This one and one-half story, painted-brick ,Victorian Eclectic house, built in 1903, has a central block plan with projecting bays. A wide frieze with dentils and stylized brackets runs around the house under wide overhanging eaves, and the three projecting bays feature exotic arched windows within cornice returns. A water table is defined approximately four feet above grade with two rows of ashlar bricks.
Several changes have been made to the masonry. The front door has been partially filled in with fieldstone, and most of the windows on the east (rear) and north sides have been altered on shape or size. All of the windows have aluminum replacement sashes. The yellow, asphalt shingle pyramidal roof is in good condition, and a weather vane sits at the top. A small, one story frame addition sits at the rear of the house behind the south-facing bay, and a redwood deck has been attached to the rear (east) of the house. A concrete one-car garage is located to the south of the house and bears the inscription “1937 AHJ” above the door. A frame shed next to the garage dates from around the same time.
The front (west) façade features a gabled bay that projects out less than one foot. The centered first story window has a large fixed sash with elliptical stained glass transom above. The upper window has a triangular transom, and the window hood forms an exotic arch around it. Both windows have heavy, ashlar arched hoods with corbelled ends. A concrete porch leads up to the front door, which has been made shorter and narrower with fieldstone infill.
The south façade features exotic arched windows in both the main block and the upper bay at the right. A large fixed window on the main story of the bay matches the one on the front. A one story frame addition with vertical wood siding and hipped roof sits in the ell between the south bay and the rear façade.
The rear (east) façade is partially protected with a canvas awning that spans the deck. Two tall narrow windows with soldier arches have been bricked in and replaced with square aluminum sashes.
All the windows on the first story of the north façade have been changed from tall narrow openings with soldier brick retrieving arches to square or horizontal windows with aluminum sashes. The upper story of the gable at the center of this façade has an exotic arched window matching the others. A tall corbelled chimney on the north roof pitch is in good condition.
This land on which this home sits was originally patented to Roswell Ferre in 1872. This originally unincorporated section of Geneva Road between Provo and Orem was historically called Lake View. Ten years later Ferre deeded almost nine acres of land to John Williamson. Williamson’s son John, Jr. and his wife, Lovina Clark were married in 1900, and they built this yellow brick home three years later, complete with indoor plumbing and a stove in every room. John, Jr. was born in Lake View February 5,1880.
Sometime between 1911 and 1913, John, Jr. and Lovina sold the home to John’s cousin Alfred Henry Johnson and his wife Mary Murl Holdaway. Alfred was a farmer, supporting his family with dairy cattle, and hay, grain, and sugar beet crops. During the Great Depression Alfred had thirty-five cows. The couple had five children (one died as a toddler), before Mary passed away in 1923 . One year later Alfred married Frances Madsen of Sanpete County in the Manti Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). Together they had two children, the younger being current home owner/Edward Dale Johnson. Alfred parceled off four-tenths of an acre at the northwest corner of this property in 1935 to his second son, Dean Alfred. That year, Dean completed a home on that plot.
In 1949 Alfred deeded the house and one acre of land to his son Edward Dale “Ted,” shortly after Ted’s marriage to Wanda. Alfred kept the farm land, and he and Frances moved down the road. Ted went to work for his father, and they ran the farm together until Alfred’s retirement. Ted took over the family farm at that time, as all of his brothers had their own farming operations in Lake View. Alfred passed away in 1968, and Frances died in 1974.
Numerous changes have been made to the house. In 1933 Alfred and Frances removed the uncovered porch that spanned the front façade. Two years later they remodeled the interior, enclosing the open staircase and sealing three sets of pocket doors in the front rooms. Electricity came to Lake View early in the twentieth century, and this house was hooked up around 1913. Since Ted and Wanda have owned the home, they have altered the window openings on the rear and north (side) facades, and replaced all of the openings with aluminum sashes, and they have lowered all of the first story ceilings. In 1959 the home heating system was converted from coal to gas, and twenty years later the rear screened porch was enclosed.
The American Fork 3rd Ward Meetinghouse, constructed in 1903 and expanded in 1938 and in the 1950’s, is significant for its association with the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) in northwest American Fork and for its importance to the community and the patterns of social life seen in its use.
Architecturally, the building is significant as an artifact documenting evolution of and influences on architectural styles and customs of the LDS Church during the first half of the century. This era, when the church (officially) established standardized design for its church buildings, is believed by architectural historians to be the golden age of Mormon meetinghouse architecture.
This building is one of four meetinghouses designed and built by local craftsmen and ward members in American Fork, and it reflects the popularity of the Gothic Revival and Victorian Eclectic styles in church buildings during this era. The 1938 addition of a Jacobethan Revival-style recreation hall and classroom wing, designed by the church architectural department, reflects the church’s policy of including all church functions under one roof; previously separate amusement halls had been the policy. The 1958 addition and interior renovation, designed by Clifford Evans Architects, was a conservatively modern attempt to adapt the original structure to a growing ward membership.
The church sold the building in 1995 due to its limited size. After being a daycare center, it was purchased in January 2001 by the Hawker family, who then initiated the extensive renovation, working closely with the National Historic Register to preserve its historic value. The grand opening of Northampton House, a wedding, banquet, and reception hall, took place in October 2001.
Located at 198 West 300 North in American Fork, Utah and added to the National Register of Historic Places (#02001554) in 2003.
Narrative Statement of Significance
The American Fork Third Ward Meetinghouse, built in 1903 and expanded in 1938 and the 1950s, is significant under the “Meetinghouses & Tabernacles” context of the Mormon Church Buildings in Utah: 1847-1936 multiple resource nomination, for its association with the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) membership in the northwest portion of American Fork, Utah. The building is significant under Criterion A for its importance to the community and the patterns of social life seen in its use. The building is also significant under Criterion C as an important document of the influences on and changes in architectural styles and customs of the LDS Church during the first half of the twentieth century. The original 1903 chapel is one of four churches, designed and built by local craftsman and ward members, and reflected the popularity of the Gothic Revival and the Victorian Eclectic in turn-of-the-century church construction. The1938 addition of a recreation hall and classroom wing, designed and directed by a strong church central architectural department, was Jacobethan in style and reflected the church’s policy of including all church auxiliaries and functions under one roof. The 1958 addition and interior renovation, designed by a Salt Lake firm with ties to the church, was a conservatively modern attempt to adapt the original structure for a growing membership. Between January and September 2001 the American Fork Third Ward Meetinghouse was extensively rehabilitated to adapt the building for use as a reception center. This work was being completed as a historic tax credit project, and included the restoration of several original features. The building is in excellent condition and is a contributing historic resource of American Fork.
HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FORK THIRD WARD MEETINGHOUSE
In the summer of 1850, three years after members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in the Salt Lake valley, pioneers camped in the area now known as American Fork while traveling to Provo, fifteen miles to the south. Impressed by the area, Arza Adams and Stephen Chipman asked permission from Brigham Young to establish a cattle ranch, but were instructed to survey several tracts for settlement. The initial pattern of settlement in 1851 differed from the traditional Mormon villages because the settlers chose to first live and farm along the creek where they had access to water rather than build on the small orderly town lots. Indian unrest resulted in the construction of a fort in 1853, and from then on the settlement was less dispersed and the town grew within the town site. For most of the 1850s through 1870s, American Fork residents relied on ranching and subsistence farming, lived in simple log and adobe homes, and held meetings in an adobe building, also used as a school. The city was incorporated on June 18, 1853, as Lake City, and later the name was officially changed to American Fork in 1860.
Economic growth came in the late nineteenth century as the city became stable enough to strengthen municipal institutions and support mercantile trading. The Deseret Telegraph Company established an office in American Fork in 1867. By 1870, a narrow gauge railroad was built to the nearby canyon to support mining activity, and a major event occurred in 1873 when the Utah Southern Railroad extended its service to American Fork.
Mining brought cash to support a growing mercantile base, and brickyards and lumber mills allowed residents to construct more substantial and stylish homes and businesses. When the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad reached American Fork in 1883, the city was experiencing intensive commercial growth and municipal maturity. Between 1890 and 1900, the population of the city grew from 1,942 to 2,732.
The American Fork Ward of the LDS Church was organized on May 5, 1851, and was the social focus of the practically the entire town for fifty years. On January 13, 1901, a general reorganization of the LDS Church in Utah County took place. The original Utah Stake of Zion (a stake is equivalent to a diocese), which once encompassed all LDS wards (equivalent to parishes) in the county, was divided into three stakes. The northern portion of the county, which included American Fork, became the new Alpine Stake. Six months later, on July 14, 1901, the American Fork Ward was divided into four wards, each comprising a quadrant of the city. A committee was appointed in each of the four wards to locate a site on which to building a ward chapel. The four buildings were completed by 1905, and all were rectangular buildings with towers at one corner and Gothic Revival details. Local carpenter, Arthur Dickerson (1874-1949) designed the Third Ward. The four ward bishops bought the brick together because they could get a good price for such a large quantity. All four chapels were later expanded (1920s-1930s) to include recreation hall and additional classrooms. Of the four buildings, only two are extant: the Second Ward Meetinghouse, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, and later incorporated into the American Fork Historic District in 1998; and the Third Ward building. The Fourth Ward building was destroyed by fire on June 28, 1975, and the First Ward was demolished in the late 1960s.
The American Fork Third Ward included all the members living in the northwest quadrant of the city. A corner lot at 190 West 300 North belonging to the Thomas Shelley (1822-1903) family was acquired by John R. Hindley (1863-1947), first bishop of the Third Ward, for the sum of four hundred dollars in May 1902. On October 3rd, Hindley transferred the deed to the American Fork Third Ward to be administered by him as bishop and by his successors. Excavation on the building commenced in April 1903. Members began holding services in the basement as soon as the first room was finished. The chapel was completed by 1905. With few exceptions, the labor to build the edifice was donated by ward members. The building was completed at a cost of $9,099.75. Both the Third and Fourth Ward chapels were dedicated on March 17, 1907. A photograph taken on that Sunday morning indicates a crowd of more than 200 in attendance at the Third Ward service. An interior photograph taken that year shows the chapel with metal frame, theater-type seats, elaborate woodwork in the podium-pulpit area, and a large coal burning stove to provide heat. A second smaller stove was located in the basement. According to Ellen Tracy, historian of the Third Ward, the “grounds were lovely with grass and trees. North of the building were hitching posts for those who had to come with horse and buggy or wagons. And back of the hitching posts was a grove of trees and grass where many socials were held.” The manuscript history of the ward notes a second dedication on September 3, 1908, by Joseph F. Smith.
The ward grew steadily and by July 1915, the northern-most portion of the ward boundaries was given to the Highland and Alpine Wards, with a transfer of 95 members. The ward continued to grow, but for many years the original chapel was more than adequate especially since extremely large groups could by accommodated in the Alpine Stake Tabernacle, built between 1909 and 1914. In 1929, with a ward membership of 659, a committee was formed to discuss the building of an amusement hall. During the previous decade the LDS Church had instituted a policy of including all ward auxiliaries and functions under one roof. For example, the Third Ward Relief Society (the ladies’ auxiliary) converted an old school house to a Relief Society Hall in which they held meetings for eighteen years. The anticipated construction was postponed; however there appears to have been some minor renovation work in the chapel and basement by contractors of the Chipman Mercantile Company completed in 1929. By 1932, the ward was paid off the debt for this work and began again to consider an addition. In June 1937, the ward approved plans for a new recreation hall and classroom block provided by the church architectural department, and work commenced exactly one year later. The general contractor for the project was again Chipman Mercantile of American Fork. Electrical work awarded to Samuel F. Grant of American Fork, and Utah Fuel Supply of Salt Lake City was awarded the heating contract. Work proceeded so quickly that by October 1938, the building committee was able to report the brickwork was complete and the shingling nearly complete. The building was mostly finished by 1939 and more than double the existing floor space. The recreation hall included a basketball court, stage area, and projection room (movies were a popular ward social event in the 1930s and 1940s). The classroom wing included twelve classrooms, a Relief Society room, bishop’s office and kitchen. Other amenities included new restrooms, a cloakroom, and remodeling of the basement.
Though the project was not completely finished until 1942, the majority of work took less than a year partly because more paid labor was used than in previous projects. Final cost was about $30,000, with the general church fund providing sixty percent of the cost and the ward financing forty percent. This left the ward with a hefty debt on the building. Several methods of fond raising were used. The ward held benefit banquets, including a January 1939 dinner held for the general public in the basement of the tabernacle. In 1940 the Relief Society raised funds by sewing a quilt featuring the names of all the officers who had served in various ward capacities since 1901. One enthusiastic member issued a challenge to the priesthood that he would match dollar for dollar all funds donated by other ward members. The amount was considerably more than he anticipated, but he came through and paid up. The completion of the new wing raised enthusiasm in the ward. The year 1939 was a banner year for perfect attendance awards.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, American Fork was a primarily agrarian community. Though only a few residents participated in large-scale agricultural production, most families supplemented their employment by having vegetable gardens, small orchards, and chicken coops on their large lots. Growth in the community was slow, the population of American Fork increased by less than 700 between 1910 and 1940. World War II brought the Geneva Steel Plant and thousands of defense workers to Utah County. Many stayed in the area, and by 1950, the population of American Fork had jumped to 5,126. The large lots within the Third Ward boundaries began to be subdivided to accommodate the post-war housing boom. In January 1950, with a ward membership of 1,022, the Third Ward was divided creating the Eighth Ward whose members lived on the east side of 100 West. The division necessitated staggering meeting times in order to share the building. The Eighth Ward later moved into a new building with the Sixth Ward.
In April 1956, a committee was organized to study possible additions and renovations to the Third Ward building. The accepted proposal was projected at a cost of $48,850. Dal Allred of Clifford Evans Architects, a Salt Lake firm with long-standing ties to the LDS Church designed the classroom-office wing to the west, and a substantial remodel of the chapel. Renovation work began on February 29, 1957, when the men and boys of the ward removed the original chapel seats. Meetings were held in the Alpine Stake Tabernacle during the construction. The ward held seven building-fund banquets and other entertainments to help defray construction costs. Virtually all of the building received some type of renovation, but the most significant alteration was made in the chapel where the original podium pulpit was removed and a new one built at the opposite end. All new landscaping and expanded parking facilities were also included in the project. The final cost of the 1957-1958 work was estimated at $85,885.77. Four hundred fifty members (out of a ward population of 940) attended dedication services on December 14, 1958.
The design of the renovation was intended to accommodate two wards in the building, which occurred in March 1959 when the ward was again divided. The new Tenth Ward took all members north of 500 North. A new chapel for the Tenth Ward was built in 1964. In October 1973, the Third Ward was combined with parts of the Seventh Ward to form a new Sixteenth Ward, an event that Ellen Tracy describes as “a real blow to the older 3rd ward members.” The building continued to be used by members of the LDS Church until it was sold in October 10, 1994, when it was deemed inadequate. The Briar Rose Preschool acquired the property and immediately remodeled the building for school use. The building was sold in 1999 to the Chapel Hill Academy, and in January 2001 was acquired by the current owner. In September 2001, a complete adaptive reuse renovation of the building was completed as an historic preservation tax credit rehabilitation project. The building is currently known as the Northampton Reception Center.
The first meetinghouse in American Fork was a vernacular Greek Revival-style hall, built of adobe brick in 1861 (now demolished). The four ward meetinghouses built between 1901 and 1905 represent a period of change during which the LDS Church, following the pattern of other Christian denominations, considered the Gothic Revival style appropriate for church buildings.2 The character defining features of these Gothic-style meetinghouses were asymmetrical facades, crenellated towers, and pointed-arch windows with wooden tracery. In plan, the meetinghouse was typically a rectangular hall with classrooms and offices located in a wing or in the basement. The church hierarchy usually employed local builders (often members of the ward) when professionally trained architects were not available. James H. Pulley (1856-1934), a local builder-carpenter, is known to have designed the Second and Fourth Wards. Arthur Dickerson, a local builder and member of the ward’s building committee designed the Third Ward building. Arthur Dickerson was born in American Fork in 1874. He is listed on the 1900 census of American Fork as a carpenter. According to his obituary, Dickerson was an “inventor, building contractor and musician.” In addition to designing and constructing buildings, he also made violins and guitars, and dabbled in poetry. He died in Idaho in 1949.
The practice of employing local builders and architects for meetinghouse designs was common in the church until 1920. After World War I, due increasing membership and building expenses, LDS Church leaders created a centralized architectural department where standardized plans could be produced in order to erect meetinghouses more quickly and less expensively. The plans for the 1938 addition were generated by the LDS Church Architectural Department and reflect the influence of head architect Joseph Don Carlos Young (1855- 1938), who designed for the church from the 1890s to his retirement in 1936. Between 1921 and 1936, his influence permeated the design of most LDS meetinghouses produced during this period. Young used a wide range of architectural vocabulary in his designs. Most of the meetinghouse designs were based on his innovative design of a U-shaped chapel and amusement hall. This standard plan was used in a number of wards and was nicknamed the “Colonel’s Twins.” Decoration on the buildings varied, but usually incorporated Georgian and Federal-style architectural motifs. The American Fork meetinghouses were an adaptation of the U-plan to existing chapels. The Third Ward’s Jacobethan Revival (a style based on 17th century English architecture) ornamentation is subtle and complements the Gothic-style of the original chapel. The 1958 addition and renovation, while just outside of the historic period, is also an important feature of the building. The west wing is somewhat of an aberration in the church’s architectural department of the 1950s. Standardized plans, most featuring Colonial Revival exteriors and modern interiors, were available in a range of sizes and configurations to accommodate variations in membership numbers and sites. Adapting and renovating older buildings was becoming increasingly rare, as the church was embarking on an ambitious program of chapel building. The three building phases of the Third Ward represent changes in LDS Church architecture throughout the twentieth century.
The American Fork Third Ward Meetinghouse is a two-story, brick church building, constructed in three phases between 1903 and 1958. The original chapel space, constructed in 1903-1905, was designed in an eclectic Gothic Revival style. In 1938, a recreation hall and classroom wing was constructed to the east and north with modest Jacobethan decorative elements. The building was again expanded in 1958 in a wing to the west and north. Through the years minor alterations have been made to the exterior of the building, none of which substantially affect the building’s overall architectural integrity. The interior was extensively remodeled during the construction of the 1958 addition. The building is currently undergoing a major rehabilitation for adaptive reuse as a reception center. This work, which is a historic preservation tax credit project, is designed to restore many of the original features of the building as well as adapt the building to a new use.
The original 1903 footprint was a 53 feet x 80 feet rectangle with a square tower and entrance vestibule at the southeast corner. The 1903 building sits on a rock-faced, ashlar, stone foundation. The brick is red tap brick laid in a running bond with flush mortar joints. Decorative brick elements included corbelling at the cornice line, square colossal pilasters (projecting above the roofline for a slightly castellated effect), and rock-faced brick accenting the window hoods and round tower windows. Windows and door transoms were pointed, gothic-arches. A large stained-glass window was located on the south elevation. The upper tower windows had a floral design. The main floor of the sanctuary was above a raised basement. Steps leading up to multi-panel, double doors were located on the tower’s south elevation, and the north end of the east elevation. A grade-level entrance to the basement was located on the east side of the vestibule. Sandstone was used for lintels, sills, impost blocks, keystones, and the date block above the tower entrance. The cornice was plain and the eaves of the simple gable roof were slightly belcast. The roof of the tower was pyramidal with patterned shingles. On the interior, the sanctuary featured a raised podium and pulpit at the north end. The podium featured Victorian-gothic ornamentation such as a lathe-turned balustrade and gothic-designs in the woodwork. Metal frame theater-style seats were used (instead of pews), and a large pot-bellied stove was mounted next to the podium to heat the space. Ward histories indicate in 1929, the basement, originally used for classroom space, was expanded and remodeled.
In 1938, the first major addition was built to the east and the north. This addition effectively doubled the floor space of the original building, with a recreation-social hall to the east, a two-story auxiliary wing (classrooms, restrooms, and kitchen) to the north, and a foyer connecting the new space to the old. The new addition is constructed on a concrete foundation with no basement. The brick is laid in common bond with headers every sixth course. The south elevation of the addition features corbelled brick and pilasters similar to the 1903 building, but the decorative elements are Jacobethan rather than Gothic Revival. The south elevation of the social hall features a projecting entrance wing with a crenellated parapet and cast concrete window and door surrounds. A second, recessed entrance (also with a cast concrete surround) leads into the connecting foyer. On the interior the foyer has stairs to the second floor classrooms and a cloakroom. The hall is open with a stage to the north and a projection room (above the projecting entrance wing). The classrooms, restrooms, kitchen etc. are located at the rear of the building and can be accessed either from the foyer or the rear entrance.
Both the north and east elevations of the 1903 building were significantly impacted by the 1938 addition. In addition, the pilaster caps and belcast eaves were probably removed at this time when a new roof was installed on the structure.
In 1958, a major remodeling took place when the west wing was added. The 1958 wing is also two stories, and construction included additional excavation of the original basement. The wing sits on a raised concrete foundation and is constructed of red brick laid in a common bond similar to the 1938 addition. Although the 1958 addition features pilasters, there is little ornamentation such as corbelling. The windows are steel-sash, multi-pane windows and the doors were multi-paneled wood. The wing sits sufficiently back from the south elevation and does not impact the main facades of the 1903 and 1938 portions. The main feature of the 1958 addition is the entrance on the west elevation. On the interior, the space is divided into an entrance vestibule, classrooms, offices, and a large mechanical room in the basement.
According to the construction drawings for the 1958 addition, the 1938 wing was left intact with little or no alterations. However, several significant changes were made to the 1903 portion of the building. On the exterior, the stone foundation was encapsulated in concrete and the steps to the tower entrance removed. The cornice was replaced and the roofline simplified. Louvers were installed in the attic vents. The tower roof was removed and replaced with a built-up roof deck, a new crenellated brick parapet, capped with cast concrete, and new metal steeple. New cast concrete panels replaced the original upper tower windows. A chapel annex (quiet room) was added to the chapel’s east elevation. The gothic windows on the west elevation were replaced with steel-sash versions of the same design. The wood sash of south elevation window and transom was left intact, however, the original stained glass was replaced with a blue-green, marble-patterned milk glass. On the interior, the changes were even more significant. All original finishes and furnishings in the chapel were removed. A new podium was built at the south end changing the orientation of the congregation and new pews were installed. The new design was modern, with simple lines and light, tan-colored woodwork.
About 1970, the stained-glass window and tower entrance were bricked-in, probably due to the difficulty of replacing broken glass. The aluminum soffits around the entire perimeter of the building were installed in the 1980s. A more major alteration was the replacement of the wood doors on all main elevations with glass and aluminum (probably 1970s or 1980s). Metal stairs were added to the west (supported by wing walls) and north elevations for additional egress from the second floor, and necessitated converting two windows into doors. When the property was sold in 1994, church officials had the steeple removed before transferring the deed. The building was used as a preschool between 1994 and 2000. Alterations made during this phase included the removal of pews and from the chapel space and the demolition of the stage area in the recreation hall. The steep stairs to the projection room were removed at an unknown date.
Between January and September 2001, the building was rehabilitated for use as a reception center. Alterations to the exterior were minor. Most were designed to restore the historic integrity of the building. The window-blocking brickwork from the south elevation was removed and a new stained glass window was installed in the original wood sash. Stained glass was also installed in several panes of the gothic windows on the west elevation, and the windows on the tower. The original entry doors in the tower were rehabilitated. New wood doors (designed with six panels similar to the tower doors) were installed on the south and west elevation entrances. All brick, sandstone and concrete was cleaned and repaired. The exterior metal stairs were removed. A new glass entrance was created on the north elevation where the original stage entrance and loading doors were located. Handicap access ramps were created on the south and north elevation, and also at a new basement entrance in the southwest corner of the building. A new cast concrete balustrade was created for the tower balcony and the southeast entrance. The exterior work has restored many of the lost historic features of the building.
On the interior, all 1958 and subsequent finishes were removed. The chapel and recreation hall were rehabilitated for use as reception hall (west and east halls respectively). The west hall (chapel) and annex rooms were given new paint, carpet and contrasting woodwork in the Victorian Eclectic style. A new staircase (designed with a lathe-turn balustrade similar in style to the original 1903 podium) was built at the north end. The east hall (recreation hall) is simpler in design with a rough stucco finish and a hanging lattice of flowers under the ceiling. Alterations to this area include partition walls at the south end and a new staircase on the west wall. The south foyer staircase (1938) was also rebuilt with a marble and wood mantelpiece installed in the foyer area. The west foyer was left intact with new finishes. A chair lift was installed in the corridor. The existing kitchen and bathrooms were upgraded. Existing classrooms were converted to bride’s rooms, office space and meeting rooms. The basement was refinished for use as meeting rooms, storage and a floral shop. All interior work was sensitive to and compatible with the original historic features of the building while addressing issues such as code compliance, egress, access and a new community-based usage.
The building faces south on a one-acre parcel of land. An additional parcel is used for parking to the east. A third parcel (to the north and east) was recently acquired by the current owner and will also be used for parking. A small brick utility shed (non-contributing circa 1980) sits on the northeast corner of the original parcel. The property is on the corner of 300 North and 200 West, with sidewalks and grassy parking strips along the streets. There are mature trees on all the landscaped portions of the property with sidewalks leading to the primary entrances. A number of shrubs and other plants are located at the base of the building. Exterior lighting, stone retaining walls and patio space was part of the landscape upgrades included in the adaptive reuse. The property is located in a hilly residential neighborhood just north of American Fork’s historic downtown. There is a mix of housing stock ranging from early adobe settlement homes (1870s & 1880s) to very recent residential construction. The American Fork Third Ward is in excellent condition and is a contributing historic resource of the neighborhood.
The First National Bank of Layton, built in phases between 1905 and 1945, is a one-part commercial block in the Victorian Eclectic style. The bank building is significant under Criteria A arid C for its association with the development of Layton, and for its association with Davis County’s most prominent and prolific architect at the turn of the century, William Allen. In 1905, the First National Bank was the third bank to be established in Davis County and during 2005 celebrated its centennial as the oldest continually operating business in Layton. For a century, the bank has been an integral part of the Layton City and Davis County economies. The bank building includes a 1915-1916 expansion, which provided office space for the Layton Sugar Company, the area’s largest employer at the time. During the 1940s, the bank building expanded again mainly due to the rise in population associated with the development of Hill Air Force Base (Hill Field). Between 1905 and 1916, the bank building was designed, constructed and expanded by Davis County’s most respected architect, William Allen. William Allen began his career as a brick mason and ended it as a contractor and self-taught architect. He was among the first architects licensed by the State of Utah, and the only licensed architect in Davis County for many years. Of Allen’s over one-hundred documented works, six are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and another is pending. The First National Bank of Layton is a contributing historic resource in Layton, Utah.
Located at 50 West Gentile Street in Layton, Utah and added to the National Historic Register (#06000232) April 5, 2006.
Layton, Davis County’s largest city, was originally an outgrowth of Kaysville, a Mormon pioneer town first settled in 1854. By 1886, a separate precinct and post office were located in a small business center north of Kaysville. The community was named Layton, for Christopher Layton, a prominent early settler of the area. In 1902, the community of Layton legally severed the ties with Kaysville and became an unincorporated area. With a population of 500, Layton was incorporated as a third-class town in 1920. In 1950, after a decade-long boom period which accompanied the development Hill Air Force Base, the population reached 3,456 and Layton was declared a third-class city.
Layton’s historic business district is clustered near the intersection of Gentile Street and Main Street, which for many years paralleled the track of the original Utah Central Railroad (the tracks were removed in 1953). The Layton business district was also serviced by the Oregon Short Line (later Union Pacific, 1912-present) on the west side of town and the Bamberger Electric Railway (1906-1952, later obliterated by Interstate 15) east of the commercial district. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Layton’s business district included two general stores, a meat market, saloon, coal dealer, blacksmith shop, barber shop, hotel, and the Layton Milling and Elevator Company, which in 1903 shipped more flour than any other Utah mill. Through the first half of the twentieth century, the economy was predominantly agricultural. The most important cash crops were alfalfa, grain, onions, and potatoes. A cannery was built to process tomatoes and peas, and a factory was established in 1915 to process sugar beets. The business district was the support and shipping center for products of Layton fanners.
The First National Bank of Layton was established in 1905. At the time it was only the third bank in Davis County, and one of only two national banks that were established that year. The Layton Bank was established during a period of banking expansion that followed the depression years of the mid-1890s. The bank required a $20,000 minimum of capital in order to comply with Utah’s 1888 Banking Act. The original thirty-nine stockholders raised $25,000 (250 shares of $100). Most of the stockholders lived in Layton with a few living in the nearby communities of Ogden, Kaysville, Plain City and Syracuse. Among the stockholders were several prominent members of the Ellison family, whose descendants own the original bank building. The first officers of the bank were James Pingree, President; E. P. (Ephraim Peter) Ellison, Vice-President; Rufus Adams, Vice President; James E. Ellison, Cashier; and Laurence E. Ellison, Assistant Cashier.
The bank officials selected Kaysville architect, William Allen, to draw up plans for the new bank building. William Allen had designed E. P. Ellison’s Farmers Union store in 1892. The bank was built on land across the street from the store at the corner of Main and Gentile Streets. The land was originally patented to Thomas Sandall in 1875, but was not purchased by the bank until 1911. The one-story brick building first opened its doors for business on May 15, 1905. On October 20 and 21, 1906, an east wind blew through northern Davis County causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. Among the casualties of the disaster was the Layton Bank Building, which was “completely destroyed roof and walls.” An examination of the building concluded that the “violent wind blew in the bank’s east window, creating intense internal air pressure, which caused the front brick wall to explode onto Gentile Street.”
The bank moved its operations temporarily to the Farmers Union Store, while William Allen redesigned the bank. Though the disaster had occurred just eighteen months after the bank’s opening, the board of directors was determined to persevere. The Davis County Clipper reported on the first annual meeting after the windstorm stating “No quarterly dividend was declared, probably, it had been paid to the east wind that blew the bank building down. It is thought that it will probably take another quarterly dividend to pay for the damage done by the wind.” Another article in the Davis County Clipper described the construction enhancements of the new building: “The Layton bank which is being rebuilt is as strong physically as the Bank of England is financially. Iron anchors, several feet long, were placed in the walls and other irons were put between the courses of brick in such a way as to hold the building together.”
The bank moved from the store back into the new building in the spring of 1907. In October of that year, two burglars broke into the bank vault, but were unable to open the safe where the money was kept. A second attempt in May 1910 was also unsuccessful. By that time, the Layton Bank had a time-locked safe. Frustrated in their attempt, the two thieves locked cashier, Laurence Ellison and night-watchman, Hyrum Evans, in the vault. Ellison and Evans managed to escape and the would-be robbers were apprehended. Laurence Ellison, who had been promoted to Cashier after his brother James left, was the bank’s lone employee, until he was joined by Vird Cook in 1913. Vird Cook, who was nineteen at the time, spent the next forty-six years working in the bank. By 1914, the assets of the bank had grown to $187, 907. During its first decade, the Layton Bank’s stockholders and customers included most of the business owners and farmers of Layton.
Agriculture had been the economic base of Layton since the pioneer era, but by the 1890s many farmers were beginning to specialize. In particular, the sugar beet was an important cash crop in northern Davis County, with many thousands of tons of sugar beets shipped to sugar plants in Lehi, Utah, and later Ogden, Utah. In 1913, Kaysville-Layton area farmers and businessmen organized the Layton Sugar Company in 1913. The company was incorporated in 1915, with E. P. Ellison as one of the founders. By the fall of 1915, the Dyer Construction Company had completed a $500,000 sugar plant on a forty-eight-acre site near the Denver & Rio Grande tracks in west Layton. The first year the plant processed 25,000 tons of beets from farms in Kaysville and Layton. In the next two years, the output doubled. The factory employed approximately 300 men working round-the-clock shifts. James E. Ellison served as manager and president of the company.
On August 25, 1915, the minutes of the First National Bank of Layton record that a committee was organized to “investigate the feasibility of remodeling the bank building and making an addition thereto to be rented to the Layton Sugar Company.” In September, the bank board approved plans for the addition and a charge of $60 per month rent to be paid by the Layton Sugar Company. William Allen was again chosen as architect for the addition and remodeling. The Davis County Clipper reported that expanded bank would have several objectives: “to furnish a larger home for the bank, provide offices for the sugar company as well as for professional men, etc.” 10 The newspaper continued to monitor the progress of the building. According to one report the contractors, Hyde and Sheffield, “have employed all the bricklayers in Davis County that they could get and some few from the outside” for the bank building and another project. As the construction neared completion in January 1916, the Clipper published the following glowing report: “The brickwork on the First National Bank addition is completed and the new metal cornice is in place. The metal cornice was placed on the old building so as to make it harmonize perfectly with the new. The cement trimming about the door and windows gives it a massive and attractive appearance. The mason work has also been done with skill. The building is certainly a credit to Architect Allen.”
The Layton Bank weathered difficult times through the 1920s, including a successful robbery in 1920 in which the robbers made off with several thousand dollars in war bonds. In 1924, the bank installed the security alarm box still extant on the south elevation. Utah experienced several years of depression even before the stock market crash of 1929. However, the First National Bank of Layton thrived, most likely because it had several large depositors, including the sugar company and the Davis and Weber Counties Canal Companies, in addition to its community customers. The bank hired several bookkeepers, including its first women employees, Beth Green and Norma Underwood. In 1922, the Kaysville Weekly Reflex printed this description of the bank’s operations: “The bank does a business extending over the state of Utah and into Nevada and Canada, where Layton people have large interests” 13 In the 1930s, the old system of banks issuing currency was abandoned, and today the few surviving First National Bank of Layton notes are held by collectors. The 1939 remodeling of the bank’s interior utilized the popular Art Deco style of the period. That same year, the decision to build an air depot near Ogden would greatly impact the economy of Layton.
The bulk of the Hill Field base was within Davis County with Layton as the closest established community to the base’s main gate. The base was operational by November 1940, and even before the United States’ entrance into World War II, the economy of Layton was booming. Although the bank benefited from proximity of the base; with so many employed in war-related services, the bank had difficulty finding employees. The Layton Bank even changed its hours to accommodate paydays for Hill Field employees. In 1941, Laurence E. Ellison was elected president of the Utah Bankers’ Association. The bank began planning to expand its facilities and build a new vault in 1944, but wartime shortages of materials postponed the project. Though the exterior of the expansion was almost complete in October 1945, the interior work was not completed until 1946. The addition and remodeling included a new bank vault, new safe deposit boxes, a paneled boardroom, kitchenette and restrooms. The addition also doubled the size of the sugar company offices. When the Layton Sugar Company went out of business in 1959, and the bank operations took over the entire building.
In the post World War II years, the First National Bank of Layton became an even more integral part of the economic community. The bank was one of the first in Davis County to offer loans guaranteed under the G.I. Bill. Many important businesses were started with loans from the Layton Bank. One example was Rufus C. Willey of Syracuse, who was a bank customer and founder of the R.C. Willey Company, today Utah’s largest furniture and appliance retailer. Through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the bank continued to upgrade and modernize. A night depository box was first installed in 1954. The glass vestibule was installed in the 1970s. In 1981, the bank moved across the street to the restored Farmers Union Building, where it currently conducts business. During the move, the marble teller stations and the vault were also moved. The L.E. Ellison Family Company purchased the building in 1985. In the 1980s and 1990s, the building was used for a variety of businesses including a print shop, coffee house, computer store, bridal & photography, beauty salon, and most recently, a jewelry store. The building has been vacant since 2003.
The First National Bank of Layton, built in four phases between 1905 and 1945, is a one-part commercial block, located at 50 West Gentile Street in Layton, Utah. The building is brick masonry with stone and concrete foundations. The current roof is flat and built-up. The original bank building, a one-part Victorian-style commercial block with an angled entrance, was constructed in 1905. In October 1906, the building was partially destroyed by a windstorm. Between 1906 and 1907, the bank building was rebuilt using the surviving stone foundation and two brick walls. Most of the Victorian elements of the 1905 building were replicated during the 1906-1907 reconstruction, but the parapet was built higher and other modifications were made. In 1915, the bank building was expanded to the east and a new entrance was built flush with the south elevation and featured stylized classical elements. In 1945, the building was expanded to the east and in the rear, creating a wedge-shaped east elevation that followed the line of Layton’s Main Street. The interior of the bank has been remodeled several times, with the extant finishes dating from 1939 to the 1980s. The bank building has been vacant since 2003.
The original 1905 building measured approximately forty-three by twenty-two feet. The longest elevation faced south onto Gentile Street with the shorter end on Main Street. The main entrance was angled and faced southeast toward the intersection. 1 The foundation was rock-faced sandstone. The face brick was laid in a stretcher bond. There was a corbelled brick base with a sandstone stringcourse, which also served as the sill. Historic photographs show the south elevation divided into two bays by brick pilasters. Each bay featured a large plate-glass window with several courses of segmental-arched rowlock brick. A decorative stringcourse highlighted the arched windows. A similar bay was on the east elevation. The angled entrance featured stone steps, double wood-sash doors, with transoms and a segmental-arched hood. Above the fenestration were three corbelled brick courses and a brick parapet with a metal cornice. A decorative block with the date “1905” was above the entrance. The west elevation had a small window near the south end (now filled-in), but otherwise the west and north elevations were blank. On October 20-21,1906, a windstorm blew in the east window creating a vacuum, which caused the roof to collapse and the south elevation to explode. Between late 1906 and 1907, the bank building was rebuilt using the original foundation and surviving north and west walls. The rebuilt structure was similar in design to the original, but featured a much higher and stronger parapet. The new parapet was completely brick and featured a dog-tooth course above the original corbelling. The brick masonry was reinforced with iron bars and anchors. The sloped roof was reinforced as well.
Between 1915 and 1916, an L-shaped addition was constructed effectively expanding the building twenty feet to the north and twenty-five feet to the east. The addition created a south facing entrance and an extra bay to the east. The addition was designed by the same architect-builder as the original building, and the brickwork is nearly identical. The main difference between the old and new bays is the use of concrete for the foundation and sills, rather than stone, and vents in the dogtooth course. The new steps are also concrete. The new entrance features a slightly projecting surround of cast concrete. The flanking pilasters were banded, as were a dividing mullion and pilasters (with capitals) in the slightly recessed double doors (the mullion was removed in the 1970s). Above the arched opening is a cast concrete panel with the words “First National Bank.” These elements give the building’s entrance a stylized classical appearance. The brick parapet was also enlarged in 1915-1916, and with accent block appeared as a classical balustrade. The date “1905” is in a block above the main entrance.
The building was expanded again in 1945-1946. During this phase the east elevation was demolished and the façade was expanded by another bay, which replicated the 1915-1916 addition. A similar, but smaller bay faces east. The remainder of the east elevation addition angles to the northwest along the line of Main Street. The angled wall is constructed of brick on a concrete foundation and features a geometric design of corbelled brickwork. The parapet is plain and has been used as a signboard. There is a simple metal coping along the parapet. The brickwork for the north elevation addition is similar. There are windows (now filled with glass block, date unknown) in the north and west corners of the building, but no other openings. The different building phases are best discerned on the west elevation where the joints between additions are visible. There is a double-door service entrance in the center of the west elevation (probably 1980s). Other modifications to the exterior include the installation of an interior alarm box (circa 1924, south elevation), exterior paint (white in the 1960s and currently tan with darker tan and gold accents), and the removal of the double entrance doors to provide a single glass door into a vestibule (circa 1970s).
The interior of the building has been remodeled several times. The original 1906-1907 interior featured a marble lobby with a pressed-tin ceiling. The vault was built out in the northwest corner. During the 1915-1916 expansion the lobby was not altered but additional vault and office space was added to the rear. The addition included office space for the local sugar company to the east, which had its own vault. In 1939, a major interior remodeling included the removal of the original ceiling and a change to the teller cages. The 1939 interior remodeling had some elements of the Art Deco-style. 2 Further remodeling accompanied the 1945-1946 addition. The banking space was expanded to include the 1915-1916 spaces and the vault was moved to the rear. Decorative plaster work was added to the ceiling and walls of the main banking space (extant). The rear addition included an upper-story accessed by a central closed stair. The rear addition has three rooms (currently finishes from the 1980s) and parts of the 1915-1916 building exterior are visible on the south walls. On the main floor, a wood-paneled board room was installed (extant although slightly damaged). In the northwest corner a kitchenette and restrooms were installed (extant). The glass vestibule was installed in the 1970s and a night depository box was added. There is a wall-mounted safe near the vestibule (date unknown, possibly 1980s). The marble teller counter and the vault doors were relocated to the Farmers’ Union Building (listed on the National Register in November 1978) across the street when the bank moved its operations there in 1981. In the bank area, many of 1939-1946 features and finishes have survived. To the east, where the offices were located, most of the current interior finishes date from the 1980s after the bank moved out.
The First National Bank of Layton sits on a wedge-shaped parcel of 0.1779 acres. It is located at the angled corner of Main Street and Gentile Street. There is a sidewalk and planters on Gentile Street, but only a sidewalk on Main Street. A narrow pedestrian alley is located between the bank and the historic building to the west.
There is a small asphalt parking area in the rear (against the north elevation). The bank is one of several historic buildings located in downtown Layton, but most, with the exception of the Farmers Union Building and one general store, have been altered. The First National Bank is in good condition and contributes to the historic resources of Layton, Utah.