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David McDonald House

The significance of the McDonald House lies in typifying the values of a middle-class newly emerged from the struggles to establish themselves in pioneer society. The simple dignity of the McDonald House suggests the residence of a hard working, upwardly mobile, skilled tradesman. The very plain house has few stylistically distinguishing details, and the central hall plan is a vestige of earlier vernacular house types. located away from the center of Salt Lake City, it documents the scattered pattern of settlement in the outlaying areas of the Salt Lake Valley. Although the Mormon Church dominated settlement patterns in Utah, the opening of a federal land office in 1869 brought the scattered homestead pattern to the state. The McDonald House exists today in the midst of later twentieth century development, an important remnant of early domestic architecture outside the immediate Salt Lake City area. The house has been carefully restored.

The David McDonald House is located at 4659 South Highland Drive in Holladay, Utah and was added to the National Historic Register (#80003927) on May 29, 1980. The text on this page is from the National Register nomination form unless otherwise noted.

The architect-builders were the owners, David and Arabella McDonald, who lived in the building until their death in 1924. Both were immigrants to Utah in 1869, he from Scotland and she from Northern Ireland, and both were 41 when the home that was the measure of their success in America was constructed.

David McDonald had been educated in Scotland, and served five years of apprenticeship as a blacksmith and millwright. It was not until he was settled in Utah that he met his wife Arabella Anderson, whom he married in the Salt Lake Endowment House in 1874. David and Arabella remained supportive of the Mormon Church and its various programs, although his ambivalence about the Church was cause for comment. His membership in the largely Gentile Liberal party, and the broad and catholic selection of titles in his much-loved library suggest his distance from the mainstream of Mormon thought and practice. The McDonald blacksmithing business, located eventually only 50 feet from the McDonald home, prospered over the years. His increasing stature in the business community led to McDonald’s increasing involvement in politics. With the introduction of national political parties into Utah, he quickly became established as an active Republican.

At the death of both parents in 1924, the home passed into the hands of other members of the family and eventually was converted into a rental property in 1966. The home is now the headquarters of a professional design firm.

The plaque on the building says:
The two-story Victorian house was constructed in 1890 or brick and adobe manufactured on the site. It was built by David and Arabella McDonald, immigrants to Utah from Scotland and Northern Ireland in 1869. In 1977 the house was renovated for use as office for Kent S. Topham.