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Price Tavern/Braffet Block

The Braffet Block or Price Tavern is important to the history of Eastern Utah for several reasons. Its original owner, Mark P. Braffet, was a prominent Utah lawyer. During its early history, the Price Tavern was one of the most prestigious Utah hotels outside of Salt hake City. The building is also of significance because of its association with the Denver and Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) rail passenger service. As a primary rendezvous point for wholesalers and retail businessmen, the Tavern was also important to the commerce of Southeastern Utah. Architecturally, the building reflects the adaptation to problems posed by an unusual frontage configuration and represents an interesting adoption of the “Mission Style” of architecture.

Located at 107 South Carbon Avenue in Price, Utah and added to the National Historic Register on (#78002653) August 11, 1978. (the text on this page is from the nomination form for the NRHP)

Mark P. Braffet, the original owner of the Braffet Block, was born in Pawpaw, Illinois, April 12, 1870. During his early twenties, he moved west working as a railroad telegrapher. In 1892, he arrived in Utah, eventually settling in Scofield as an agent. Braffet married Hannah Johnson of Spanish Fork in 1893 and became the first person to be elected to the post of Carbon County Clerk. During his term as Clerk, Braffet studied law,,-and was admitted to the Utah Bar. He practiced in-Price-until 1900, when he was employed as attorney for the Utah Fuel Company at Salt Lake City. During his seventeen year association with Utah Fuel, Braffet became known for his handling of the damage claims resulting’ from the Scofield mine disaster of ‘May 1, 1900, and for his defense of the company during the famous land fraud case of the/United States vs. the Utah Fuel Company in 1907 – 1909. It was also during his association “with the company that Braffet commissioned the construction of the Price Tavern Building.

On April 22, 1911, Mark Braffet purchased the land upon which he planned to build his hotel from John and Christine Crockett of Price for $4,200.00. Since Braffet made this purchase at least a full six weeks prior to the public announcement of the location of the new D&RG passenger depot, it is very possible that his association with Utah Fuel (which was a subsidiary of the D&RG railroad) provided him with advance inside information which allowed him to acquire this valuable property before general knowledge of the depot location increased its value. In any event, in August of 1911, Braffet announced his intention to build a new saloon and hotel, stating that with the construction of the new depot nearby, the building should be a very profitable investment.

On September 22, 1911, it was announced that a contract for the construction of the building had been let to Eckert and Holmes, contractors of Price and Salt Lake at an estimated cost of $25,000 to $30,000. Regarding the building from the Carbon County News reported:

It will be two stories and basement, with high ceilings and airystone rooms on the ground floor. The second floor will be fitted up for a modern hotel with office, parlors and fine sleeping rooms. The building will be equipped with a modern heating plant and all other modern conveniences. That it will be a credit to the city and will be a profitable investment to Mr. Braffet goes without saying.

The formal opening of the Braffet Building was held on Saturday night, February 17, 1912. The grand opening featured dancing to an orchestra Braffet had brought in from Salt Lake. The pool hall and hotel portions of the building were also opened as well as the “Tavern Café,” and the people of Price “became acquainted with the first really first-class dining room this city has ever had.”

One week after the formal opening, the “Price Tavern Café” began running advertisements in the Carbon County News. According to the advertisements, the proprietors of the café were “Johnson Bros. Athanus Co.”. Lunch counter meals were 35¢, dinners were 50¢, and on Sunday a special chicken and lobster dinner was featured for 75¢. Oysters, clams, lobsters, and trout were shipped in each day on ice by express train.

Because of the connecting north-south wagon roads, the tavern and nearby railroad depot served not only the Price region, but also the Emery County towns to the south and the Uintah Basin region to the northeast. Local informants indicate that the tavern was an important regional rendezvous point. Wholesalers would use the basement of the building to exhibit their merchandise to the retailers who would come in from the surrounding regions. The tavern was also a prestigious overnight stop for train passengers, as well as a favored local meeting point. The fact that Braffet was president of the Salt Lake mining exchange “about 1915” and had extensive holdings of mining properties in Eastern Utah, augmented the popularity of the tavern building as a meeting place for mine owners and operators.

However, within 10 years of the tavern opening, the prestige and importance of the establishment began to decline. In 1925, Mark Braffet and wife, Hannah, mortgaged the Ta ern Hotel and the accompanying tract of land to Audrey Taylor of Moab, Utah for $10,000 for 10 years. On January 2, 1927, Mark Braffet died of pneumonia at his home in the Tavern Hotel at the age of 56. At that time, his son, Robert, was managing the establishment. Braffet willed the Tavern Hotel and accompanying land to his wife, subject to the outstanding mortgage.

of collection and on October 4, 1935, George Franz signed a release of the mortgage. On October 18, 1935, Carbon County purchased the Tavern Building from Hannah Braffet for use as “an infirmary suitable for housing and otherwise caring for indigents who are residents of Carbon County, Utah.” The purchase price was $12,799.49, broken down as follows: $5,299.49 cas , $5,000 to George Franz “as per Braffet-Franz escrow agreement,” and a promissory note to Hannah Braffet for $2,500. In addition, the County agreed to assume “general taxes due and/or delinquent upon said property amounting to the sum of $6,101.35.” When the building was purchased, Mike Pastriakakis was operating a beer parlor in a portion of the first floor. The building is still owned by Carbon County and county officials are formulating plans for its renovation.