Constructed c. 1876, the George Bonner, Sr., House is one of seven houses contained in the Architecture of John Watkins Thematic Resource Nomination, having been designed and built by John Watkins, an accomplished early Utah
builder. John Watkins’ work effectively illustrates the dynamic role the professional builder played in shaping Utah’s early architectural landscape. While it has been customary for historians to explain Utah architecture from the time of first settlement in 1847 up to about 1890 as the simple extension of eastern folk styles or the replication of popular pattern-book designs, John Watkins’ houses suggest a more generous appraisal. Slave to neither tradition nor pattern-book, Watkins found useful ideas in both, ideas that formed the basis of essentially new if nevertheless familiar designs. From two-room cottages to elaborate Gothic Revival houses to houses intended for multi-family polygamous living, Watkins drew upon his broad building experience to create not copies of other houses, but new ones designed to meet his client’s functional, aesthetic, and symbolic needs. This house is significant not only as an important example of the Gothic Revival style in early Utah, but also because it demonstrates Watkins’ ability to deftly manipulate basic picturesque design concepts. Drawing upon a set of ideas embodied in the basic cross-wing house form, Watkins was able to generate a rich variety of housing designs.
John Watkins was born in Maidsone, Kent, England in 1834. He received training in the building trade in his native England before joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emigrating to Utah in 1855. Watkins’
skills were welcomed in the nascent Mormon towns of, first, Provo, and then Midway. In Provo, Watkins helped build the original LDS Tabernacle (1856).
George’s sons homes are across the street:
Located at 103 East Main Street in Midway, Utah
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