The William H. Culmer home was built in 1881. William and his brothers, George and Henry, immigrated with their parents from England to America in 1867. A year later they arrived in Utah. While still a boy in England, William became good friends with Charles Dickens. In the last years of his life, William Culmer wrote an account of his life as “one of the Dickens Boys.” This account was published in 1970 under the title Billy the Cartwheeler.
In Utah, the Culmer brothers organized their own firm, G.F, Culmer
and Brothers, and were successful in several areas: Wholesale and retail
distribution of paints, oils, varnishes, window and art glass, manufacturers of mirrors and show cases; workers in art and stained glass, and
manufacturers of galvanized iron work. In addition, they were officers
and managers of the Wasatch Asphaltum Company which paved many of Salt Lake City’s streets; The Wasatch Marble Quarries, The Mountain Stone
Quarries, and The Kyune Sandstone Quarry which produced the stone for
several of Utah’s important historic sites including the Salt Lake City and County Building, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and the First Church
of Christ Scientist building in Salt Lake City.
William Culmer died in 1939 at the age of 87. During the period of much of Utah’s industrial development, he and his brothers played an important part.
Despite the importance of William Culmer the significance of his home is that it is a prime example of Victorian architecture and, most important, the art work inside the home was executed by his nationally known brother Henry Culmer.
Henry Culmer found the painting of Seccos and stencil work to be a relaxing weekend pastime.
The Culmer Home also represents a distinct period in Utah history. Built in 1881, it represents an intermediate period of luxury home construction. It was built between the earlier Bee-Hive House and Devereaux House, built by the ecclesiastical and economic leaders of the Mormon community, and the later period of mining magnate mansions at the turn of the century built primarily by non Mormons.
Though somewhat more modest than either the early Mormon mansions or
later mining mansions, the Culmer home was built for one of Utah’s most
prosperous businessmen at a time when the polygamy issue hampered this
kind of construction for most of Utah’s devout Mormons and at a time when
the mining industry was still in its infant stage.