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 home is located at 4659 S. Highland Dr. in Holladay, Utah
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 adobe (center) section of this home was built in 1877 by David Branson Brinton.
The east and west additions were constructed by Brinton of brick and were completed in 1896.
Located at 1981 E. Murray–Holladay Road in Holladay, Utah – This home was added to the National Historic Register on May 22, 1978 (#78002665)
The David Branson Brinton House is significant for its association with the lives of three locally prominent historical figures: David Brinton, David Branson Brinton, Sr. and David Branson Brinton, Jr., all of who played important roles in the growth and development of Holladay, Utah, one of the state’s earliest settlements. The three were particularly noted as religious leaders but were involved in a variety of community building roles. The Brinton Home is one of the oldest surviving structures in the Holladay area and is architecturally representative of the pioneer period during which it was constructed. The home and much of its rural setting is intact. The Brinton Home is locally considered an historic landmark.
Following the arrival of the first party of Mormon pioneers to the Great Salt Lake
Valley in July 1847, Salt Lake City was founded and built. The following spring,
groups of settlers were sent north and south of the city to establish other communities
The first permanent settlement made outside of Salt Lake City was Holladay’s Burgh,
(later Holliday) named after the founder, John Holladay, which was established on
Spring Creek, a tributary of Big Cottonwood Creek, three miles north of the mouth
of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Among the settlers of 1848-49 was David Brinton (1814-1878) and his family. The Brintons had historically been builders and blacksmiths. William Brinton, David’s great-grandfather, built a three-story house in 1704 in Delworth Town, Pennsylvania, and Brinton’s Mill at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, both National Register sites. David Brinton was a well-known colonizer, missionary and church leader. He was sent on various scouting missions by Mormon leader, Brigham Young, and was among those to select and establish the site of Parowan, an important central Utah settlement in 1851, and was part of the first party to investigate possible settlement areas near Fort Bridger, Wyoming.
As an early pioneer of Holladay, David Brinton obtained lots five and six of the
Holladay Field Plat of 1849. To these properties he added several others and eventually controlled valuable commercial and agricultural land in the center of the
community. A blacksmith by trade, David built a blacksmith shop on the southeast
corner of 4800 South and lower County Road (Highland Drive) where Utah’s first major
shopping mall was later built. On this same land, he had a large farm on which he
raised produce and meat for the consumption of the military at Fort Douglas.
In the late 1860’s, Brinton saw the need for a supply station or store closer to the community than Salt Lake City. Consequently, in 1868, he and his sons built the first store in the area, the Big Cottonwood Co-Operative Store, on his property. In 1869 following the establishment of the Zions Co-Operative Mercantile Institution (Z.C.M.I.) system in Utah Territory, the store became a church-owned and operated venture. In later years, following the demise of the co-op store network, Brinton took over private ownership of the facility.
David Brinton was an important religious leader in Holliday. In 1856, he was ordained
Bishop of the Mormon congregation there and maintained that position, despite serving
as a missionary in England in 1857-58 and 1870-71 until released in 1873. He promoted
education by having a school built on his property in 1852 and had his daughters
teach at the school.
Brinton was somewhat of a controversial figure, being involved in local issues which
resolved only after the intervention of Mormon Church President, Brigham Young, and
some of the Mormon apostles. In one instance, Bishop Brinton disputed with James
Spillet over whether or not a liquor distillery should be allowed to be built in the
ward (ecclesiastical district). The distillery for making whiskey was subsequently
built and “caused considerable drunkeness” according to one account. In 1870, a group
of people sent a petition to Brigham Young requesting the removal of David Brinton
as Bishop. Three Apostles came to Holladay and met with the disgruntled faction and
after much deliberation, convinced them to sustain their leader.
Despite these difficulties, Brinton was known as the area’s “most prominent person.” The main intersection of town was named “Brinton’s Corner” and a new Latter-day Saint ward created in 1911 was named the Brinton Ward.
David Branson Brinton, Sr. (1850-1929) was one year old when his family came to Utah
and helped settle Holladay f s Burgh. He followed his father’s profession of blacksmithing and also helped his father build and run the Co-Op store. David Branson
attended college at the University of Deseret and became a prominent builder in the
state. He constructed numerous school houses and roads in Salt Lake County and the
0. B. Dam on the Sevier River, the Hatch Dam and the Grace Power Plant in Idaho.
Like his father, David Branson served in several community capacities including
Mormon Bishop from 1877 to 1900 and County Postmaster, Constable and Librarian.
David Branson Brinton married Susan E. Huffaker in 1874 and according to family
records, commenced building their brick home in 1877. It is claimed that the central
section of the present house was built first followed by the eastern and finally
the western sections. A close examination of the home suggests, however, that the central and eastern section were built at the same time and possibly as early as the
late 1860’s. The home was built on the old Brinton homestead where the earliest
family residences were erected in or after 1848. It may be that the home in question
was actually built by David Brinton after 1865 and was taken over by his son following
his marriage in 1874. In any event, the last part of the home built, the western wing,
was erected in 1896. The home is well-preserved and has not been significantly altered over the years. Its architecture combines an “L”-shaped vernacular structure,
trimmed with Federal lintels, with a later Victorian wing with Eastlake trim. The
home is one of the oldest remaining in the Holliday area.
The third significant figure to be associated with the Brinton Home was David Branson
Brinton, Jr. (1882-1956). He was raised in the home and became the third member of
his family line to occupy the position of Bishop in Holladay. Counting his service
from 1914-1926, the three generations of Brinton’s served as Bishops for a total of
52 of the community’s 70 years from 1856 to 1956.
David Branson Brinton was educated at the University of Utah from 1902-1906 and served as a Mormon missionary to New York in 1907-09. He became associated with the development of the electrical power industry as result of his knowledge of the hydraulic potential of Big Cottonwood Creek. After serving as manager of the Progress Company, an early Utah power company, he became owner and proprietor of the Brinton Electric Company, founded in 1920. Brinton’s later years were accepted in Church service as he became the Stake President (leader over several “wards” or congregations) of the Cottonwood Stake in 1946, and Stake Patriarch in 1950. Since David B. Brinton, Jr., three more generations, each represented by a son named David Branson Brinton, have become associated with the old Brinton Home, a building which is locally considered an important historical landmark.
The Brinton House was built in at least two stages, beginning in the late 1860’s or early 70’s and ending in 1896. The home has an irregular plan and features two distinctly different architectural styles or periods.
The oldest part of the building consists of its central and eastern sections. These appear to have been built at the same time as the exterior brickwork is integral at all corners and across all walls. Some bricks taken from a wall are stamped “1869” and the patent date on extant box-locks is “1866”, perhaps indicating an original construction date earlier than 1877.
The central part of the building contains four major spaces while the eastern part, which runs laterally to the central section, has two rooms considered together, this “L”-shaped structure represents the original Brinton Home. It is built upon a gray, granite foundation and has a brick superstructure. The brick appears to be handformed and kiln-baked and is not uniformed shaped, i.e., does not appear to have been made commercially. The bricks are laid in common bond with a lime mortar and flush or slightly concave joints. The brick varies in color from cream to light salmon. The one story structure has ten-foot tall ceilings and simply moulded interior trim, including picture rails and four-panel doors. Exterior trim is plain, excepting the decorative scroll-sawed porch brackets, Federal lintel caps and foliated scroll bargeboard.
The original porch which runs across the full width of the central section of the
home is intact, including the rounded columns and wooden floor. The roof ridge of
the “L”-shaped roof is at one level. The two identically designed, corbeled brick
chimneys are intact.
The western wing of the Brinton Home is two stories tall and features pressed dark
salmon or red brick and peut corners on the front facade. This added laterally to
the central part of the old home in 1896, the newer wing has a hip roof, segmentally
arched window bays and extensive interior Eastlake trim. The wing contains a large
living room and dining room on the first floor and three bedrooms on the second
floor. The stairway to the second floor was built in the western end of what is
now the central section. Ornate Eastlake doors, newell posts, railings and balusters
were added to that part of the original building in 1896.
The exterior of the Brinton has not been altered since 1896, excepting the addition
of a screened porch to the rear of the building which appears to date from the
1920 T s. The major interior spaces are basically unaltered, although a modern kitchen,
bathroom and utility room have been created within the existing back rooms of the
home. The original parlor fireplace, moulded ceiling cornice, box-locks and Victorian trim are intact in most areas. The interior walls are believed to be adobelined and are lathed and plastered. Original paint and wallcovering are not extant.
Name unknown but surely well-loved was in 1848 the first to be laid to rest in this historic Holladay Memorial Park. The cemetery, second in the valley, was begun under the direction of Brigham Young. The streams, rolling hills and mountain views make this a beautiful location.
The Holladay Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers have erected this monument, sculpted by Stan Watts, to honor our pioneer forefathers sent to settle in the area of the Springs, called Spring Creek. The Pioneer Mississippi Company, with its leader John Holladay, first called the settlement Holladay’s Burgh.
John D. Holladay, a leader of the Mississippi Company of Mormon Pioneers, entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 29, 1847.
John Holladay’s group explored the valley of the Great Salt Lake and its tributary canyons with an eye towards irrigation, wild hay for their animals, and water power for mills. Most of the Mississippi Company stayed together and by fall had planned their farms and community in the area of a free-flowing, spring-fed stream issuing from the base of Mt. Olympus. Thus the village of Spring Creek, as the stream was then called, was the first to be established away from Great Salt Lake City itself.
As soon as John D. Holladay was named the Branch President, the village took upon itself the name of Holladay’s Settlement or Holladay’s Burgh.
In February 0f 1849 the first surveyed plots of land were issued to the settlers.
Original Land Owners
Lot #1 John D. Holladay
Lot #2 Allen F. Smithson
Lot #3 Robert D. Covington
Lot #4 John D. Holladay
Lot #5 Robert D. Covington
Lot #6 Orlando F. Mead
Lot #7 Robert D. Covington
Lot #8 John Lockhart
Lot #9 John Lockhart
Lot #10 John D. Holladay
Lot #11 Lyman Stephens
Lot #12 Joseph Matthews
Lot #13 Ezekiel Lee
Lot # 14 Milo Andrus
Lot #15 Daniel W. Perkins
Lot #16 William Casto
Lot #17 William Watkins
Lot #18 William Whitehead
Map and information courtesy of Daughters of Utah Pioneers and Steven L. Carr
See other historic markers in the series on this page for SUP Markers.