The Salt Lake Northwest Historic District, one of Salt Lake City’s historic districts.

The Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District is a 28-square-block (280-acre) residential neighborhood developed between the 1850s and the 1950s. The roughly rectangular-shaped district includes 1,489 buildings, of which 1150 (77 percent) contribute to the historic character of the neighborhood. There are 339 (23 per cent) total noncontributing buildings. Of the 248 non-contributing primary buildings, 129 are altered historic buildings and 119 are considered out-of-period [See summary statistics at the end of Section 7]. Ninety percent of the contributing buildings are single-family dwellings dating from the mid-1850s to 1950. Six percent of contributing buildings are duplexes, mostly built between the 1890s and 1950. The housing stock also includes several apartment buildings and residential courts. Approximately half of the contributing commercial buildings are found along North Temple. The others are small commercial blocks (often combined with residential space) scattered throughout the neighborhood. Also included among the contributing buildings are four religious facilities and one former library. The district lies just a few blocks north and west of Salt Lake City’s downtown, and is separated from the central business district by several railroad lines near the eastern boundary of 500 West. At the western boundary is the Utah State Fairpark. The district’s north and south boundaries are two major thoroughfares, 600 North and North Temple. (more at https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/0e98faff-c5a2-4f61-8292-8aec7888f367 )

Single Family Dwellings: Early Settlement Period. 1850s-1879

There are 742 contributing single-family dwellings located within the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District, only eleven of which have been identified as having been built before 1879. However, historical documents suggest the actual number is much higher. Unfortunately additions, alterations, and the general lack of documentation makes it difficult to come up with an exact number. The eleven also include the district’s two properties previously listed on the National Register: the Nelson Wheeler Whipple House at 564 West 400 North (built in 1854 and listed in 1979), and the Thomas and Mary Hepworth House at 725 West 200 North (built in 1877 and listed on April 21, 2000).

The Whipple and Hepworth houses represent the higher end architecture of the settlement period. The typical small home is represented by the example at 126 North 800 West. Built circa 1870, this house is a 540-square foot hall-parlor with a frame addition. It is constructed of adobe brick covered with stucco on a stone foundation. A more unique example is what appears to be an unfinished Georgian-influenced single-cell house, at 423 North 600 West, probably built in 1868. This unusual house has a number of turn-of-the-century additions, however the main portion is adobe. Only a handful of early frame houses are extant in the neighborhood, and most have been substantially altered. No log dwellings were identified in the reconnaissance-level survey of the area, however it is possible existing log structures may have been incorporated into later additions and covered by a veneer. Most settlement-era homes have little stylistic detail other than classical symmetry. The most common house type from the era is the hall-parlor. Other types are represented by only one or two examples.

Single-family Dwellings: Victorian Urbanization. 1880-1910

Houses representing the types and styles of the Victorian era comprise 39 percent of the number of single-family dwellings, the largest percentage of associated housing stock in the district. These houses are found throughout the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District as distinct architectural entities, in tracts of two or three, and occasionally in a residential court setting. Stylistically, a small percentage of these homes demonstrate the transition from earlier houses and possess Classical, Greek Revival or Italianate features. Examples range from early hall-parlors with added wings to late Victorians with Queen Anne-style towers. One interesting example of a transitional house spanning several decades is located at 344-346 North 600 West. This two-story house built in several phases between 1882 and 1954 has walls of adobe, stucco, brick, and frame. The stylistic elements of the house include Greek Revival cornice returns, Victorian details on the octagonal north wing, and Period Revival porch enclosures.

Single-family Dwellings: Early Twentieth Century. 1910-1939

The dominant architectural style of the early twentieth century was the Bungalow. Nineteen percent of contributing single-family houses in the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District are Bungalows in type and style. The Bungalow was intended to be a comfortable, sheltering, low profile house. While early Bungalows like the one at 578 North Dexter Street were built contemporaneously with Victorian houses, by 1915 the Bungalow had become the everyman’s house replacing the earlier Victorian cottages. Most of the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District’s Bungalows are modest homes (as are Utah bungalows in general) with little decorative detail, however several in the district are distinctive. The Langton Park Bungalows built in 1918 are a combination of Arts & Crafts and the California styles. Brick Bungalows at 575 West 200 North and 251 North 700 West have a hint of Prairie School influence. A row of brick Bungalows, also from 1924, on 500 North, includes one at 1043 West 500 North with a distinctive porte-cochere. The description of Bungalow as a type, as well as a style, fits most of the Bungalows in the district. The houses usually have the narrow end to the street with a variety of roof styles (simple gable, hipped, and clipped gable), and a full or half-width porch. The few Foursquare houses in the district are modest in size with bungalow influence and are not similar to the traditional two-story, upscale Foursquares found in other parts of Salt Lake City. The most popular material for Bungalows was brick, with wood and stucco used for decoration. Frame Bungalows are also found throughout the district, though many have been altered. Stone was used as a foundation material in early Bungalows, however after 1915, concrete was used increasingly. During the Bungalow period, the use of concrete — as well as better drainage — increased the occurrence of fully excavated basements. The Bungalow period also has examples of new materials such as striated brick and concrete block. There is even one brick Bungalow with a volcanic rock veneer on its lower half.

After World War I, the Bungalow remained popular, but the Period Revival movement favored by veterans who had served in Europe was evident in the architecture of the 1920s in Utah. Several Bungalows, built in 1926, along 1000 West near 400 North show some period revival details. Within the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District, construction of residences slowed considerably between the late 1920s and the start of World War II. Period revival cottages account for only three percent of houses in the area, a percentage much lower than contemporaneous neighborhoods on Salt Lake City’s east side. Among them are modest English period cottages like the one at 878 West 500 North, built in 1929, and four found on Chicago Street, built between 1928 and 1929.

Single-family Dwellings: World War II and Post-World War II Era. 1940-1950

Twenty-nine percent of single-family dwellings in the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District were built during the 1940s. Surprisingly, a number of homes in the district were built in the early 1940s, although access to materials and labor was severely restricted. Two examples from 1941 represent the World War II Era. The house at 843 West 500 North is one of nine houses (some brick, some frame) built on the block, and typifies the minimal traditional house developed by Federal Housing Administration to promote home ownership during the depression. The “minimal traditional” elements of 863 West 500 North are evident in its modest 865 square-foot (two-bedroom) footprint, and limited decorative brick details. A more unique example is found at 460 North Chicago Street, another small square, brick masonry house with corner metal casement windows giving it a more Modern appearance.

Multiple-family Dwellings: Duplexes (Double Houses) & Apartment Buildings

Six percent of residences within the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District are duplexes (also known historically as double houses), with another one percent being historic apartment buildings. Approximately half of the duplexes were built between 1890 and 1910, and are found both along the main streets and in residential courts between 500 and 800 West. Stylistically, these early duplexes come in two varieties: the urban model with a flat-roof and decorative brick parapets; and the more domestic-looking, hipped or gable roof structure. Despite being rental units (or perhaps because they are rentals), these duplexes have survived relatively intact with only minor changes, such as the replacement of the classical porch columns with wrought iron. Brick masonry was used for most of these buildings, however there are a few frame examples such as the duplexes at Tuttle Court. The remaining half of the duplexes date from the Bungalow era or the post-World War II period, and with few exceptions, are found in the western half of the district. Many, especially later, duplexes are found on corner lots as part of rental buffers for subdivision development. A few are frame-sided or stucco Bungalows, including one Langton Park triplex, but most are brick structures from the late 1940s.

There are six historic apartment blocks in the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District. All are small with only four to six units, not big enough to be classified as walk-ups. The oldest is the four-unit block at 540 North 600 West, built in 1897 and later converted to commercial use. This building features decorative brickwork on the parapet and originally had a full-width porch and balcony. Not far from this building stand the most recent historic apartments, twin six-unit blocks at 545 and 555 West 500 North, built fifty-years later in 1947. The two-story Boyer Apartments, as they were known, were constructed of brick with pyramidal roofs and minimal traditional detailing.

Commercial Buildings

Ironically, nearly one-third of contributing commercial buildings identified in the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District historically combined residential space with commercial use. An interesting example is located at 613 West 200 North where a 1910 frame shop was built in front of and connected to an 1871 adobe hall-parlor. In contrast, at 776 West North Temple, the commercial block came first in 1888, followed by the six-room residence, in 1895, both with elaborate brick work. In other cases, the residence space is less obvious. The 1905 commercial block at 246 North 600 West was built in front of an 1880 house. Also built in 1905, the brick commercial building at 730 West 400 North was built with a second-floor family flat incorporated in the original design.

One of the most significant and prominent commercial buildings is the Horsley Building located at 606 West North Temple and constructed in 1912. The Horsley Building resembles a small hotel court in the commercial style with retail space on the main floor and sixteen apartments on the second. Among the non-residential commercial buildings is the former LDS Church 22nd Ward Cooperative Store at 480 West 500 North. The remainder of historic commercial buildings represents a miscellaneous mix of period and style. Two of the more significant examples are the auto garages built at 319 North 800 West in 1928, and the Romney Motor Lodge, built in the 1940s, one of the few remaining historic motel courts left in Salt Lake City.

Institutional Buildings

While the contributing institutional buildings in the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District are few in number (five), they present an architecturally impressive group of historic resources. Four are ecclesiastical buildings originally associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church or Mormon Church), and one is a former Salt Lake City branch library. The oldest is the 28th Ward Meetinghouse built in 1902 and located at 750 West 400 North. The building is constructed of brick on a stone foundation in the Gothic Revival style. In 1914, the building was enlarged to the rear with an unusual semi-circular addition that included an auditorium, amusement hall, and classrooms. Though no longer used as a church, the building retains a high degree of historic integrity.

The 34th Ward Meetinghouse at 131 North 900 West, built in 1921, is a brick Neo-Classical structure on a raised basement. The temple-front façade features six massive Doric columns supporting a pediment. This building has been modified somewhat over the years but still retains its historic character. The south wing of the 16th Ward Meetinghouse was built on the site of an earlier chapel destroyed by fire at 129 North 600 West. The new chapel, constructed between 1929 and 1930, is based on a standard meetinghouse design nicknamed the “Colonel’s Twins” because of the two projecting wings, one for the chapel and one for the amusement hall. The 16th Ward building is a brick structure and incorporates Colonial Revival motifs such as keystone, round arches, and cornice returns. This building, used for many years as a Catholic community center, and currently a residence, is in excellent condition.

The Riverside Stake Center, the only meetinghouse within the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District still used by the LDS Church, is located on the west side at 947 West 200 North. Constructed in 1952-1953, this building is an early example of postwar modernism institutional architecture in Utah. The building is constructed of brick, stone veneer, and cast concrete. The main entrance is recessed under a swooping canopy. The building is in excellent condition and has had only minor alterations.

One of the most historically significant buildings is the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church located at 731 West 300 North. However the building is non-contributing because a 1972 expansion has obscured the original chapel relocated to the area from an army base in Kearns in 1947. Another significant building is the former Spencer Branch Library, located 776 West 200 North, was built in 1921. The library is T-shaped in plan and is constructed of striated brick. The broadside faces the street with a symmetrical façade. Classical and Colonial Revival details are found in the concrete keystone and end stones of the round relieving arches, and in the Tuscan columns supporting a rounded pediment at the main entrance. The building is currently owned and maintained by the Free Church of Tonga and has seen little exterior alteration.

Outbuildings

Though the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District retains a semi-rural feel, the hundreds of coops and sheds once found in the rear of nearly every property have all but disappeared. With the possible exception of the circa 1880s stone granary in the rear of 165 North 900 West, extant outbuildings in the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District are not individually significant. Garages, which began appearing in the district in the late 1910s, make up the vast majority of the 461 contributing outbuildings identified in the 1991 reconnaissance level survey of the area. These garages are mostly single-car, simple-gable frame structures that face the street. The alleys platted by the turn-of-the-century subdivisions appear to have been vacated early (most in the first half of the century) and few garages were accessed from the alleys.

The History of the Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District

Early Settlement Period. 1847-1869

On July 24, 1847, a small contingent of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) entered the Salt Lake Valley under the direction of Brigham Young. On August 2, 1847, a little more than a week later, Orson Pratt and Henry G. Sherwood began to survey what was then known as the City of Great Salt Lake. In less than a month, the survey of Plat A, consisting of 135 blocks, was completed. The land was divided into ten-acre blocks, each containing eight lots of one and one-quarter acres. Streets were 132 feet wide. Only one house could be constructed on each lot with a standard setback of twenty feet from the front of the property. The rear of the property was to be used for gardens and outbuildings. Farmland was provided in the outlying areas. Forty acres were set aside for the temple, and four other blocks were for public grounds to be laid out in various parts of the city. After the church officials selected lots for their personal use, the remainder of the land was divided by casting lots. Scarce resources such as timber and water were to be held in common with no private ownership. Within two years, the population of Salt Lake City had grown to 6,000. Plat B was laid out in sixty-three blocks to the east in 1848, and in 1849, the eighty-four blocks of Plat C were surveyed on the west side. The Salt Lake City Northwest Historic District consists of five blocks along the western edge of Plat A and twenty-three blocks of Plat C.

In February of 1849, the city was divided into nineteen wards of the LDS Church and a bishop was selected to preside over each ward. The northwest portion of the city was within the boundaries of the 16th ward (South Temple to 300 North, and 300 West to the Jordan River) and the 19th ward (a triangle-shaped area 300 North to Beck’s Hot Springs [800 North], and 300 West [base of the foothills] to the Jordan River). Though lots were allocated and the basic governing (church) hierarchy in place, early settlement proceeded slowly. Most of the earliest settlers spent their first few winters in crude log cabins, tents, or in wagon beds, in or near the fort (present day Pioneer Park at 300 South and 300 West). A few houses were built in the 16th Ward in 1848, but the church’s official historian was “unable to find out positively whether any of the pioneers of Utah built houses or resided in the Nineteenth Ward prior to 1849, although it is possible that one of two families became settlers in 1848.” By 1850 a number of settlers had moved to their lots and begun building permanent homes. Some of the houses may have been log (newly hewn or relocated from the fort site), but most were built of adobe (or mud-dried bricks). An adobe pit was first established near the fort site in order to provide bricks for the fort wall, and later brick was available for home building.

The majority of these houses were single-story, one or two-room (single cell and hall-parlor) dwellings, which were plastered as soon as the owner had the resources. The Nelson Wheeler Whipple House, an eight room, two-story house built in 1854, was one of the few exceptions. Whipple, who immigrated to Utah in 1850, had various occupations (policeman, gunsmith, carpenter, cabinet maker and superintendent of the Municipal Bath House), but is best known for his lumber business and shingle mill. The house at 564 West 400 North (within the 19th Ward boundaries) was home to his entire family: himself, three wives and seventeen children. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.