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Cornell Apartments

101 South 600 East, Salt Lake City, Utah

Constructed in 1910, the Cornell Apartments is one of over 180 “urban apartments” built in Salt Lake City during the first three decades of the twentieth century, a period of unprecedented expansion and urbanization. Over 60 percent of those buildings are either listed or eligible for listing in the National Register. Urban apartments are significant under Criterion C as a distinct and important type of residential building in the city. Apartments are remarkably consistent with one another in terms of building plan, height, roof type, materials, and stylistic features. These and other characteristics mark them as a new and distinct type of early twentieth century residential building. Under Criterion A, urban apartments are significant for their association with the rapid urbanization of Salt Lake City during the 1890s-1930 period. The growth that took place during those decades spurred the construction of two opposing types of housing in the city: urban apartments and suburban homes. Suburban homes represent a rejection of urban conditions. Apartments, on the other hand, document the accommodation of builders and residents to the realities of crowded living conditions and high land values. They were a significant new housing option that emerged in response to the growth that transformed Salt Lake City into an urban center during the early twentieth century.

Constructed in 1910, the Cornell Apartments are a three-story brick building with a parapet roof, brick foundation, and modest Neo-Classical Revival/Colonial Revival styling. Ho significant alterations have been made to the building.
The Cornell is a variant of the “walk-up” type apartment building. The basic walk-up contains six units, is three stories in height, one apartment deep and two units in width across the façade. It has a central entrance/stairway with two apartments opening off each landing. That basic plan is doubled on the Cornell; in essence the building is two walk-up apartments with a common side wall. Thus, the building is a narrow rectangular building with its broad side facing the principal street. The façade is symmetrical except for the northernmost section, where there are no windows on either side of the porches- -the lot was simply too small to accommodate those two bays on the façade. Instead, the apartments there protrude to the rear in order to provide living space of comparable size with the other units in the building. There are projecting, three-story front porches with classical columns and pedimented roof. On the rear there are frame service porches connected by open walkways and stairs. Some of the windows in the service porches have been covered with plywood, but they are essentially unaltered.

The building permit for the Cornell Apartments was issued on July 15, 1910, to W.C.A. Vissing, one of the most active developers of apartment buildings in Salt Lake City during the pre-World War I period. The estimated cost of the 13-unit building was $25,000.

Vissing acquired this property in January 1910 from the Loraine Investment Company in exchange for the Arlington Apartments, located at 415 First Avenue.

As part of that deal he also obtained property at the corner of 800 East and 100 South where he built the Bernice Apartments in 1912.1 The Bernice and Cornell apartments are almost identical, though the Bernice has been altered in recent years.

Visaing owned this building for only a short time, selling it 1912 to Blanche Castleman for $32,000. The building changed hands four times over the ensuing decade before being purchased by Jacob Bergerman in 1923. It remained in the Bergerman family through at least 1934.

W.C.A. “Andy” Vissing constructed at least 20 major apartment buildings in Salt Lake City during his career. Born in Denmark in 1874, he emigrated to the U.S. and Salt Lake City at the age of fourteen. He started in the construction business as a young man and continued until his death in 1936. He is credited as “one of the first local apartment house builders.” He constructed some of the largest apartments in the city, including the Hillcrest, Buckingham, Fairmont and Commander apartments. The first apartments he is known to have constructed were the LaFrance Apartments in 1905. That was also the first of several apartment projects in which he was involved with Covey Investment Company, another major developer and owner of apartments in Salt Lake City. Vissing was primarily a contractor, not an apartment manager, so he usually sold his apartment buildings soon after completing them in order to finance the construction of new apartments.

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