Built 1891-1894 of Kyune Sandstone, the Salt Lake City and County Building served as Utah’s State Capitol Building from the time Utah became a state in 1896 until the new Capitol Building was built in 1915.
The Salt Lake City and County Building is one of Salt Lake City‘s most beloved landmarks. Completed in the 1894, the building is Utah ‘s finest example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Numerous detailed carvings, including Indian Chiefs, Spanish explorers, and the faces of the first Mormon women to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley decorate the building’s exterior. Columbia, a personification of the United States, crowns the clock tower. During the late 1980s, Salt Lake City undertook a major renovation of the building. It now sits on 440 base isolators which will allow the building to move as a whole during an earthquake. This seismic retrofit project received international attention for pioneering the use of base isolators in historic buildings.
The last trial held in this building, in 1978 was that of Ted Bundy, serial killer.
The City and County Building is located near the center of the ten-acre Washington Square.
City records say that the architects patterned the building after the old “Town Hall in London, England” which was a late Gothic reconstruction by Christopher Wren. Some local architects claim it is “Richardsonian Romanesque,” named after H. H. Richardson (1838-1896) who started a Romanesque revival in architecture. The walls, made of rough-hewn Kyune sandstone quarried in Summit County, are faced with brick on the inside and have a width of over five feet, which slowly tapers off with height. There are four entrances, : the west side being the main one. In design it corresponds to the east entrance, as the south and north approaches correspond to each other in a simpler design. Above each of them there used to be a statue; the east and west were crowned by a statue of Commerce, on the north was a statue of Liberty, on the south a statue of Justice, while the tower was crowned by a statue of Columbia. The 1934 earthquake tilted the Columbia, and it was taken down. The others followed suit when they became a hazard. The sculpture that is left is of an ornamental nature and is to be found mainly in and on the entrance ways, on the balconies and on the windows above them. Frenchman Linde, the chief sculptor, carved his own portrait on the north side between the words “City and Hall.” The rest of his carvings take in the entire range of Utah history from prehistoric Lake Bonneville to the time of the erection of the building.
The building is 271 feet x 150 feet, and the main walls rise 72 feet in five floors. It is 303 feet to the top of the tower. The original Otis elevator was still used until at least the 1970s. The tower clock and bells (weighing up, to 2, 500 pounds) record the time on the hours and quarter hours. The actual cost at the time of construction was $250,000 for land and 884,000 for the building itself.
In the past few decades, layers of sandstone have begun to peel off from the parapets and the balconies, and structure Ts in great need of repair. Extensive remodeling on the interior has changed the character of the building considerably in certain areas; however, a restoration to “near” original would be possible throughout the building’s four main floor and grand hallways. The stone and woodwork on the interior originally represented Utah industry and resources very well.
Number 451 Washington Square, the official address for the City and County Building, is one of the most historic spots in Utah. The square received its name on August 22, 1847, just barely a month after the Willard Richards Company had entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 23, 1847, and had made their camp on that very spot. In 1890, a contract was let to build a joint City and County Building at First South and State Street, where the Federal Building and Plaza are now located. The sudden growth of the city made the plans inadequate and the soil conditions proved unsatisfactory, so the plans and site were abandoned in 1891. Instead, it was decided to build on Washington Square, The architectural firm of Proudfoot, Bird and Monheim was engaged to design a new joint building, and construction was begun on December 8, 1891. W. S. Mills, mason contractor, designed and engineered the first swinging cranes or derricks to be used in American construction.- The cornerstone was laid on July 25, 1892, under the auspices of the Masonic Fraternity. On December 28, 1894, the City and County Building was.dedicated by Wilford Woodruff, President of the Mormon Church. The south half was to be used by the County, while the northern half was to be occupied by the city offices. But in 1896, the territory was granted Statehood, and because there was no State Capitol Building at the time — the one in Fillmore having never been completed the City and County Building served as the first State Capitol Building in Utah until the present one was completed in 1915. It has been in continuous use for City and County government since its construction. The north half of the building serves the City and the south half the County governments.