twenty-seven years.

"Sometime in 1927, the county commissioners sent Roni and Elmer Pulley to Ogden to buy trees, shrubs, and flowers for the Utah County Couthouse grounds as a landscaping project.  The nursery owner gave Roni this tree as a gift.  The tree was an experimental ornamental tree created by budding different trees together.

"Roni chose to plant his gift tree east of the new Utah County Courthouse where people could stop and admire its beauty.  The nursery owner came to Provo several times to check the tree in its growing state.  The nursery owner called the tree a Weeping American Elm."

I want to conclude this post with a bit of a picture mystery.  While surfing on a construction website, I came across the following picture of the Provo City Offices:

Someone asked where this building was located.  I thought that it was located on the corner of University Ave. and Center Street.  You can see a building to the right which is the County Courthouse and the mountains in the background clearly distinguish its location on University.  However, I am confused as to why this building would have ever been built since Provo owned a portion of the County Courthouse (unless the offices were built before the Courthouse was).  I also have yet to hear any confirmation that University and Center is the location of this building.  If you have any information, feel free to share.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Power, Pools, and Pioneers

One of the most prominent buildings in Provo is the Provo Power Company Building, located near the corner of Freedom (200 West) and 800 North.  Here is what the building looked like in 1949 and what it currently looks like:

 Courtesy of the Provo City Library Historical Photographs

The photo was hard to reproduce due to the growth of the trees in the area.  I tried to get some good photos of the building and have added them below.

The best history that I found of the Provo City Power Company Building is on the Provo City website.  It states:

"Provo's quest for public power is rooted in the Great Depression of the 1930's when banks, businesses and utilities were failing across the country.  many citizens believed the time had come for Provo to gain control of their electric utility, as Logan, and other western cities had previously done.  prominent civic leaders envisioned a municipally owned electric utility as a vehicle to enhance city funds and to provide local jobs to the community..."

"On October 1, 1936 Provo residents voted affirmatively to issue bonds for the construction of a Provo Power Plant.  Lawsuits and delay tactics on the part of Utah Power & Light waylaid construction of the power plan until 1940.  At the dedication of the Power Plant on April 1, 1940, Provo's residents realized their dream of a locally owned, locally controlled power utility.

"From 1935 until 1940, resident's need for electricity increased by 80 percent.  The postwar years through the rest of the 40's and 50's brought a building boom and again more power needs.  By 1947 it was evident that the plant would need to be expanded. The construction was completed in 1949, nearly doubling the plant."

Near the power plant are located quite a few other historical spots.  Next to the Power Plant is the Provo City Recreation Center.  This building is currently undergoing a huge transformation, as Provo recently voted on a bond to build an entirely new recreation center.  Here are two photos of what the area previously looked like and what the area looked like last year.

Courtesy of the Provo City LIbrary Historical Photographs  

 Courtesy of the Provo City LIbrary Historical Photographs 

More updates about the Recreation Center can be found here, here, here, and here.

Located by one of the corners of the fence surrounding the water park is an interesting plaque.  It is labeled "Craghead field"and reads:

"This was the former site of Craghead Field and the location of the Western Boys' Baseball Association LIttle League World Series in 1961.  Named after Jack Craghead, owner of Craghead Plumbing, this field was home to the American and Central Boys Caseball Leagues.  Jack served as coach, league president, district director, and general tournament chairman for the 1961 WBBA World Series.

"While serving as tournament chairman, Jack spent countless hours contacting local business for donations to renovate the facility.  This effort resulted in the construction of a new backstop, outfield fenching, dugouts, a scoreboard, and concession stand with announcers booth above.  At the time, it was considered one of the best little league or youth ballparks in the west.

"Craghead Field remained in use until a new youth baseball four-plex was built at Fort Utah Park in 1994.  The Jack Craghead family felt that this splash pool addition would be an excellent use as a continued recreational site for the youth of today and the future."

Located just to the west of the water park is the Provo Pioneer Museum.  Here is a picture of it from 1937 and what it looks like now, in addition to some photos of the pioneer village which is located next to it:

 Courtesy of the Provo City Library Historical Photographs

The plaque in front of the museum states that it was "constructed by Provo City, assisted by Provo Daughters and Sons of Utah Pioneers and the Works Progress Administration, 1935-1937."  An additional plaque in front states "Provo was settled by Mormon Pioneers March 12, 1849.  East of this monument a second fort was built in April, 1850.  It was here that the settlers were threatened with massacre by Chief Walker and his band of indians, but were saved by Chief Sowiett's stern warning, 'When you attack you will find me and my braves defending.'"  The picture of the carving of the Indian chief above is of Chief Sowiett.

According to a Daily Herald article, the pioneer village "originally opened in 1931 under the care of the George A. Smith chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers (SUP); by 1998 the chapter was dissolved and the village deteriorated.  By 2006, with just a few of the chapter left, they joined with the Brigham Young chapter and the village got a new lease on life."  The village contains the Haws cabin, built by Oliver Haws in 1854, and the Turner cabin, built by John W. Turner in 1853.  The Turner cabin is one of the oldest structures still existing in Utah.  The Turner cabin was the first moved to the site and the village slowly formed around it.  In addition, the village contains a one-room schoolhouse, which was originally a shed until 1883 when the city of Provo purchased it, and one of two remaining oxen lifts of that particular style in the United States.  The lifts were used to hoist an ox so a blacksmith could shoe it.

Additionally on the site is an interesting stone.  You can see the stone directly in front of the Museum in the first picture above.  Here is a close-up:

The plaque below it reads:

"Old Tabernacle Lintel Stone.  This sandstone lintel capped the front entrance of the Provo Meeting House (Old Tabernacle), once a landmark of the Tabernacle Block.

"The building was dedicated by apostle John Taylor, August 24, 1867 at services conducted by President Brigham Young.  It was dismantled in 1918-18 by George Albert Clark and sons.  The Clark family donated it to the Sons and Daughters of Utah Pioneers of Provo for preservation.  Stone placed here July 24, 1954."

If you would like to read more about the Older Tabernacle, click here.

I can't leave a post about this area without talking about the Quill and the Sword Club at BYU.  The club mainly involves Medieval recreation, which means mostly sword fighting.  Individuals from the club can be found sword fighting at the park near the Pioneer Museum throughout the year.  And finally, speaking of the Quill and the Sword Club, check out this awesome video about a flash mob that involved a similar club at BYU Idaho.