Located at 533 11th Avenue in the Avenues in Salt Lake City, the Nelson/Beesley house is significant as the largest and best example of the Swiss Bungalow style in the Salt Lake City Avenues neighborhood and among the best in the State of Utah. Characteristics of this style romantically recall alpine chalets, and the Beesley home alludes to Swiss prototypes in its
rectangular plan, broad gable roof, height and general symmetry, and
decorative detailing. The residence served as the home of the Alvin A. Beesley family for twenty-two years. Beesley was a prominent figure in Salt Lake City business, cultural, civic and religious activities for nearly half a century. His association with the Beesley Music Company, represents the efforts of the Beesley family to promote Mormon musical values in the community.
The nomination of this residence is based upon an extensive survey of the Salt Lake City Avenues neighborhood. The Nelson/Beesley house, located in the upper Avenues, was not included in the Avenues Historic District, but was judged a significant site within the survey area based upon its architecture and historical associations.
Joseph Nelson, president and manager of Joseph Nelson Supply Company, plumbing suppliers,,had this residence built in 1918 by Thomas Child and Son, Mason contractors. As listed in the Salt Lake City building permits, the two-story fourteen room house cost an estimated $15,000.
The Swiss Bungalow style was a romantic adaptation of the Alpine chalet, and represented one of a number of variations on the early twentieth century bungalow style. The Beesley house retains the integrity of the style in its plan, roof design, and general massing.
Joseph Nelson, the original owner, had lived at 568 I Street, also in the
Avenues neighborhood, prior to his move to 533 11th Avenue- In 1926 Alvin
and Ruby Pratt Beesley were listed in directories as residing at 533 11th
Avenue, and purchased the home in 1927 from Nelson. Their tenure in the
residence dated from 1926 to 1948, the year of Ruby Beesley’s death (Alvin had died in 1940).
Alvin A. Beesley, born in Salt Lake City in 1873, was the son of Ebenezer and
Sarah Hancock Beesley. Ebenezer founded the Beesley Music Company in 1904, and both the man and the firm are considered pioneers in the Salt Lake City music field. The elder Beesley directed the Mormon Tabernacle choir from 1870 to 1885, and composed a large number of Mormon hymns. Alvin studied music under his father, as well as H.S. Kraure and C.F. Staynes; and in about 1906 became president and manager of the company. The Beesley name remains synonymous with the promotion of music and musical values, qualities important to the Mormon community. The business still functions under ownership of the Beesley family.
The activities and interests of Alvin Beesley proved influential in Salt Lake
City’s business, civic, and religious activity. In addition to his involvement with the music business, Beesley assumed the directorship and a seat on the executive board of the Hotel Utah (National Register), which opened for business in 1911. He also became an organizer, three-time president, and director for various years, of the Salt Lake local American Federation of Musicians, thus, involved in both business and labor. Alvin Beesley served as a delegate to national musician’s conventions, and befriended Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor.
From 1933 to 1935 he served as a Salt Lake County Commissioner, heading the finance department. A member and activist of several civic groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, Rotarians, and Boy Scouts,. Beesley served in numerous religious positions for the Mormon church, particularly as chorister of the Salt Lake Stake from 1904 to 1930.
Alvin and Ruby Pratt Beesley resided in the house until their deaths. Mrs.
Beesley was the daughter of Mormon pioneer Orson Pratt, and married Alvin in She died in 1948, following Alvin’s death in 1940.
Joseph Nelson House
Built in 1918 by Joseph Nelson, an early day plumbing contractor. The Joseph Nelson house is architecturally significant as one of the best examples in Utah of the Swiss Bungalow style. Situated in the Avenues neighborhood, this house recalls an Alpine Chalet with decorative detailing. For many years it was owned by members of the Alvin A. Beesley family who were associated with the Beesley Music Company. In 1957 the house became the residence of W.E. Hess, M.D. and family.