Saturday, December 29, 2012

Doing A Little Historical Searching Yourself...

I recently came across a couple other pictures of historic buildings around Pioneer Park in Provo.  The first is of the Provo Foundry and Machine Company.  Here is a picture of the old building from 1908 and the 1930's:

This building used to sit on the corner of 500 West and Center Street, right where the Fresh Market (previously Albertsons) parking lot is.  I found a really interesting book called Provo: The Garden City of Utah: Its Resources and Attractions.  It was published in 1888 by the Provo Chamber of Commerce as a means of informing people as to what Provo had to offer.  About the Provo Foundry it reads:

"It should be stated here also that the largest operating company for the manufacture of machinery and the working of brass and iron in Provo city, is the “Provo Foundry and Machine Company,” of which an organization was effected in January of 1886…. The main building occupied by the works of the company is 80x32 feet.  It is two stories high and is built of adobe and brick.  A commodious moding room in the rear of the building is 60x40 feet, besides engine rooms and shops which are usually constructed of such works.  The company has all the latest and most improved machinery—planers, turning lathes, power drills, and furnaces necessary for brass and iron casting, and the baking of cores for hollow iron works, with wide capacity, and facilities which do not include those used in the manufacture of machinery.  At present, but a limited number of workmen are employed by reason of the heavy cost of pig iron now imported from the east.  This difficulty will, however, be overcome at no distant day, as the company heretofore mentioned, which has in its possession the largest iron beds in the country, but a few miles from this city, contemplate the erection of furnaces for the manufacture of pig iron as soon as possible.  The foundry company has been thoroughly successful in its work, and is daily turning out machinery and castings fully equal to those produced by eastern institutions of a like kind."

I had a very difficult time finding any information about this building or company.  I believe the company was owned by a man with the last name Pierpont, who built and owned several of the homes around Provo.  The Foundry produced heating and plumbing pieces, many that are still being used in houses around Provo.  Although the second photo is from the 1920's or 30's, I do not know when the building was finally demolished.

Around the corner from the Foundry at 630 W 100 N is a really cool row of buildings called the Silver Row Apartments.  Here is a picture of it from around 1900 and what it looks like now:

Wikipedia has a great article about these apartments.  It reads:

"Built in 1890, the Silver Row Apartments were very representative of the times in the state of Utah.  Row houses, such as these, were prevalent in the larger cities of Utah and represent much of the lower-income residential architecture of the time period.  Few of the these examples remain today, making these apartments a valuable and significant asset to the state of Utah's history.  The Silver Row Apartments were disgnated to the provo City Historic Landmarks Registry on April 26, 1996.

"The original owner of Silver Row was David P. Felt.  Felt was born in Salt Lake City in 1860.  After marrying Nora Civish, Felt relocated to Provo, Utah.  Silver Row was built by him about 1890."

There are a couple of other places in that neighborhood that I wanted to include.  Here is an image from 1900 of the Bullock House, which was located just west on the Foundry between 500 and 600 West on Center Street, where the Fresh Market parking lot that currently is located:

Below is the 3rd Ward LDS Assembly Hall, located at 500 W and 100 N in Provo.  The building is currently part of Discovery Academy, a residential treatment center.

Courtesy of the Provo City Library

Below is Center Street at 700 West, facing west.  These houses pictured in this photo can still be found at the location, although trees have grown along the sidewalk, completely obstructing the view:

Courtesy of Brigham Young University, Lee Library, L Tom Perry Special Collection

Finally, the Strickland Residence, which was located at on the Southwest corner of 500 West and 100 North.

I was originally confused about where the Strickland residence was located at.  I finally found some old maps labeled the "Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps."  I was able to find the residence on the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map #10.  Its octagonal shape was easily distinguishable on the corner or 500 W and 100 S, located just north of the Foundry.  Below is the image that I am talking about.

I really enjoyed looking at the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.  If you are interested in researching about downtown Provo, or any other cities in Utah such as Salt Lake or Ogden, I would recommend checking out the Insurance Maps.  The best place is to go to the Mountain West Digital Library and search "Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps."  You will have to be specific about what city you want because there are almost 2,000 results from multiples years from places like Ogden, Provo, Salt Lake, Milford, Lehi, and many others.

The map that I included above is from a set from 1900 which shows several of the buildings located around the downtown Provo area, from 600 West to 400 East and from and from 600 North to 700 South.  Several of the buildings are labeled, and some you can distinguish by the shapes of the building, such as the octagonal shape on the Strickland residence.  In the Maps Center Street is 7th (and 100 North is 8th, 100 South is 6th) and University is J or Main (I is 100 West, K is 100 East; as a reference if you ever look at any other old maps, you may see University Avenue listed as Academy Avenue).  I encourage you to do a little bit or research ourself and learn more about the historical buildings in Provo area, or really any area in Utah,  that may be of interest to you.

As a final note, even though there are a couple more posts about historical buildings in downtown Provo, this is the last post about historical houses in Provo.  As I was researching this, I came across an interesting blog about historical homes in Utah County called Utah Valley Homes.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

I wanted to start some type of trivia/riddle/interactive puzzle somewhere in each post to try to involve readers and get them interested and involved in history.  I decided to call it "Lost in History."  I would love to offer some type of prize of reward, but since I am a poor college student, I don't have anything.  I might try to collect stuff as I travel around Utah photographing places, so if you have any suggestions, let me know.  Also, let me know what you think about this new section and any suggestions or comments you may have.

LOST IN HISTORY: The most popular "Utah's Present History" post, by far, about Provo has been the one about the Utah State Mental Hospital.  Although the Hospital is not located in downtown Provo, it is part of the Sanbourn Fire Insurnace Maps from 1900.  There are 25 sheets altogether, coving all of downtown, and a little more.  Which sheet is the Mental Hospital located on?  As an additional hint, you may want to follow the directions above about finding historical buildings around Provo (look at the paragraph below the Sanbourn Fire Insurance Map picture)


  1. Chad - this was very informative and I enjoyed reading it. I'm curious to know what encouraged you to do the research? I was involved with the renovation of the Academy Library and as I recall, the iron columns in the ball room came from the foundry. They were the largest pieces produced by the foundry to that date, and a parade was held when they were moved from the foundry to the BY Academy. Once again , thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow, thats really cool. Thanks for sharing. I guess that the reason why I have done the research (and this blog) is because I really enjoy it. I like old historical buildings and seeing how they have changed. I like to find out the story behind places around Utah. It also takes me to a lot of interesting places that I wouldn't have gone otherwise. I just really like it

  3. Been enjoying your blog and learning a lot more about the history of Utah Valley. A good page for narrowing your Sanborn Map search is the Marriott Library's Sanborn Map Page: They have a query box that allows you to narrow the range to a particular city and year, making the search through tons of maps a little more manageable. Keep up the great work and thanks again!

  4. Chad - this was very informative and I enjoyed reading it. I'm curious to know what encouraged you to do the research? I was involved with the renovation of the Academy Library and as I recall, the iron columns in the ball room came from the foundry.

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