The Mortensen/Nelson House, constructed c. 1885, with a c. 1898 addition, is significant under Criterion C. The style and type of construction of the earlier portion of the house is representative of the time period not only
in Moroni, but also throughout Sanpete County when local architecture evolved from previously used classical/vernacular styles to the more popular national styles. This evolution was stimulated both by the arrival
of the railroad to Moroni, allowing greater access to building materials, and the increasing prosperity brought to the entire county by the booming sheep industry. Earlier architecture in Moroni reflects the simplicity imposed by limited materials and meager incomes. In the Mortensen / Nelson House’s original inception as a classical hall-parlor type, great attention was paid to architectural details such as Flemish bond brickwork, high-pitched roofs, inlaid stone, bull-nose brick, and ornate cornice brackets. The Gothic Revival details combined with the classical hall-parlor form represent the evolution from early classical and Picturesque to the popular styles found outside of the territory of Utah. The addition and remodeling of the original house c. 1898 is representative of the widespread rebuilding of Sanpete Valley during the period of roughly 1890-1910. There was, in Moroni during this affluent era, a great deal of construction of new housing in the Victorian style, but the majority of the activity was seen in the remodeling of existing homes in the Victorian style. While there remain in Moroni many of the houses constructed during this time period, there are few homes left which represent the more common approach of updating existing houses to the then popular Victorian style. This home is a fine example of both the local evolution to more popular national styles and the rebuilding of the Sanpete Valley.
Else Mortensen Arnoldsen
Part of the 1870 land grant to Moroni City, this lot in block 13, plat “A” was deeded to Lars Arnoldsen in January of 1870 along with a larger lot in block 12. The lot was deeded to his first wife, Else Mortensen in November 1884 as a result of their divorce. Else Mortensen was born in 1823 in Maribo County, Denmark. At the age of 25 she married her sister’s husband, Christian Brodersen, her sister having died the previous year leaving three small children. Else had two additional children by Christian. In 1854 they became converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and as with many converts, immigrated to Utah. They crossed the plains of the United States in the Christian Christiansen handcart company in 1857.
Within a year of their arrival in Utah, Else and Christian separated and Else married Lars Arnoldsen. Lars was a native of the same county in Denmark and traveled to Utah in the same handcart company. The Lars and Else,
along with Else’s two children, settled in the small town of Fountain Green in Sanpete County. Four more children were born in Fountain Green where they resided until 1865 when all the inhabitants of Fountain Green evacuated to the fort at Moroni. A fifth child was born in 1866 in Moroni.
After the fort was disbanded in 1872, the Arnoldsens remained in Moroni, having acquired (for the sum of $21.75) three acres in two town lots and seven acres of farmland. At this same time, Lars took a second wife in
polygamy, Mary Ann Nielsen, by whom he had four children. According to the 1880 Federal Census of Moroni Precinct, Lars and both of his wives, with their children were all living in the same house. Only two of Else’s
children were listed, however, as the oldest, Lars had left home, and two children, a son, 17, and a daughter, 15, had both died the previous year.
In 1884 Else and Lars divorced. In the settlement dated November 10th, she received (under the name of Else Mortensen) lot 1 of Block 13 and about 5 acres of farmland. This land was to revert to her three sons upon her death. After the construction of this home Else lived just six more years, dying in November of 1891 .The home was sold by her sons to Ephraim Nelson for $700 in March of 1892.
Ephraim Nelson, who purchased the home in 1892, was born 1865 in Moroni to Jens C. and Anne M. Nielsen. Shortly after his marriage in 1884 to Kjersten Jensen, the couple moved to Nephi to work in gristmill owned by
her father. They moved several times over the next eight years, trying farming in Deseret for a time, but moved back to Nephi again to work in the gristmill.
In 1892, tired of moving from place to place, the Nelsons moved back to Moroni to go into the sheep business with Ephraim’s brother, Joseph. The Nelsons purchased the subject house from the sons of Else Mortensen.
The first seven years in this house saw the size of the Nelson family double from four children to eight. A large addition, which included a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room, was built on the back of the house
and the original portion of the house was modified to unify the architecture of the building.
In the family photograph taken in front of the house in the summer of 1900, the alterations the Nelsons made to the house are more clearly visible in the shading of the newer brick infill. Two small windows in the center cross-gable on the front of the house were replaced with a door, and there appear to be alterations to the doors and windows on the main level as well, perhaps adding the raised segmental arches to match those in the addition.
Ephraim served two missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one to the Northern States in 1900, the other to California in 1905. The Nelsons also had four more children, making twelve in all. Ephraim
Nelson bought a small farm in Freedom in 1905, leaving his 18-year-old son, Ray in charge of the Moroni property.
Ray Nelson purchased the house in Moroni from his father in 1918, but sold it the following year to Martin and Delena Stevens. In the early 1920s the Stevens added a large front porch and converted the side porch to living
space, both of which have been removed during the current restoration. In April of 1924 Martin Stevens was gored by a bull in the corral just west of the house. He died as a result of his injuries leaving Delena to raise their small children alone. Inl964 Mrs. Stevens subdivided the lot, deeding the west half to her son, Nevert, where he built a home. The east half was also deeded to Nevert at this time, but Delena continued to live in the home until her shortly before her death in 1992. The house remained vacant for several years and the tax file on the property contains a note dated November 4, 1996. “Nevert Stevens came in. Several people have looked at,
but can’t sell the residence. Will likely demolish.” The home was sold to McKay and Pamela Platt in June 2000, who are currently restoring the home.