The Lars Andersen house in Ephraim is architecturally significant as an example of Scandinavian folk building in Utah. The house contributes historically to the thematic nomination, “The Scandinavian-American Pair-house in Utah.”
Lars S. Andersen was born in 1829 in Denmark. Converting to the LDS Church in 1852, he emigrated to Utah in the winter of 1855. Arriving in Ephraim in the summer of 1856, Andersen soon became a leading citizen of this community. He was primarily a farmer, but also served as tithing clerk, and director of the Ephraim Co-op Store. Active in the Church, Andersen was a counselor to the Stake President, Canute Petersen, and filled a Danish mission in 1873-1875. In 1879 he became bishop of Ephraim.
The Johnson-Nielson House at 351 N Main Street in Ephraim, Utah.
The Johnson /Nielson house, built in about 1895, is one of several distinctive Queen Anne brick houses to be constructed in Ephraim, Sanpete County, Utah, during the late 19th century. ( other significant Queen Anne examples are the Larsen-Noyes house and the Dorius-Olsen house) These houses are significant because they represent, first, a dramatic shift in architectural thinking away from the rigid symmetry of earlier vernacular designs, including types transplanted from Scandinavia, and second, the emergence of a local elite who capitalized upon the expanding livestock industry of the 1880s and 1890s. This house was built by Soren Johnson, a Danish contractor who also ran the Union Hotel in Ephraim. Louis B. Nielson purchased the house in 1905 and from here managed one of Sanpete County’s most successful livestock businesses. Nielson raised quality Rambouillet sheep and developed a valuable fine stapled, long fiber, crinkled wool.
The town of Ephraim in Sanpete County was settled in 1853 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, as part of the larger colonization of the Great Basin region during the second half of the nineteenth century. Like most other early Utah towns, Ephraim 1 s economy was based upon a rather limited subsistence-oriented agricultural system. Typical farm homes of the pioneer period were generally fashioned around a small number of vernacular house types which were outwardly symmetrical in design. This traditional architectural aesthetic, imported into Utah from the eastern U.S., prevailed in Sanpete County until the closing decades of the century when newly introduced Victorian styles conspired with an emerging lucrative livestock industry to dramatically change the architectural complexion of the area. After 1870 factors such as a favorable climate, the availability of open range land, and the accessibility of eastern markets over the newly completed transcontinental railroad, led to the rapid expansion of sheep ranching in Utah. in Sanpete County, many local businesses flourished in the wake of the livestock boom. New homes erected during this period followed the Victorian stylistic preferences for visual complexity and asymmetry with the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles being particularly popular. Soren Johnson’s Union Hotel profited from the flush times and in 1895 he built a fine new Queen Anne home which reflected the changing architectural tastes of the Ephraim community.
Soren J. Johnson, the original owner of the home, was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1860. He emigrated to Minnesota as a boy of 14 and later, probably in the 1870s, arrived in the Danish-Mormon colony of Ephraim. Here he was befriended by Anthon Lund, a local church leader who later became one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lund was responsible for converting Johnson to the Latter-day Saint faith. In the 1880s, Johnson married Anna Sophie Dorius, the daughter of one of Ephraim’s leading citizens, C.C.N Dorius. Johnson was a painter and house builder by trade, but also served as manager for Anthon Lund’s furniture business and later was owner-proprietor of Ephriam’s Union Hotel. In the early 1890s, the large Queen Anne brick house on the north side of town was designed and constructed by Johnson himself. The house was completed in about 1895. However, by 1900, Johnson’s main activities were centered around the prosperous Union Hotel, so he moved his family into residence there and rented out the house.
In 1905, Johnson was becoming increasingly worried about the worldly influence of hotel living on his religious family. The rapidly expanding Sanpete livestock industry was drawing considerable outside attention and the Union Hotel was becoming the Ephraim home for many non-Mormon traveling salesmen, drummers, and businessmen. Johnson concluded that a hotel was not the place to instill the proper values in his growing family, so in 1905 he sold both the business and his house and moved to Salt Lake City. In the capitol city he became a successful developer-contractor-builder and is perhaps best known for his work on the Capitol Hill Ward for the LDS Church.
When Johnson moved north in 1905, he sold his fine brick home to Louis B. and Ann Nielson for $1,000. Prior to purchasing this home the Nielsons lived in a two room house that was formerly a chicken coop. They then moved to Second Pigeon Hollow, where they lived in an adobe house supposedly built by Willy Larsen. Four sons were born there.
Louis B. Nielson raised quality Rambouillet sheep, which proved to be of primary importance to the rapidly expanding agricultural base of Sanpete County. The county would eventually became a Rambouillet breeding capitol of the sheep world. In 1897 W. S. Hansen and John H. Seeley purchased pure-bred Rambouillet sheep from France (see John H. Seeley House) In 1907 Mr. Nielson purchased 100 head of these, of which “Old Wood” was one who made the Nielson Sheep Company famous. The ram weighed 350 Ibs. and sheared 42 Ibs. of wool for two years in succession, probably the world’s champion wool producer. Through selective breeding Mr. Nielson developed a fine stapled, long fibre, crinkled wool. He shipped lambs to Nebraska and Missouri, receiving gold as a portion of the payment. Mr. Nielson owned about 1,000 acres of land on the west side of the valley, in addition to extensive grazing permits in the East Mountains. He had about 1,000 head of Rambouillet sheep.
Mr. Nielson, David Madsen and A. C. Anderson devised a plan to excavate a ditch on the East Mountain. They followed a survey along the “Low Pass” to bring needed water to Ephraim and the valley farms. Months were spent on the project. A similar plan, in a similar location, was later adapted by Ephraim City to increase the water supply. The old ditch is still visible.
Glen J. Nielson, and his wife Virginia purchased this home from the Louis B. Neilson estate on January 24, 1938. Glen is the fifth child, and the first one born in this home. He was a pioneer in the now prominent turkey raising industry. His were the first “broad-breasted Mammoth bronze” turkeys. He was successful in this venture. He also had an outstanding herd of Rambouillet sheep. He pioneered the huge, white Charolais industry in Ephraim, and received national awards on his heifers, after following selective breeding procedures. He owned several farms in Sanpete where he ran his turkeys, cattle, and sheep.
Glen Nielson served in various positions in the city, including a term on the City Council, and was a counselor and then Bishop in the Ephraim West Ward. The present chapel was constructed under his jurisdiction. Following his release as Bishop he was sustained as a Patriarch in the South Sanpete Stake.
The Johnson-Nielson house, built about 1895, is one of several distinctive Queen Anne houses constructed in Ephraim during the late nineteenth century. Soren Johnson, the original owner, was born in Denmark in 1860. A painter and house builder, Johnson designed and constructed this house himself. In 1905 he sold it to Louis B. and Ann Nielson, prosperous Ramouillet sheep raisers. Their son, Glen J., and his wife Virginia, purchased the house in 1938. They continued in the Ramouillet and agriculture industry. He pioneered the broad-breasted mammoth bronze turkey and charolais cattle industry in Ephraim.
Built in 1911 by six local businessmen, Ephraim Social Hall is an imposing two-level, three-story tall commercial brick building. The interior capacity is stunning. Originally, the expansive first floor housed the J.F. McCafferty general store in front and the Consolidated Wagon and Machine Co. in the rear. A grand social hall on the second floor is still intact today with 22 foot-high ceilings, tall windows and an enormous dance floor made of maple hardwood. The second floor also contained a ticket room/coat room and ladies and gentleman’s parlors.
Ephraim Social Hall came alive in 1911, as the blazing light of large tungsten lamps reflected in full length mirrors and a live orchestra played for dancers, while spectators sat in galleries.
The building is now owned by Roy Crouch and the downstairs is a pizza parlor and the upstairs is still used as a dance hall.
This squared limestone block building likely was constructed in the 1870’s or 80’s. The upper floor served as the City Hall, with a raised front entrance and tall plastered ceiling. The lower floor was the City Jail with its separate front and side entrances and two iron-barred jail cells. The front porch has been altered but otherwise, the broadside-facing structure is architecturally intact including the six over six windows and their Federal style lintel caps.
Old-timers claim there were more than two jail cells, but this is not structurally indicated. Most inmates were vagrants or drunks from the train, who disturbed neighbors with their loud complaints from the jail. One elderly gentleman remembered the police arresting some young miscreants (he was one of them) for disobeying the curfew law, and locking them up for a few hours to persuade them to be law-abiding. The building is now a house, but the exterior is largely unchanged from the days when it was a jail; iron bars still remain on the basement windows. The prison cells in the basement are now a guest room and storage room; the jail entry area is a study and bookshelves and a fireplace. The main floor has a kitchenette, dining area, and a living room.(*)
The Peter Greaves and William Price Deakin house is located at 118 South Main Street in Ephraim, Utah and was built in 1880 and was considered to be one of the finest homes south of Provo.
The Greaves-Deakin House is significant because of its fine vernacular architectural design, its elaborate interior decoration, and its remarkable state of preservation. Greaves was a successful Ephraim merchant and his home was consistent with his prominent standing in the community. While basing his design on certain older concepts of internal plan and formal massing. Greaves exploited the stately verticality of the Gothic Revival style to achieve a particularly fine synthesis of traditional and innovative architectural ideas. With its subtle but well-crafted Gothic trim and its spectacular interior decoration, the Greaves-Deakin house ranks as one of truly exceptional examples of early domestic architecture in the Sanpete Valley.
The Greaves house plan is essentially a “T” plan, or “modified temple” vernacular type. The house has a gable facade central axis with a side wing on the north which contains the front door. The gable-facade house plan finds its source in Greek-Revival architectural thinking of the early 19th century when people demanded houses which resembled classical temples. Scholars have called the earliest versions of the Greek Revival house which had the front door on the central gabled axis a “temple form” house. As the century wore on and the house type moved into the upper midwest the main door was increasingly found on the side wing. This house has been called appropriately a “modified temple” form type and reached its height of popularity during the 1840-1880 period in the midwest. The house persists through a number of stylistic changes and can be found in Utah both with Greek Revival and Gothic Revival stylistic- features. This modified-temple house forms an important part of the Utah vernacular and can be viewed as one of the typical house types of the 19th century.
Peter Greaves was born in Patterson, New Jersey in 1837. The family moved through Ohio to St. Louis and eventually joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the late 1840s. Greaves journeyed to Provo in 1852 and moved onto Fort Ephraim in Sanpete County in 1856 where he established himself as a fine carpenter and farmer. By the 1870s Greaves was expanding his operations to include freighting as a “buyer and shipper of wools, hides, and grain.” By 1886 he was president of the Andrews and Co. shipping firm which was based in Nephi. Greaves holdings included in 1898, 100 acres of land and a “comfortable town residence.” He participated in the community as churchman and city councilman and served in the territorial legislature during 1891-1896. Family records indicate that the house was constructed during the 1875-1880 period.
The Greaves-Deakin house is a two-story stone “modified temple” vernacular house type. The type grows out of a Greek Revival attempt to create a gable-facade home patterned after classical temples. Surfacing in the early 1800s the “temple form” homes had the main front door on the central gable facade which was often flanked by side wings. As the house moved into the midwest around mid-century, the front door increasingly was found on the side wing; this variant has come to be called a “modified temple house.” The modifed temple house has a “T” plan, with the “T” lying on its side. Though inspired by Greek thinking, the Greaves-Deakin house is composed primarily of Gothic Revival stylistic features.
The central gable facade axis of the house is two rooms deep and really 21/2 stories high. This section contains a frame segmented bay window on the first floor and gingerbread scroll-cut bargeboards crested by a finial. The side wing is two stories high and has a two-over-two piercing pattern. The tops of the upstairs openings break the eaves slightly and are gabled. The bargeboards and finial pattern here follows the example of the main gable. A hipped porch covers the side front door. While the vertical proportions and principle decorative features of the house reflect Gothic stylistic concerns, the pedimented wooden window heads represent a continued regard for classical motifs.
On the inside the Greaves-Deakin house is well preserved and retains much of its original painted woodwork and wallpaper. The first floor door frames and window mouldings are wood grained walnut. The ceiling in the front bay has a hand painted rosette. Each of the rooms on the first floor contain large fireplaces. The fireplace openings are sealed with wooden panels which at one time were painted with elaborate floral designs. This elaborate painting remains intact in the back room on the south – extending up the wall to the ceiling. The mantle in this room is painted to resemble white marble. Upper rooms reflect a similar state of preservation. Doors are painted in hushed Victorian tones – greys, pinks, and blues. Double doors lead out onto balconies which once graced both the front porch and bay window.
This house was constructed circa 1860s by Frederick Christian Sorensen and his Norwegian wife, Emelia Cecille Marie Flinto. They were some of the first Scandinavians converted to the LDS Church by Elder Erastus Snow. In 1853, with two children, they emigrated from Denmark with the John E. Forsberg Company. That first winter they lived in a wagon box in Manti. In spring if 1854, Frederick was listed as one of the first settlers who helped build Fort Ephraim and lived in a “little house” in the fort.
This 1 1/2-story house is an American variant of the older Scandinavian folk house or “Pair House” type. Built of adobe, the house was covered with red adobe plaster and scored to resemble brick. Frederick was a polygamist so the house was built to accommodate at least two families. It has a central “best room” flanked by a smaller room on each side. The three rooms give this house its “Pair House” or “Parstuga” name. The house has a second story that is reached by two steep stairways on each side. In the rear, a long kitchen adjoins the three main rooms. The roofing system is a heavy timber technique with axe-hewn rafters, rarely found in Sanpete County. Frederick was a skilled blacksmith and crafted hinges, hooks, and latches in the home.
The home’s tall front door was open to many early pioneers, who made their way through Ephraim during its early history. Unaltered through many generations, except for the exterior veneer, this enduring home is an important example of Scandinavian heritage in Utah.
Frederick Christian Sorensen’s marriages that resulted in 22 children:
This building is a Neo-Classical style and was built before 1905. H.P. Larson owned it and he sold it to D.W. Anderson in 1910. It has been the Anderson Drug Store ever since. If you have time walk inside and note the original ceiling and the two old signs on the back wall.(*)