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Clift Building

Built 1919-1920, James L/ Chesebro.

Virtue Clift constructed this building in 1920 in honor of her late husband Francis D. Clift who was a merchant, mining entrepreneur, and real estate developer. The Clift Building originally housed the United Cigar Stores Company, the Shubach Optical Company, Western Union Telegraph, and the Kinema Theater. The theater continued operating here until 1968. The Clift Building is one of Salt Lake City’s largest terra-cotta faced buildings. The upper floor of this eclectic building is the most decorative. Look for protruding bay windows with Greek pediments at the corners and the bracketed cornice.

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Located at 10 West 300 South in Salt Lake.

Pleasing in scale, proportion, and style treatment, the Clift Building has been an integral part of Salt Lake City’s central business district since it’s construction in 1919. It displays the use of glazed terra cotta on a grand scale, to entirely face the primary facade of an eight story building. The Clift Building retains it’s original character and integrity except for some street level modifications.

The Clift Building was constructed in 1919 by Virtue Clift in honor of her late husband, Francis D. Clift. This was originally the site of the old Clift Hotel, a popular Salt Lake boarding house in the late 19th century.

The Clift family has a long history in the state of Utah. Francis Clift was a pioneer mining man and financier who came to Utah by ox team with the Walker Brothers, Henry Lawrence and John Clark, a former mayor of Salt Lake City. They arrived in the valley in 1851. Soon after arriving, Francis Clift opened the “Town Clock Store” a general merchandising store, at 154 South Main. He made eight trips across the plains by ox team hauling goods from St. Louis and other points in Missouri where he bought goods to supply this store. He was one of the first men in Utah to invest in mining. He early bought an interest in the Emma Mine in Big Cottonwood Canyon the first discovered and worked mine in Utah. With the profits from this venture, he invested in Salt Lake real estate. In addition to this property, he owned the building at 262 South Main, occupied for many years by the Boston Store, and the Gladstone Building at 117 South Main. Francis Clift was born in England December 7, 1832 and died in Halt Lake City December 21, 1913. Only his wife, Virtue Clift, survived him.

Virtue Butcher Clift was also born in England, March 10, 1838. Her family joined the LDS Church there and she came to the United States with her mother and two misters in 1849. She married Francis D. Clift in 1854 at the age of sixteen. At the time of his death, she inherited her husband’s large estate and proved herself a wise businesswoman in dealing with his affairs. She had the Clift House torn down and replaced with a new commercial office building bearing the same name.

Following her death in 1925, title to the building fell to the Clift Building Corporation, then to the Utah Oil Refining Co. in 1958 and the American Oil Co. in 1960. American Oil changed the name of the building to the American Oil Building. In 1971 American Oil sold the building to Elizabeth Simmons. Ilene J. Wagner of the Wagner Investment Co. is the current owner.

The first occupants of the Clift Building in 1920 were the United Cigar Stores Co., the Schuback Optical Co., Western Union Telegraph Co. and the Kinema Theater, By 1928, the Kinema, managed by William Cutts, had become the Rialto Theater, but otherwise, the four companies occupied the building for twenty years. The Rialto still operated as a theater in 1968, a near 50 year term of occupancy. Fernwood’s Candy Co. had their offices in this building from 1952-60, Western Union and United Cigar Stores from 1920 to 1956. The building is currently used, as it has been historically, as commercial office space.