Business on the Block

Sugar House attracted businessmen who dreamed of building a “City within a City,” successful enough to compete with downtown Salt Lake City. Family businesses flourished here, and Sugar House became famous for selling furniture, ice, coal, and lumber. The following names represent some of the great men who helped Sugar House grow. Although some of the businesses are gone, their legacy lives on in the historic buildings and commercial vitality of the Sugar House Business District.

Willard B. Richards, one of the founders of Sugar House, was a contractor, builder, and important community leader. His son, Willard B. Richards, Jr., founded the Granite Furniture Company in 1910 which helped establish Sugar House as the “Furniture Capitol of the West” for many years.

J. Roy Free, Nephi Hansen, Sam Hill, and Huron Free created the Hygeia Ice Company which included the nation’s largest cold storage locker facility and provided 700 ice deliveries each day. Roy’s son, Ray Free, continued the tradition of community service as a state representative, president of the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce, and a founder of the new Sugar House Park.

George A. Dixon was born in Parley’s Canyon and worked in a sawmill in Lambs Canyon as a youth. In 1903 he joined Granite Lumber Company as a bookkeeper before starting his own business, Hyland Lumber and Hardware Company in 1926. He organized several investment companies which helped hundreds of people finance and build houses. During the Depression, Dixon waived mortgage payments so people could keep their homes. George Dixon was one of the businessmen responsible for providing land for the original Sugar House Park.

In 1911 Alexander R. Curtis operated the Hyland Coal and Feed Company in a yard on 2100 South at the east end of the old sugar mill. Wagons delivered coal to homes and businesses, where it was stored in a bin and shoveled into the furnace for heating. Curtis and his sons later established the Curtis Coal Company on Highland Drive, where they eventually built a large shopping center for Sugar House.

This historic marker is located in Hidden Hollow.