David Branson Brinton Home
The adobe (center) section of this home was built in 1877 by David Branson Brinton.
The east and west additions were constructed by Brinton of brick and were completed in 1896.
The David Branson Brinton House is significant for its association with the lives of three locally prominent historical figures: David Brinton, David Branson Brinton, Sr. and David Branson Brinton, Jr., all of who played important roles in the growth and development of Holladay, Utah, one of the state’s earliest settlements. The three were particularly noted as religious leaders but were involved in a variety of community building roles. The Brinton Home is one of the oldest surviving structures in the Holladay area and is architecturally representative of the pioneer period during which it was constructed. The home and much of its rural setting is intact. The Brinton Home is locally considered an historic landmark.
Following the arrival of the first party of Mormon pioneers to the Great Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, Salt Lake City was founded and built. The following spring, groups of settlers were sent north and south of the city to establish other communities The first permanent settlement made outside of Salt Lake City was Holladay’s Burgh, (later Holliday) named after the founder, John Holladay, which was established on Spring Creek, a tributary of Big Cottonwood Creek, three miles north of the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Among the settlers of 1848-49 was David Brinton (1814-1878) and his family. The Brintons had historically been builders and blacksmiths. William Brinton, David’s great-grandfather, built a three-story house in 1704 in Delworth Town, Pennsylvania, and Brinton’s Mill at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, both National Register sites. David Brinton was a well-known colonizer, missionary and church leader. He was sent on various scouting missions by Mormon leader, Brigham Young, and was among those to select and establish the site of Parowan, an important central Utah settlement in 1851, and was part of the first party to investigate possible settlement areas near Fort Bridger, Wyoming.
As an early pioneer of Holladay, David Brinton obtained lots five and six of the Holladay Field Plat of 1849. To these properties he added several others and eventually controlled valuable commercial and agricultural land in the center of the community. A blacksmith by trade, David built a blacksmith shop on the southeast corner of 4800 South and lower County Road (Highland Drive) where Utah’s first major shopping mall was later built. On this same land, he had a large farm on which he raised produce and meat for the consumption of the military at Fort Douglas.
In the late 1860’s, Brinton saw the need for a supply station or store closer to the community than Salt Lake City. Consequently, in 1868, he and his sons built the first store in the area, the Big Cottonwood Co-Operative Store, on his property. In 1869 following the establishment of the Zions Co-Operative Mercantile Institution (Z.C.M.I.) system in Utah Territory, the store became a church-owned and operated venture. In later years, following the demise of the co-op store network, Brinton took over private ownership of the facility.
David Brinton was an important religious leader in Holliday. In 1856, he was ordained Bishop of the Mormon congregation there and maintained that position, despite serving as a missionary in England in 1857-58 and 1870-71 until released in 1873. He promoted education by having a school built on his property in 1852 and had his daughters teach at the school.
Brinton was somewhat of a controversial figure, being involved in local issues which resolved only after the intervention of Mormon Church President, Brigham Young, and some of the Mormon apostles. In one instance, Bishop Brinton disputed with James Spillet over whether or not a liquor distillery should be allowed to be built in the ward (ecclesiastical district). The distillery for making whiskey was subsequently built and “caused considerable drunkeness” according to one account. In 1870, a group of people sent a petition to Brigham Young requesting the removal of David Brinton as Bishop. Three Apostles came to Holladay and met with the disgruntled faction and after much deliberation, convinced them to sustain their leader.
Despite these difficulties, Brinton was known as the area’s “most prominent person.” The main intersection of town was named “Brinton’s Corner” and a new Latter-day Saint ward created in 1911 was named the Brinton Ward.
David Branson Brinton, Sr. (1850-1929) was one year old when his family came to Utah and helped settle Holladay f s Burgh. He followed his father’s profession of blacksmithing and also helped his father build and run the Co-Op store. David Branson attended college at the University of Deseret and became a prominent builder in the state. He constructed numerous school houses and roads in Salt Lake County and the 0. B. Dam on the Sevier River, the Hatch Dam and the Grace Power Plant in Idaho. Like his father, David Branson served in several community capacities including Mormon Bishop from 1877 to 1900 and County Postmaster, Constable and Librarian.
David Branson Brinton married Susan E. Huffaker in 1874 and according to family records, commenced building their brick home in 1877. It is claimed that the central section of the present house was built first followed by the eastern and finally the western sections. A close examination of the home suggests, however, that the central and eastern section were built at the same time and possibly as early as the late 1860’s. The home was built on the old Brinton homestead where the earliest family residences were erected in or after 1848. It may be that the home in question was actually built by David Brinton after 1865 and was taken over by his son following his marriage in 1874. In any event, the last part of the home built, the western wing, was erected in 1896. The home is well-preserved and has not been significantly altered over the years. Its architecture combines an “L”-shaped vernacular structure, trimmed with Federal lintels, with a later Victorian wing with Eastlake trim. The home is one of the oldest remaining in the Holliday area.
The third significant figure to be associated with the Brinton Home was David Branson Brinton, Jr. (1882-1956). He was raised in the home and became the third member of his family line to occupy the position of Bishop in Holladay. Counting his service from 1914-1926, the three generations of Brinton’s served as Bishops for a total of 52 of the community’s 70 years from 1856 to 1956.
David Branson Brinton was educated at the University of Utah from 1902-1906 and served as a Mormon missionary to New York in 1907-09. He became associated with the development of the electrical power industry as result of his knowledge of the hydraulic potential of Big Cottonwood Creek. After serving as manager of the Progress Company, an early Utah power company, he became owner and proprietor of the Brinton Electric Company, founded in 1920. Brinton’s later years were accepted in Church service as he became the Stake President (leader over several “wards” or congregations) of the Cottonwood Stake in 1946, and Stake Patriarch in 1950. Since David B. Brinton, Jr., three more generations, each represented by a son named David Branson Brinton, have become associated with the old Brinton Home, a building which is locally considered an important historical landmark.
The Brinton House was built in at least two stages, beginning in the late 1860’s or early 70’s and ending in 1896. The home has an irregular plan and features two distinctly different architectural styles or periods.
The oldest part of the building consists of its central and eastern sections. These appear to have been built at the same time as the exterior brickwork is integral at all corners and across all walls. Some bricks taken from a wall are stamped “1869” and the patent date on extant box-locks is “1866”, perhaps indicating an original construction date earlier than 1877.
The central part of the building contains four major spaces while the eastern part, which runs laterally to the central section, has two rooms considered together, this “L”-shaped structure represents the original Brinton Home. It is built upon a gray, granite foundation and has a brick superstructure. The brick appears to be handformed and kiln-baked and is not uniformed shaped, i.e., does not appear to have been made commercially. The bricks are laid in common bond with a lime mortar and flush or slightly concave joints. The brick varies in color from cream to light salmon. The one story structure has ten-foot tall ceilings and simply moulded interior trim, including picture rails and four-panel doors. Exterior trim is plain, excepting the decorative scroll-sawed porch brackets, Federal lintel caps and foliated scroll bargeboard.
The original porch which runs across the full width of the central section of the home is intact, including the rounded columns and wooden floor. The roof ridge of the “L”-shaped roof is at one level. The two identically designed, corbeled brick chimneys are intact.
The western wing of the Brinton Home is two stories tall and features pressed dark salmon or red brick and peut corners on the front facade. This added laterally to the central part of the old home in 1896, the newer wing has a hip roof, segmentally arched window bays and extensive interior Eastlake trim. The wing contains a large living room and dining room on the first floor and three bedrooms on the second floor. The stairway to the second floor was built in the western end of what is now the central section. Ornate Eastlake doors, newell posts, railings and balusters were added to that part of the original building in 1896.
The exterior of the Brinton has not been altered since 1896, excepting the addition of a screened porch to the rear of the building which appears to date from the 1920 T s. The major interior spaces are basically unaltered, although a modern kitchen, bathroom and utility room have been created within the existing back rooms of the home. The original parlor fireplace, moulded ceiling cornice, box-locks and Victorian trim are intact in most areas. The interior walls are believed to be adobelined and are lathed and plastered. Original paint and wallcovering are not extant.