The Larsen-Noyes home is one of the finest remaining Victorian homes in Sanpete County (which is more usually associated with its limestone pioneer vernacular homes); its architectural significance is a reflection of the historic importance of its owners in the cultural and educational life of the county.
The builder and architect of the Larsen/Noyes home was Albert Johnson, a
Norwegian immigrant who arrived in Ephraim, Sanpete County, Utah, in 1880. After serving out an apprenticeship under another Norwegian immigrant, Johnson quickly established himself as a leading builder and supplier of construction materials in the Scandinavian communities throughout the Sanpete County.
In 1897 Johnson received a commission to build a fine and substantial home for one of the county’s leading entrepreneurs, H. P. Larsen. This fellow immigrant had been born in Horbelov on the Danish island of Falster. His career since taking up residence in Ephraim had followed a pattern similar to that of many Scandinavians. After following the trade of carpenter for several years, Larsen first sought to improve his social and material circumstances as a teacher of the violin. While successful in this work, his real contribution to his community came in his capacity as leader of the city orchestra. The vigorous and growing Scandinavian town of Ephraim, as with many other Mormon communities, offered cultural advantages and opportunities not generally found in pioneer settlements in the American West. Larsen’s orchestra performed for church and civic functions, for many years.
However, the orchestra did not offer the kind of financial security that an
enterprising young man like Larsen needed, and he began studying pharmacy. At the completion of his studies in 1887, Larsen opted to open one of the “drug stores” then becoming fashionable throughout the nation. It was Ephraim’s first, and extremely successful. It carried “drugs, medicines, chemicals, toilet articles, paints, oils, groceries, hardware,” and was “doing a very successful business” when Larsen decided that he needed a residence to match his new social status. Especially since Larsen’s work as an active Democrat had enabled him to operate his drugstore in conjunction with the post office business following his appointment as postmaster in 1887.
However, Larsen lived in his new home only three years before selling it to
Newton Eugene Noyes, the president of the Sanpete Stake Academy. Noyes had cone to Ephraim in 1892 from a teaching position at Latter-day Saints University in Salt Lake City. The Sanpete Stake Academy was one of a number of postgraduate school institutions created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1880’s and 90’s. Their principal purpose had been to counter the success of the mission schools of various Protestant missionary groups. The Stake Academies (stakes are an ecclesiastical unit of the Mormon Church, akin to a diocese and taken from biblical imagery of the nation of Israel as a tent staked in place) were intended to provide that step beyond village common schools that would prepare Mormondom’s professional and intellectual elite. The Sanpete Stake Academy’s name was eventually changed to Snow College, and passed into control of the state higher education system during the depression years.
Noyes served as President of the Sanpete Stake Academy/Snow College for 29 years of growth and development. Under his leadership the college established a respectable academic reputation and grew in importance as a community educational and cultural asset. Noyes mixed several leadership roles of Church and state, making contributions to city government and holding many important positions within the Church in Sanpete County. During one of the several periods when Sanpete County was trying desperately to broaden its economic base during the early years of this century, Noyes contributed his administrative skills as secretary of the Sanpete Canning Crops Association.
The importance of the Larsen/Noyes home lies in its reflection of the importance of middle class business and professional men to the building up of this small immigrant community, as well as being a general comment on the values of an age of entrepreneurial development in small town America at the turn of the century. It speaks of the energy, enterprise, and of the material rewards sought after and enjoyed by a community’s most vigorous spirits.
Located at 96 E Center St in Ephraim, Utah.