Devereaux House was Salt Lake City’s earliest mansion and, in its day, the most elegant. As a unique mansion in an isolated frontier city, the Devereaux was the setting of many social gatherings that included prominent local citizens and important national and international visitors.
Portions of the house date from 1855, only eight years after the first arrival of the Mormon pioneers in Salt Lake Valley. Extensively added to and remodeled in the 1870’s, the Devereaux House estate featured the mansion, extensive ornamental gardens, a kitchen garden, hothouses, vineyards, orchards, stables, and a carriage house.
Owner Willian Jennings was a patron of the arts and furnished the interior with items collected during trips throughout the United States and abroad.
The coming of the railroad later turned this part of Salt Lake City into a commercial and industrial area, and for many years the mansion stood as a forlorn shell of its former glory.
On March 1, 1971 the Devereaux House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, in 1978, the Utah State Legislature purchased the property for future renovation. Three years later, the State and Triad Center entered into an agreement whereby Triad would maintain and manage the area once the buildings and grounds were restored. With federal, state, Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, and private funds, the Devereaux House, Carriage House, and gardens have been reconstructed for the benefit of present and future Utahns.
William Staines and William Jennings:
Two men figure most prominently in the history of Devereaux House.
William Staines was the original occupant of this property. Staines was an English-born horticulturist whose dedication to his “mission to beautify Zion” helped establish the rich landscape tradition which has since characterized Salt Lake City.
A convert to the Mormon faith, Staines, arrived in Salt Lake City in 1847. He acquired the property in 1855 and developed a cottage-style home in the midst of extensive English gardens. He later served as superintendent of Brigham Young’s gardens.
William Jennings purchased the property in 1867 and developed the present Devereaux House, incorporating Staines’ original cottage in the expanded structure.
Jennings was also an English convert to the Mormon church. Arriving in Salt Lake City in 1852, he entered the mercantile business. Taking advantage of the business opportunities of a rapidly-growing regional center, Jennings branched out into freighting and banking, becoming Utah’s first millionaire. In 1864 he founded the Eagle Emporium, which was later sold to the Mormon church and became the forerunner of the present-day ZCMI department store. In 1882 Jennings was elected Mayor of Salt Lake City, serving one term.
A hospitable and gracious host, Jennings entertained the famous and influential of the day. Devereaux House was the scene of lavish dinners and accommodated such prominent guests as Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes, and General William T. Sherman.