I’ve always loved the old farmers co-operative building in Springville, Utah.
Z.C.M.I. – One of the last remaining fragments of the pioneer era
For more than 100 years, this cast iron and sheet metal facade greeted shoppers at Z.C.M.I.’s flagship store. Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution was formed by Mormon merchants in 1868 at the behest of Brigham Young to combat the economic influences of mining and the transcontinental railroad. The enterprise intended to support local manufacturing, control prices, and invest profits back into the community. Its success spawned similar institutions throughout the Intermountain West and eventually inaugurated a major department store chain. Z.C.M.I. was sold in 1999 to May Company. May Co. was sold in 2005 to Federated Department Stores which owns Macy’s.
Salt Lake City merchants belonging to Z.C.M.I. first consolidated in one building – with an elaborate facade – at this location in 1876. When the building was torn down in 1973, the facade, which had been remodeled several times, was preserved and adapted as a store entrance, as it has been again in City Creek Center.
Provo Citizens Opened One of Utah’s First Co-operative Retail Stores in 1869
As the transcontinental railroad neared completion late in 1868, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worried that it might undermine self-sufficiency in Utah and increase the power of Gentile merchants. Brigham Young proposed co-operative merchandising as an alternative to “trading with the enemy.”
He initiated the formation of a wholesale house, Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution, in Salt Lake City. Young hoped this wholesale outlet would provide inexpensive merchandise to co-operative stores owned by local stockholders in every Utah community.
The people of Provo established one of the first co-operative stores early in 1869. Kimball & Lawrence, a Mormon firm located in Salt Lake City, had just built a two-story brick building where the Knight Block stands today on the northeast corner of University Avenue and Center Street.
The firm realized that they would lose most of their customers to the co-operative movement, so they sold the building and its stock at cost to the Provo Co-operative Mercantile Institution, called by locals the “East Co-op.”
The Co-op did well and doubled in size in 1880 by building an addition onto the east side of the store. The firm continued to show a profit until 1887 when earnings began to fall. By 1895, the co-operative store was bankrupt partly because of extending too much credit.
It successfully reopened two years later, and Jesse Knight bought the property from Z.C.M.I. in 1898. His interests ran the store until 1900, when Knight closed out the stock, tore down the building, and built the present Knight Block, one of the most beloved buildings in the city.
This two-story, one-part commercial block building was constructed in 1889. The second story brick addition dates from c. 1890. Both were built during Sandy’s first major period of development known as the “Mining, Smelting, and Small Farm Era, 1871-c1910”. The “Sandy Co-op” sign panel was located below the corbelled brick cornice was alternating rows of dog tooth coursing. The relatively simple design and bilateral symmetry of the building is expressive of the aesthetics employed on commercial structures in Sandy. It is important as the only two-story commercial block building remaining from the City’s original commercial district.
The Sandy Co-op Mercantile and Manufacturing Co. occupied the building until 1908 when it changed hands several times before being purchased and used by the Knights of Pythias between 1912-1943. The main floor was reportedly used for the sale of general merchandise and the upper floor as a meeting and dance hall. The building was converted to serve as Sandy City’s fire station between 1949-1984. In 1988, it was restored to house the Sandy City Museum.
The land was originally owned by La Grande Young and sold to Wells Clark in 1886. Sandy Co-op purchased it in 1888. The building was constructed in 1890 with a co-op merchantile store on the bottom floor and a social hall on the top floor. Dances and other social events were held weekly as the main social gatherings. The bottom level was used by a variety of occupants including Jenkins Funeral Parlor from 1908 until 1912. During this time period a huge advertisement for “Bull Durham” was painted on the outside south wall. Located across the street was a Utah Southern Railroad Station. The old building survived the vibration of a great many trains during Sandy’s coming of age. In 1912, Mingo Lodge No. 6 Knights of Pythias purchased the building to be used as a lodge hall and rental for other social functions. It was referred to as the “K.P. Lodge” during this time period. In 1939 Sandy City purchased the building as an interim fire station until a new facility was built in 1984 at another location. The building’s architecture dates from 1890 and is of a non-reinforced masonry construction “low fired brick on a quartzite-granite foundation”.
CMI Co-op Building 1890-1908 Official outlet of ZCMI (Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution), “America’s First Department Store”. This building housed the “Sandy Co-op” which was part of the ZCMI co-operative system servicing more than 150 communities in the intermountain area with retail commodities and services beginning in 1868.
Constructed c.1866 and remodeled c.1890, this building is historically significant as one of the oldest extant examples of stores that were developed in the cooperative merchandising movement sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the late 1800s. The cooperative system was devised by LDS church leaders in order to encourage trading among church members and to combat the increasing outflow of financial resources to non-Mormon businesses. In 1869, this cooperative movement had its start in Provo with the formation of the Provo Cooperative Institution, which was later known as the East Co-op. The West Co-op was established later that same year in this building, which had been purchased from A.J. Stewart, a Provo merchant, who had built it about three years earlier.