The George H. and Euphemia L. Smith House


“While it is true that Federal Heights has come to be recognized as a residence district where unusually artistic homes are the rule, it is doubtful if any residence has been erected in Federal Heights or other sections of Salt Lake the past year or two that boasts more individuality than the home George H. Smith, general attorney for the O.S.L. company in Salt Lake, is erecting…” So observed The Salt Lake Tribune in 1916 about this home, the only one on the tour in the Lower Heights.

It’s certainly distinctive, primarily because of the extensive use of “clinker” brick. Designed by Smith himself, it combines elements of the Arts and Crafts and Prairie School styles, both highly popular in Utah in the early 20th century. Its most defining Arts and Crafts feature is the clinker brick itself and, in particular, the craftsmanship with which it has been laid (although it’s unusual to see it covering an entire house). Its hipped roof and elegant porte cochere are more characteristic of the Prairie School style. The casement windows in the sun porch and wide overhanging eaves derive from both styles.

George and his spouse, Euphemia, occupied the house for 30 years. Their daughter, Euphemia, lived with them until her marriage to Thomas Kinney in 1936. For years until the current owners purchased it in 2002, the house was owned by former Deseret News editor, William Smart.
(text from Preservation Utah’s 2023 historic tour pamphlet)

Located at 55 Laurel Street in the Federal Heights area of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Built in 1916, this house is an excellent example of Prairie School style architecture. Horizontal bands of brick and concrete echo the wide over- hanging eaves and low hipped roof. The main entrance on the side is protected and framed by a porte cochere. A new but common feature of Prairie School architecture, the porte cochere is a prominent single story porch projecting from the house at the front entrance and acts as a covered passage from the car to the house. Perhaps the most interesting characteristic of this two story house is the clinker brick exterior. Clinkers are bricks which have been over-fired. The extreme heating the center of the kiln causes the bricks placed there to become vitrified (melted and glass-like), giving them a globular and misshapen appearance. Although they were considered scrap by the brick yards, clinkers were advocated by the Arts and Crafts movement for their unusual and varied color and texture.

Built-in furniture was a common feature of early twentieth century architecture. Usually the focus was on the fireplace, for the hearth was considered to be the ideal place for the family to gather and strengthen their bonds. The two most common built-in expressions at the hearth were the inglenook (see description of 82 Virginia Street) and bookcases. The tile fireplace in this home is flanked by a pair of unusually long built-in bookcases which run the length of the wall. The exposed woodwork, common during this time period, is still stained appropriately with deep reddish brown varnish.

In December, 1915 George Harris Smith purchased lots 19, 20 and the east half of lot 21 of Block 1 of the Federal Heights subdivision from the Telluride Investment Company. A native of Salt Lake City, Smith was the general solicitor for the Oregon Short Line which eventually became the Union Pacific Railroad. He worked in this capacity from 1899 until his retirement in 1943. In September, 1945 the Smiths sold the house to James K. and Elizabeth L. Snedden. They owned the home for eleven years before selling it to the present owners, William and Donna Smart. This home is remarkable in that it has only had three owners in its eighty year history.
(text from a Utah Heritage Foundation booklet)