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John Henry Layton House

The John H. Layton farmstead, dating from the 1880s, is significant as one of few well preserved examples of a homestead in Utah, a pattern of settlement that developed after 1869 which diverged from the typical plan of a Mormon community. The house, erected in the late 1890s, summer kitchen, well house, granary, and barn have received few alterations, and as a unit are representative of a way of life, the family farm, that is becoming obsolete. This cluster of buildings is also significant as the physical remains of one of Layton’s prominent farmers, John Henry Layton, son of Christopher Layton, the pioneer after whom Layton was named. The house itself is particularly significant because it was designed by William Allen, the only architect in Davis County at the time of its design, and the leading architect in the county until the 1920s. It is one of a very limited number of houses designed by William Allen that has not been dramatically altered. It is of pattern book design, one that may have been used by Allen in the Joseph Adams House in East Layton, and repeated in the George W. Layton house in West Layton. Because the house has received few major alterations it stands as a well preserved example not only of a type that was preferred by Allen, but also one that was considered suitable for a prominent farmer. With some variation in the treatment of ornamentation this type suited a wide range of tastes. The condition of the interior of the house is particularly noteworthy. It is one of few older houses in Utah in which the original woodwork is completely intact. It is a superb example of the technique of wood graining, a procedure by which an inferior wood, pine, for example, was painted to resemble a more high quality wood.

Located at 683 West Gentile Street in Layton, Utah and added to the National Historic Register (#82004123) on February 11, 1982.

The John H. Layton farmstead was first occupied after 1883 when John Henry Layton purchased the land from his father, Christopher Layton. The family originally occupied a two room adobe house that stood in the location of the present summer kitchen. The two story brick house that is presently the focus of the farmstead was built in the late 1890s. The Abstract of Title does not indicate the exact date of construction, but the house was occupied as early as January of 1898. At that time Frankie Josephine Layton Dickson, the twelfth child of John Henry and Hannah Maria Layton, the original owners, is reported to have been born in the house. The house was designed by William Allen, the only architect working in Davis County at the time.

John Henry and Hannah Layton are reported to have been among the first settlers in West Layton, arriving in 1880. John Henry, son of Christopher Layton and his fifth wife, Isabella Golightly, was born in Grantsville in 1855. He was the eighth of thirty-one sons born to Christopher Layton from ten marriages. Christopher Layton was the pioneer after whom Layton was named, and one who made significant contributions to the establishment and growth of several Mormon communities. John Henry and Hannah were married on January 30, 1879 in Salt Lake City. Hannah was the daughter of Edward Phillips, one of the first settlers in Kaysville. John Henry made a living by farming; growing club barley, hay, and sugar beets, and by raising livestock; cattle, sheep and hogs. He and his wife were members of the West Layton Ward of the LDS Church. Although John Henry was not an active church member, Hannah did much to encourage musical activities in the ward and served as ward organist. She also served as the first counselor to the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association of the West Layton Ward, and was a member of the Davis Stake Primary Association for twenty-five years. John Henry and Hannah had thirteen children, ten of which were raised to maturity on the Layton farm.

John Henry’s activities in the business world included participation as one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Layton, serving as the director of the Ellison Ranching Company, and owning stock in the Layton Sugar Company, the Farmer’s Union Store, the Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company, and the Kays Creek Irrigation Company.

The Layton farm can be considered as a late example of a homestead, a pattern of settlement that developed after the Homestead Act was passed in 1869. Homesteading was the first significant development away from the Mormon plan which consolidated homes as a nucleus in a town, and designated fields on the perimeter of the town for farming. John H. Layton’s farm, however, was not the typical homestead in that John Henry did not acquire the typical parcel of 160 acres, but rather purchased his land from his father. He was a homesteader in that he chose to live and farm large areas of land that were remote from the principal area of settlement.

The Layton farmstead was not only a local center of farm activities, but it was also a guest house for those Layton relatives who traveled from Arizona to Utah to be married in the temple in Salt Lake City.

John Henry died in 1920, and Hannah Layton continued to live on the farmstead until her death in 1939. The estate passed from Hannah to her children who divided it among themselves. The house and land immediately surrounding it passed to Lottie Jane Layton and Luella Layton Humphries. They lived in the house until their deaths. Luella left her half interest in the house to her son, Richard Humphries, and Lottie left her portion to other members of the family. Richard Humphries eventually bought Lottie’s half of the property and lived in the house until 1973. At that time lie sold the property to the Lakewood Investment firm. A real estate contract indicates that the house and several acres of land were then sold to Spencer Lynn Nunley for $38,000. Nunley was a house painter from Salt Lake City who bought the house to redecorate and resell. Sharon and E. Keith Slatore bought the property from tile Nunley’s in 1974, and are the current owners. Mr. Slatore is a civil engineer.

William Allen, the architect who designed the Layton House, was originally from London, England. He settled in Kaysville at the age of thirteen and worked as a brick mason. After having completed a correspondence] in architecture he became the leading architect in Davis County. The Kaysville Tabernacle, the Kaysville Presbyterian Church, the Kaysville City Hall, the Kaysville Elementary School, the Barnes Block in Kaysville, and the Davis County Courthouse in Farming ton were among his major works. He also designed a significant number of large brick residences throughout the county.