The W. P. Fuller Paint Company Office and Warehouse, built in 1922, is significant under Criteria A and C. The building is historically significant for its association with the twentieth-century development of Salt Lake City’s west side railroad and industrial district. It is located in an area of Salt Lake City that was, in the early settlement period, a neighborhood of residences and small family farms. After the coming of the railroad in 1870, the area was the preferred location for large-scale industries that wanted to access the railroad and expand their manufacturing capacities. The Fuller building was a transitional building designed to accommodate both rail and truck traffic. The building is also architecturally significant under Criterion C as one of the first all concrete warehouses in the city. The design for the concrete frame and curtain wall construction probably originated at the national offices of the W. P. Fuller Company in San Francisco, but was executed by local contractors John F. and Henry E. Schraven. The formed concrete support columns were innovative engineering for Salt Lake City of the period, and modest Art Deco details were an early manifestation of the style, especially in such a utilitarian structure. The W. P. Fuller Paint Company Office and Warehouse is being nominated as part of the Salt Lake City Business District Multiple Resource Area context. After sitting mostly vacant for several years the building was rehabilitated in 2004 and is a contributing resource in one of Salt Lake’s historic west side neighborhoods.
Located at 404 West 400 South in Salt Lake.
As the political capital of the State of Utah and the social and economic center for the Intermountain West, Salt Lake City has been one of the nation’s major regional centers since its establishment in 1847. The discovery of valuable ores in the canyons near Salt Lake in the early 1860s and the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 secured the city’s place as a major center of mining, smelting and refining. As a result, the number of foundries in the city quadrupled by the turn of the nineteenth century. Most of these facilities were located along an industrial corridor along either side of the numerous rail lines between 300 West and 500 West.( Originally 400 West was known as 3rd or Third West. All numbered streets in the area were renumbered in 1972. The original numbering system was based on the zero-numbered “Temple” streets bordering Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. West Temple, an original zero street, was followed by 1st West, 2nd West, 3 West and so on. Similar numbering came from North Temple. Address numbers were based on the origin point at the intersection of South Temple and Main Street (East Temple). This resulted in some confusion between street numbers north and west of the origin, and numbers to the south and east. For example, the address of Fuller Paint building was 404 West 4th South, although it was located at the corner of 3rd West and 4th South. In 1972 North and West Temple streets were renumbered 100 North and 100 West. First West became 200 West, 2nd West became 300 West, etc. The older numbering system is found on all historic documents used in researching this nomination; however, within the nomination the streets and buildings are designated by their current addresses. ) The construction of the Rio Grande (passenger) Depot at 300 S. Rio Grande Street (350 West) in 1910, as well as nearby freight depots, was celebrated as an event and was another sign that the previously semi-rural neighborhood had become city’s railroad district, and center for industry and warehousing.
Block 47 of Salt Lake City’s Plat A was located just west Block 48, the site of Salt Lake’s first pioneer fort and today’s Pioneer Park. By the 1880s, two tracks of the Oregon Short Line Railroad ran down the center of 400 West. The east half of Block 47 was originally divided into residential lots, but the 1898 Sanborn map indicates an early industry, a coal storage plant with a rail spur, was in the area. By the time of the 1911 map three industries (a seed and produce company, a meat packing plant, and a lime-cement company) had built in the, middle of the block. Two rail spurs curved from the main line into the block to service the companies. There were still several dwellings and one store at the north and south ends of the block.
On August 24, 1921, W, P. Fuller & Co. purchased the property from the heirs of Henry Reiser. A building permit for the construction of a four-story warehouse at be built at a price of $100,000 was approved on May 3, 1922. No architect was listed.3 The builders were listed as John F. Schraven (1854-1939) and his son Henry E. Schraven (1879-1945). The Schraven family moved from Kentucky to Utah in 1902 and immediately began their father-son contracting business. Henry Schraven continued the firm after his father’s retirement in 1929. The firm built the Salt Lake library, the Model Laundry building, a number of public schools, and several projects for the Union Pacific Railroad. Construction probably took place that summer. The address is listed in the 1922 city directory for Salt Lake City.
William Parmer Fuller (1827-1890) was born in New Hampshire. He went to California in search of gold in 1849. Unfortunately, he was frustrated in his quest for gold and became a paperhanger in Sacramento. He partnered with a man named Seton Heather and the two made a fortune in the paint and glass industry. Fuller settled in the San Francisco area in 1862 where he founded a branch of Fuller and Heather. In 1877, when Fuller established a partnership with the Whittier Company, the firm built the largest plant on the Pacific Coast. The partnership dissolved in 1894, and the reorganized W. P. Fuller & Company began to realize plans to dominate the paint, oil and glass market in the Western United States. The company first expanded into other parts of California and then to the Pacific Northwest. The company established its first branch in the Intermountain West in Boise, Idaho in 1908.
In 1921-1922, Salt Lake City became the fifteenth branch and the eighth executive office for the Fuller Company. The building in Salt Lake City was designed as a regional office and distribution center. A separate retail store was established in the downtown business district. Prior to this time, the company had used hardware merchants and dealers for distribution. At the time of the construction of the building in Salt Lake City, I. F. Littlefield, assisted by William P. Fuller II, managed the company. The 1920s marked a period of change for the company: the proliferation of specialized retail stores and ownership of the land where offices and warehouses were located. The design of the building was probably generated by architects in the corporate office. There is a Fuller building with a similar design in Tacoma, Washington. The family and company had sustained heavy losses during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. This event may have made the reinforced concrete construction method particularly attractive for warehouse designers at the Fuller Company.
The W. P. Fuller Company was one of six paint manufacturers in Salt Lake City, most of which were local firms. As was customary at the time for many industries, W. P. Fuller had a retail store in downtown Salt Lake at 40 East 200 South (building demolished). The company sold paints, oils, glass, varnish, and greases. The office and warehouse was located at 404 W. 400 South, near the railroad tracks. A newspaper article from the Deseret News, dated December 2, 1922, described the recently completed building in detail. The reporter was particularly impressed by the 70,000 square feet of floor space, the 15,000-gallon water tank, and the Fuller roofing material. According to the article, the main floor was to be used for office space, shelving, storage, and for glass cutting. The main floor tower room was used for paint testing. At the rail platform, three rail cars could be unloaded (or loaded) simultaneously. The truck landing could service four trucks at a time with a garage room for the company’s rolling equipment. The mezzanine was used for storing brushes, bronze powders, tools, etc. The second floor was devoted to the paints, varnishes, and enamels. The top floor was where the glass was stored. The offices took up only a small portion of the warehouse floor. The office was the only part of the building heated.
Art B. Cadman, the manager at the time, was quoted in the article was the manager in the 1920s, describing the company’s new facilities: “W. P. Fuller & Company stated in 1849 and has been reaching out for larger territory ever since. This is now the most easterly branch and one of the largest, as well as embodying all the latest innovations that experience has found necessary.” Cadman stated that the Salt Lake branch had “by far the largest territory to serve in regard to distance covered of any of the Fuller branches” and that the “payroll will probably include 75 men and woman all of whom are Utahns.” The author of the article declared, “It should be a matter of pride to Salt Lake that it is classes as one of the biggest branches of this great [Fuller] organization.”
By the 1930s, rail activity in the area had decreased, but a 1937 tax photograph of the south elevation shows the truck docks in use. In 1941, the seamed metal and frame addition was built on the west elevation. It was used as a glass warehouse. A lunch stand was built on the southwest corner of the property in 1949. There was also a service station in the yard. In the early 1950s, the interior was substantially remodeled. Historic photographs
taken in 1951 by the Shipler photographers of Salt Lake City indicate the offices were expanded and modernized on the second floor and mezzanine levels. The exterior was probably painted at the same time. The large corrugated metal shed was added to the property in 1951. By the 1950s, the company had moved their retail store to 211 South State Street. A full-page advertisement in the 1951 Salt Lake directory read “W P. Fuller & Co. for Paint – Glass – Wallpaper; Manufacturers of Paints for Farm, Home, Industry; Complete Glass and Installation Service.”
The W. P. Fuller Paint Company building was in use by the Fuller Company until 1965 when it was sold to the Nielson Investment Company. The office and warehouse was used as rental space for a variety of businesses. The 1969 Sanborn map shows the building divided for use by an auto repair shop, a sign painting company, and a school supplies warehouse. The metal shed housed three enterprises: a tire warehouse, a furniture warehouse
and a garage. Between 1986 and 2003, the property changed hands five times. The Snarr Advertising Company was a long-time tenant. The owners mostly leased the space for light manufacturing and storage; for example, trucking, distribution, and the manufacture of fireplace equipment. On at least two occasions, in 1,998 and 1999, proposed plans for the adaptive reuse of the building were never realized. Big-D Construction Company purchased the building in November 2003. The company converted the building into its corporate offices in 2004 as part of a federal tax credit rehabilitation project.