Located at 211 N State Street in Mt Pleasant, Utah (209 North on the National Register), the James Staker home is a fine example of folk/vernacular building in the Sanpete Valley. The central passageway type house was built rather sparingly in the early period of local settlement (1850-1870) but became increasingly popular in the area through the late 1870s and early 1880s. The Staker house, while quite elegant in its own right, was typical of the homes that the more affluent members of the community were building during the later pioneer period. In the context of the vernacular architectural style, the Staker house assumes a position near the top of the economic spectrum and illustrates well the building needs of a particular segment of Mt. Pleasant’s 19th century population.
James Staker was born in Pleasant Grove, Utah in 1858, the son of Nathan and Elizabeth Staker. Nathan was an early (1837) Canadian convert to the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who migrated westward to Utah in 1853. The Stakers moved in 1859 to Mt. Pleasant where young James was
educated and raised a farmer. In 1880 James married and in 1881 purchased a building lot from his father for $200. The large brick home was probably built in the early 1880s as James established his family and farming business. In 1892 Staker organised the Planning Mill Company of Hansen, Staker, and Johnson to “manufacture rustic, ceiling, flooring, mouldings, with scroll sawings and turning.” The Staker house remained in the Staker family until the early 1960s when it was acquired by its current owner, Ms. Genevieve Coe Carroll.
The central passageway type vernacular house results from the 18th century marriage of an older two-room wide, one room deep traditional hall and parlor house with the Georgian stylistic preference for an internal entrance hall. The resulting house, two rooms and a hallway wide and one room deep, was distributed widely throughout the eastern united states and quite naturally moved to Utah in 1847. As a building type, it is found in all Utah communities though not in the quantities which some scholars have previously thought. In Sanpete, the central passage entrance hall was found during the early years of settlement only in the homes of the most wealthy and influential individuals. Its frequency increased into the 1870s and by the 1880s most of the larger brick homes – like the James Staker home – were equipped with the entrance hall.