James Green House / Green/Sabin House

The James Green house, built in about 1887, is significant as an isolated early example of a house type that would reach the height of its popularity at about 1905, the one story brick box. It was built at a time when vernacular house forms still predominated, and reflects the influx of Victorian patterns and details into the vocabulary of the builders of the day. The treatment of the interior of the Green house is particularly significant because it reflects the range of possibilities open to a builder at a time when the use of standard patterns for interior decoration was becoming the norm. Its outhouse is significant as one of few outhouses in Utah that were built of brick. Its broad proportions and the attention given to the patterning of its shingle roof also make it a particularly distinctive example.

The James Green House is located at 206 North 100 East in Bountiful, Utah and was added to the National Historic Register (#82004118) on February 11, 1982.

James Green was born February 22, 1833 at Huntley Hills, Gloucester, England. He was a son of James and Esther Bur low Green. On March 21, 1853, he married Caroline Millington at Parker Row, Gloucester, England. The couple had eight children, the first, Emily Adeline, was born in 1854 and the youngest, John Henry, was born in 1869.

Greens joined the L.D.S. Church while in England and James came to Utah in 1872. One year later, his wife and several of their children arrived here. The family located in Bountiful and James Green purchased land near the tabernacle and built a small home for his family.

After settling in Bountiful, Green began to work as a farmer, but he soon gained interest in the occupation of brick making. The first brickyard in Bountiful was begun by Joseph Holbrook in 1850. Brick making was quite a prosperous business in Bountiful and by the late 1870s there were as many as five brickyards in the town. Of these brickyards were Joseph Holbrook, Angel Bolwell, William Garrett, Parley Hatch, Samuel S. Howard, and James Green. Green’s brickyard was located at Woods Cross and operated from c. 1879 to as late as 1893. Many of the older houses in south Davis County that still stand today are made of brick from Green’s brickyard.

In 1887, Emily A. Green, a daughter of James and Caroline, purchased a building lot on the corner of 200 North and 100 East. Shortly after the lot was purchased, the building of this house was started. Oral tradition credits James Green with building the house. It was to serve as a showplace of his abilities as a builder and also serve as a house for his thirty-three year old daughter, Emily Adeline Green.

By 1893, Emily had married Edward M. Cook and was residing in Anaconda, Montana. The house continued to be owned by members of the Cook and Green families until about 1901, when the house was deeded to Ara William Sabin.

In 1890 Ara William Sabin, his wife Marie, and their two daughters, Birdie and Zara, arrived in Utah from Lincoln, Nebraska. First settling near Vernal, where Ara planned to ranch and raise cattle, the family decided to seek a residence near Salt Lake City, ultimately purchasing the Bountiful house from Green. The Sabins bought the home sometime around 1901 for a relatively small price and moved in promptly. The Sabins, however, were not members of the Mormon Church. Consequently, Marie was not included in social activities as she had been in Nebraska. They soon decided to move, but keep the house as a stop-over place during their frequent trips to Vernal and eastern Utah. Eventually it was decided that it would be wise to rent out the home while the family was away. Zara Sabin remembers no less than ten families living in the house during that time, and stated that they were, “Always good people, but papa made sure they were not Mormons.” The Sabins did eventually retire from the cattle business and settled in their home until they both passed away in the 1940s. Zara never married and continued to live alone in the house. She was active in community affairs and became a member of the L.D.S. Church, as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. She attended and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English, and became a noted Utah poet.

She died in September 1980. In October 1979 the house was purchased by Alex Lisman, who plans on maintaining the house as a residence.

Description of home:

The James Green house is a simple brick box to which typically Victorian elements have been attached. The brickwork is common bond, tie house is one and one half stories in height, and it has a truncated hip roof. It originally had a railing at the roof edge which recalled a widow’s walk. It has gable dormers projecting from the east and west roof sections. The dormer on the façade has a boxed cornice and a pediment decorated with jigsaw cut ornament. Three pilasters accent the two windows of the dormer. On the façade there is a three part window capped by a stained glass transom and brick relieving arch, and a single long, narrow door with a transom and brick relieving arch. The door is multi-paneled, both in the wooden lower half, and in the upper half of stained glass.

As designed, the house had four rooms on the first floor: a hall, a parlor, a kitchen, and one bedroom. There were two bedrooms on the second floor. The original kitchen was changed into a dining room between 1900 and 1915, but the size of the room was not changed. An addition was made to the rear of the house, and by 1923 it included a porch, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a pantry.

While the design of the exterior of the house is not remarkable, the interior is particularly unique, especially for so small a house. Because the design of the exterior is austere, only hinting at Victorian influences, one necessarily expects the interior of the house to have received the same treatment. The builder, however, chose the interior as the showplace where his skills were to be displayed. James Green took great pains to stock this house with the variety of elements with which he could proficiently design a house. There is an impressive staircase with spools joining the balusters, and a hand carved newel post. The staircase is reported to be all fitted woodwork with no visible nails or reinforcements. Green included the full range of possibilities in the design of doors and moldings. A different style of door was used for each room. The parlor doors have multi-paned glass panels and carved panels, and the bedroom door has two arched clear glass windows. Every room has a different corner motif in the door and window moldings. While the designs he used were common types, the use of more than one type of motif in a house is unusual. Other elements which indicate that Green was interested in advertising the extent to which he could provide a house with visual variety are the door knobs which vary from the intricate brass knob on the front door to the black ebony, knobs with brass plated keyhole covers in the living room. The stained glass transom over the living room window and the plaster cast ceiling medallion in that room to which an intricate lamp was attached both add an extra touch of richness to that central gathering place. The medallion is approximately four feet across.

Major alterations to the interior of the original rooms include the addition of a fireplace to the living room in about 1920, the addition of a bay window to the area that became a dining room, and the lowering of the ceiling of that room. The current owner is in the process of raising that ceiling to its original height, and in the process of doing so uncovered another smaller ceiling medallion.

Visible alterations to the exterior of the building include the removal of the roof railing, the addition of the frame window bay off of the dining room, the change from wood shingles to asphalt shingles, and the addition of a one story rear extension. These changes, however, do not greatly affect the original appearance of the house, and have not affected the integrity of the internal features which make the house particularly unique.

The Green house is an unusual house in that a handful of Victorian elements have been applied to a simple box form without any real attempt having been made to integrate those elements into some kind of distinctive design. The house has the look of never having been finished. A porch across the façade or part of the façade which would have given it some unity was never added. The raised platform in front of the house which was included in the earliest known photograph of 1882 and still exists today, adds to the unfinished appearance of the house, looking like the base for a porch. The contrast between the austerity of the exterior of this house and the variety of the interior too mark it as a distinctive dwelling. It is particularly unusual that there was so much attention to detail on the interior of so small a house. Small houses generally had their notable accents on the exterior, their interior having been simply treated.

There is one significant outbuilding on the property, a brick outhouse. It has generous proportions, having been designed with three seats. It is capped with a patterned wood shingle, pyramid roof, and has a four panel wood door with a porcelain knob.