Tags

The Capitol Hill District is significant as the oldest surviving residential area in Salt Lake City. Its streets and houses document over one hundred thirty years of residential construction and neighborhood development.
The scale and irregularity of the streets and blocks are not typical of the rest of Salt Lake, either today or in the past. Rather they were a product of the steep hillside which made the area unattractive for redevelopment and ensured its survival. The District preserves a representative cross section of the City’s arid the State’s architectural .and historical resources, ranging from the high style mansions of Arsenal Hill to the tightly packed workmen’s cottages of Reed Street. The buildings and patterns of neighborhood life on the Hill are representative of other early neighborhoods of the City now broken or vanished.

Related:

During the initial period of settlement, roughly 1850 to 1880, traditional
vernacular/folk architectural designs predominated in the Marmalade
district of Capitol Hill. House plans conformed to the rigid geometric categories found in most parts of the United States during the middle years of the 19th Century. The square cabin type (Richard Collett, 328 Almond St, c. 1875); Alonzo Raleigh, main brick section, 640 Wall St., c. 1860; and John
Makauna , 249 Reed St., c. 1885) represented the basic building unit for early Utah builders. Placing two, square rooms side by side yielded the “double pen” type (Henry Arnold, main stone section, 640 Wall St., c. 1860; Daniel Cross, 467 Center St., c. 1865; William Southam, 540 West Capitol St,, c. 1880) A center passage inserted between the two square rooms characterized the “central hall” type (Ebenezer Beesley, 80 W. 300 N., c. 1860; Ricbard V. Morris, 314 Quince St., c, 1865; John Irvine, 521 Center St, c. 1880). The “hall and parlor” house, a larger rectangular plan internally divided into two rooms of unequal size, was another popular house plan (Anders W. Winberg, 560 N. 200 W., c. 1855; John Platts, 364 Quince St., c. 1860). Stylistically, these early homes reflected the controlled symmetry of the Federal and Greek Revival periods. By the early 1870s and 1880s however, the Gothic Revival was emerging as an important influence in Utah architecture and several of the Marmalade houses are fine local renderings of this important style (August Carlson, 378 Quince St., c. 1872; Swen J. Jonasson, 390 Center St., c. 1872; Thomas Quayle, 355 Quince St., c. 1881).

Capitol Hill Significant Sites
(Address, Original Owner, Construction Date)

Intrusions

The advance party of Mormon settlers arrived in Salt Lake Valley on July
24, 1847. The following day Great Salt Lake City was platted. In accordance
with Joseph Smith’s precepts for the City of Zion, many of the Twelve
Apostles chose their inheritances to be shared among their family, friends,
and followers. Land north and west of Temple Square fell to Heber C.
Kimball, First Counselor to President Brigham Young. This land rose in a
gentle slope to the north, leveled in a beach terrace left by receding
ancient seas, and then rose more sharply to a rounded summit later named
Ensign Peak. To the west the hillside fell away sharply along a major fault
line. To the east, City Creek cut a steep canyon through the bench. The
remaining peninsula of high ground pushed out from the hills toward Temple Square. In 1888 the City government set aside twenty acres on the broad, level top of the hill for the capitol to be built when Utah should become a state.

In the first decades of settlement, the water of City Creek supplied the
center of the city with culinary and irrigation water and powered a string of mills that sprawled down the canyon and followed the creek to the west around the south slope of the Hill. Above the mills, close to Temple Square and the city center and looking southwest across the valley to the Oquirrh Mountains, rose the houses of the Kimball family and their friends. From midway up the slope the hill was bare, pocked with gravel pits. At a distance stood the City powder magazine and arsenal which gave its name to the south slope, Arsenal Hill. Farther north the City Wall ran from the hot springs baths diagonally to the southeast, crossed the open top of the Hill, plunged into City Creek Canyon, mounted the other side and continued to the east. Begun in 1853, the rock and adobe wall served more as a public works project than as a practical defense. The wall soon fell into disrepair and eventually disappeared entirely, its location remembered in the diagonal line of Wall Street.

Citizens of the City of Zion were ideally to be farmer-craftsmen, each
family supplying many of its own needs in a walled city of small garden farms. Settlers preferred the soil of the flat valley floor. Its soil was richer than the land on the Hill, and more easily cultivated and watered by
ditches from the mouths of the “wet” canyons. The regular grid of the city
plats thrust tentatively onto the lower slopes of the Hill but then quickly
disappeared in gravel and brush. From the earliest years of settlement, however, settlers of more modest means were attracted to this less desirable land located within an easy walk of the center of the city. Most were emigrants from the British Isles and Scandinavia, their originally slender resources strained by the cost of the Atlantic passage. Like August Winberg, a blacksmith, (560 North 200 West, c. 1854-1855) or John Platts, a mason, (364 Quince Street, c. 1856), they were craftsmen who relied on their trades for their livelihood and often built their simple houses themselves.

Most of these early residents on the Hill probably managed by some
contrivance to supply enough water for small gardens as well as their household needs. John Platts is reported to have grown prize peaches on his high sloping lot. Brick and stone cisterns appear on fire insurance maps of the nineteenth century, small ponds appear in early photographs, wells are known to have existed on the lower slopes, and a few sections of irrigation ditches survive. The difficulty of bringing water to the hillside, however, was probably the single most important factor in confining early settlement to the lower margin of the Hill.

Water was probably first brought to the Hill by extending the system of
ditches and flumes that supplied the mills in City Creek Canyon. By the late
1880s City Creek had been tapped in three places by a system of cast iron
mains that brought the water to distributing reservoirs located on high
points around the city. One line served a cement-lined reservoir located
just north and east of the present Capitol Building. A second line, interconnected with the first, ran from a holding reservoir in the canyon down the east edge of the Hill and turned west on 300 North, then angled northwest and downhill along Center Street. Wooden stave pipe, some in use until the 1930s, distributed the water to users, many of whom must first have been served by public taps. The head of this gravity system was sufficient to supply all of Capitol Hill.

Dependable water accelerated the development of the upper slopes of the
Hill. When the area was finally platted in the 1860s, some of the wandering
lanes that crossed the face of the hill, such as Vine and Crooked Street
-later straightened and renamed Almond, were surveyed and recorded as city streets. In place of the north-south streets of the regular city plats were
diagonal streets that more or less paralleled the old City Wall. The eastwest
streets of the city grid, however, were uncompromisingly projected up
the slope, producing some “streets” that are still impassable. The eight-rod
streets laid out in the rest of the city, “wide enough to turn a team of
oxen,” were simply inconceivable on the hillside. The result was the west
slope’s most distinctive feature – the layout of its streets and blocks.
Streets of varying width and grade cross each other at unpredictable angles defining small blocks of varying shape and size. In the early 1880s the west
slope became a more fashionable place to live and the original street names
-Bird, Cross, Locust – were replaced uniformly with names of fruits. This
stylish scheme of names gave the area a name of its own, the Marmalade
District, or more usually simply the Marmalade.

In the 1880s and 1890s substantial mansions appeared at the corners of
blocks low on the south and west slopes of the Hill. John R. Park, (166
North State St., c. 1875, demolished), Charles P. Brooks, (204 N State St.,
1890), Robert N. Baskin, (200 N. State St., c. 1876, demolished), William S.
McCornick, (199 N. State St., c. 1886, demolished), and William A. Hooper,
(348 N.200 West, c. 1880?, demolished) placed their homes away from the
smells and dust of the city but within an easy walk or a pleasant drive and
with fine views of the valley. The comfortable houses of the upper middle
class – successful craftsmen and contractors, small manufacturers and
merchants, professional men and secondary officials of government and the Church – were more characteristic of the west slope of the Hill. Their homes appeared on the corners of blocks all over the Hill and clustered on the broader and more imposing diagonal streets, especially Quince and Center Streets. E. L. T. Harrison, an architect, (10 West 300 North, c. 1870),
Henry Arnold, businessman (640 Wall St., c. 1860 et seq.), James Watson,
stone contractor, (335 Quince, c. 1866), William J. Silver, ironmaster, (518
Center St., c. 1860 and 1897), and William Asper, lumberman and contractor, (325 Quince St., 1870’s), found sites on the Hill for the houses that expressed their success and substantial position in the community.

The middle and lower classes found lots between the corners, on the
narrower east-west streets, and occasionally behind the first rank of houses
and in the interiors of blocks. These clerks, (William Henry Perkes, 92
Apricot St., 1873), craftsmen, (William Southam, 540 West Capitol St., c.
1880), and factory workers built smaller, simpler homes. Laborers bought or rented small cottages like the tightly packed row that survives on Reed
Street at the north end of thd district. Tenements (136-146 W. 600 N. , James
J. Wyatt, c. 1885), and boarding houses (318 Center St., Engbert Olsen, 1873)
were less common. More commonly, even the poorest houses were occupied by their owners.

Residents of the Hill found their neighborhood conveniently close to the
varied activities of the city. They found work in the business district of
the central city and in a variety of manufacturing and retail establishments
such as the Z. C.M.I. Tannery, 244 W. 500 N. , Davis, Howe, § Co., hardware,
115-127 N. West Temple, the Utah Soap Manufacturing Co., 245 W. 500 N. , and Silver’s Iron Works, 149 W. North Temple – all located within a half hour’s walk of any part of the Hill. The University of Deseret, the L.D.S. Church University, the city’s only public high school, a private academy, the Keeley Institute for the Cure of Addiction, and the Keogh-Wright Hospital were all located within a few blocks of Capitol Hill. By the 1890s streetcar lines up 300 West and down the diagonal of Center Street tied the Hill even more closely to the city.

As the properties were repeatedly divided into smaller lots and the
population grew, small groceries, meat markets, and occasional general
merchandise stores appeared every few blocks to meet the needs of their
immediate neighborhood. The number of these small establishments peaked in the 1920s before the automobile made possible the re-centralization of retail sales. With the exception of the Z.C.M.I. Shoe Factory and the J. W. Summerhays Tannery, later operated by the United Order of the Nineteenth Ward, no manufacturing enterprises of any size or permanence took root in the district. Occasional family enterprises -a blacksmith shop or shops producing soap or sausage or paper boxes -appeared, but overall the Hill remained an area of modest houses and the stores and churches that met their needs.

The population of the Hill appears to have retained its predominantly
Mormon character longer than other central neighborhoods of the city. The
small, sometimes awkward hillside lots may have found buyers among the
continuing flow of new foreign converts of slender means more readily than among newcomers from “the States.” The latter were more likely to be
gentiles and of more substantial means. The original Nineteenth Ward of the L.D.S. Church stretched away to the Jordan River on the west and the Warm Springs on the north. As the city grew this original jurisdiction was
repeatedly subdivided into new wards so that the district at one time was
represented in four wards and contained three functioning ward chapels (19th Ward Chapel, 168 West 500 North, 1890-1892; 24th Ward Chapel, 700 North 200 West, 1906; Capitol Hill Ward Chapel, 400 North West Capitol, 1928-1929). But the Hill was most strongly associated with the Nineteenth Ward (168 West 500 North, 1892). There was no ready division between the residential neighborhood that spread down the west slope and the residential blocks to the west. A Pugsley from west of 300 West was as likley to sit on the ward building committee as an Asper from Quince Street. Three Hundred West had more shops but was essentially another residential street.

In the 1880s, however, the number of gentiles on the Hill began to
rise. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad shops were conveniently
close and many engineers and other railroad men chose the Marmalade and the blocks immediately to the West to settle their families. “Mining men” – engineers, managers, promoters, surveyors – initially almost invariably gentiles, chose houses on the Hill, apparently accepting the necessity for travel and frequent, prolonged absences. Men trained in the new trades -telegraph and telephone men and electricians such as Stephen D. Greenwood, telegraph lineman (642 Center St., 1909) – found the Hill attractive and within their means. The establishment of the Plymouth Congregational Church, (354 W. 400 N., c. 1893, demolished) reflects the new gentile presence. A modest amount of religious diversity was thereby added to the economic and social diversity that had characterized the Hill from the earliest days of settlement.

After 1900 residential construction was concentrated on the upper parts
of the west and south slopes of the hill. Unattractive when water and transportation were difficult, this land was never built upon or had been bought cheaply and built up with insubstantial houses that were razed for new construction. The Alfred McCune (200 N. State St., 1901) and Edward D.
Woodruff (95 E. 200 N, 1906) mansions replaced earlier construction on
Arsenal Hill where the John R. Park house yielded to three substantial houses in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The upper reaches of Arsenal Hill had remained bare since the explosion in 1876 of the forty tons of powder then stored there. Although the arsenal land was sold off by the city shortly after 1900, the top of the slope showed only scattered buildings as late as the 1930s.

The completion of the Capitol Building in 1916 and the planting of its
grounds made the crest of the hill an attractive residential area, however,
and new houses appeared to flank the Capitol on the south and west. The
present grounds incorporate additional land initially platted into residential streets upon which several houses were built and subsequently razed. The houses built by men such as George S. Ashton (404 Wall St., 1920), first Bishop of the Capitol Hill Ward (400 West Capitol, 1928-1929) and the contractor for the stone in the Capitol Building, appear modest because of the subsequent inflation of popular conceptions of the space necessary in a house. Indeed the social-economic status of many Hill residents will be underestimated unless this inflation is remembered.

Although residential construction in the upper areas of the Hill
remained active in the late 1920s and even recovered from the depression
slump in the late 1930s, prestigious house sites were no longer being sought
on the Hill. After World War II the aging housing stock on the Hill and the
exodus to the suburbs began to take their toll as they did on other central
residential neighborhoods. New construction of single family homes continued on the upper slopes of Arsenal Hill but in the Marmalade such new construction as occurred was two, three, and four unit rental housing of a plain, unornamented character. Conversion into rental units of single family houses, both smaller and larger, which had begun in the 1930 !s accelerated in the 1950s.

Much of the housing on the Hill slumped from modest to marginal and the
area acquired a questionable reputation. It housed a mixture of long-time
residents, low-income tenants, transients, and university students. The most
deteriorated sections were generally believed to harbor prostitutes and drug dealers. The restoration of Capitol Hill began in the 1960s with long-term residents determined to preserve their neighborhood, acquired impetus from the surge of interest in preservation, and was well underway by the time shortages of gasoline prompted a return to inner city neighborhoods. Many houses in the district are undergoing renovation or restoration. Some of the new construction of multiple-unit structures has been sympathetic, but the area is under increasing pressure from developments whose massing and scale would irreparably damage the character of Capitol Hill.