Middleton was settled in 1863 in what is now part of St George, Utah.
Middleton Drive and Middleton Park still reflect the name.
The Hurricane Historic District is locally significant, both architecturally and historically, because it represents the social, economic, and architectural history of Hurricane, Utah. The district is significant under Criterion C for its concentration of intact examples of residential and commercial buildings that were built during each major construction period of the community’s early history, from the town’s founding in 1906 through 1940. The district accurately represents the full range of architectural styles, types, and construction materials found in Hurricane. The district is also significant under Criterion A for its representation of early agricultural family settlement patterns and local community growth. Hurricane experienced steady expansion as an agrarian community after the Hurricane Canal provided crop irrigation for new residents in 1904. The town continued to develop as an agricultural settlement until the beginning of World War II.
Roughly bounded by 300 South, 200 West, State St. and the Hurricane Canal.
Hurricane is located in the southwest corner of Utah, 18 miles northeast of St. George, the county seat and largest city in the region. The town contains a population of approximately 4,500 people, and is built upon a grid of five acre blocks separated by wide streets. The Hurricane Historic District is located in the center of town and contains a variety of buildings from three primary building phases: 1906- 1920, 1920-1940, and 1945-present. The district covers an area of approximately twelve square blocks, with 121 primary buildings and 24 outbuildings. Of these, 66 of the buildings and 15 of the outbuildings contribute to the historic character of the district. Although out-of-period structures are found throughout the area, the district retains its overall historic feeling and association.
Commercial buildings dominate the core of the district along Main Street, with houses radiating into the surrounding blocks. Though each block is divided into four lots, most blocks contain 12-15 houses, with moderate front yards and varying set-backs. Residential blocks are characterized by open interiors, where a number of outbuildings are located. The oldest houses are located on corner lots. An abundance of mature trees, especially oak, fruit, and nut varieties, line the residential streets. Sandstone gutters are found on the east side of Main Street between 200 South and 300 South; elsewhere the gutters are concrete or nonexistent. Sidewalks are found only in front of the commercial buildings on Main Street, where the buildings are joined to each other and built flush with the sidewalk
The surrounding landscape of Hurricane is characterized by dramatic red and black rock outcroppings and scrubbrush. The natural landscape along the eastern boundary of the district consists of a rugged cliff that rises sharply for a distance of approximately 300 feet. The Hurricane Canal runs along the side of this ridge, which provides a distinctive visual boundary for the district. Two historic rock and concrete water cisterns (c. 1909) are located next to the canal at the north edge of the district boundaries.
Domestic structures within the Hurricane Historic District are primarily Victorian eclectic cross-wing houses, single-story Foursquare cottages, Bungalows, and Period Revival cottages that were built between 19068 and 1940. Later infill construction consists of post-WWII cottages and modern ranch houses. The houses are relatively small one or one-and-a-half story single family residences that contain little exterior embellishment. Detailing, where present, is usually subtle and of Greek Revival or Victorian eclectic style. The Victorian houses are characterized by asymmetrical facades, arched brick lintels over double-hung windows, and patterned wood shingles on gable roof ends. The Bungalows and Foursquare cottages are distinguished by low, hipped rooflines and simple, rectangular footprints. The Bungalows have large porches and wide overhanging eaves. Period Revival Cottages are characterized by picturesque irregular massing and decorative exterior materials. The post-WWII cottages are identified by simple, square plans and narrow eaves over hipped roofs. The long, rectangular ranch houses follow horizontal plans with elongated facades.
Red brick is the most common building material among all housing types, though several houses are constructed of frame. Approximately ten percent of the houses (both brick and frame) have been covered with stucco. Foundations of the earliest structures are sandstone, while the later buildings contain concrete foundations. The most common roofing material is asphalt shingle, a non-original material. Almost all of the houses contain frame or brick porches, most of which maintain their original appearance. Large picture windows are present in many of the houses, especially among the Bungalows, Foursquare cottages, and ranch houses
Among all houses in the district, the Victorian houses and Bungalows along Main Street retain the highest level of integrity. Newer buildings which are found throughout the district are compatible in scale and materials with the historic structures and do not overwhelm the character of the district.
Commercial & Public Buildings
Historic commercial buildings in the Hurricane Historic District are one-part or two-part block buildings, constructed from local brick between 1911 and 1922. Like the houses, these buildings exhibit minor stylistic characteristics which are predominantly Victorian eclectic. Modestly decorative brick patterns form a common detail element on the upper story of these early structures. Many of them have been covered in stucco. Large display windows and recessed entries are also recurrent. A later commercial building is the Spanish Colonial Revival style Dixie Hotel (c. 1925) which is located at 73 South Main.
Out-of-period commercial buildings within the district are similar in scale to the historic structures but exhibit modern signage and detailing. Brick veneer and aluminum and vinyl siding are the dominant exterior materials of these post-WWII buildings.
The Hurricane Historic District includes a concentration of public institutional buildings in two blocks along 100 West, between State Street and 100 South. Most of these are red brick PWA Moderne structures that were built in the 1930’s. The 1938 Hurricane City Hall/Library (35 West State) is surrounded by a town square and outdoor pioneer park museum. Three public schools (two contributing), an out-of-period gymnasium, and playgrounds are located within this complex.
A number of outbuildings, including barns, granaries, and sheds are found throughout the district. The block between 200-300 South, Main Street-100 East contains four contributing barns and two granaries, all of which probably date from the earliest years of the town’s history. Like the houses, most of the single-cell granaries are constructed of red brick, with gabled roofs. These granaries generally contain less than 200 square feet. The large frame barns are somewhat deteriorated but retain their historic integrity. Most barns contain two levels, with spaces for livestock on the main level and agricultural storage above.
Canal Building, 1893-1908
Early pioneers had occupied the region for many years before Hurricane was established. The nearby Virgin River valley, settled by Mormons in 1862, had become heavily overstocked and overgrazed by the late 19th century. Because most natural vegetation had been destroyed, spring rains and thaws created severe agricultural erosion problems for residents of the valley. Intense population growth in the 1870’s and 1880’s placed additional strain on available lands. By 1890, residents of the valley were desperate for additional agricultural property. They wanted to remain close to their families in Virgin, and looked to the Hurricane bench as a possibility for expansion. They believed the soil was highly fertile and would support crops if the land could be irrigated.
After several years of feasibility studies by various investors, an elaborate canal was built at the turn of the century. Over the first nine years of the project, few original stockholders remained. Financial difficulties troubled the enterprise, and it was near total failure in 1902. James Jepson, president of the Hurricane Canal Company, successfully lobbied officials at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) headquarters in Salt Lake City for intervention. They invested $5,000 into the project, which provided the needed capital to complete the canal. With irrigation underway, Hurricane quickly became known by locals as “Utah’s Fruit Basket,” renowned for its abundant vineyards, fruits, and nut orchards.
When more than 100 people gathered for a rally in August of 1904 to watch water flow into their new homeland, a story was told of an 1865 incident involving Mormon church leader Erastus Snow. Snow was travelling through the area when a sudden gust of wind blew the top off of his buggy. He exclaimed, “My, that was a hurricane! We’ll call this Hurricane hill.” The people at the rally cheered and decided to name their new town “Hurricane” (pronounced “Hurricun” by locals). Ironically, the area boasts of a mild climate throughout the year.
The town was surveyed in 1896, but the first permanent structures were not built until 1906. Earlier town residents lived in tents, dugouts, or granaries while they built permanent homes; few of these early structures remain.
Early Residential Growth. 1906-1930
Although Hurricane was founded several years later than most Utah communities,6 the town follows a tradition of early Mormon settlements, utilizing the characteristic layout of carefully planned, gridded streets. Agrarian families (mostly Mormon), settled on 1.25 acre plots that were assigned to them in return for investment in the Hurricane Canal Project. The Hurricane Canal Company assigned lots and approved building activity for the town, but retained title to all property until the mid-1910’s. The earliest permanent homes were located on corners, with the central portion of the blocks reserved for gardens, outbuildings, and small livestock. A number of these early agricultural structures remain. In addition to the residential lots, each investor received 20 acres of farmland outside the town.
Early families built houses of frame or brick, in Victorian or Bungalow styles. Few buildings were fashioned with ornate embellishment. The early residents of Hurricane adopted scaled-down versions of the contemporary architectural styles in Utah. A typical Hurricane adaptation to the Victorian house appears as a simple cross-wing plan, with modest wood porch and minor trim.
Local builders were responsible for most of the initial construction in Hurricane. F.T. Ashton, Christian Christensen, Alonzo Dalton, Jesse Lemmon, and John Stout were contractors in the 1910s. Early masons included Edward Cripps, J.H. Petty, and George Worthen. Amos Workman was the town surveyor for several years during Hurricane’s original development period.
Early Commercial Growth, 1908-1920
In response to flourishing agricultural growth, rapid commercial and economic expansion swept the area in the years soon after completion of the Hurricane Canal. Visitors to the area commented in 1909, “Hurricane, that thrifty new settlement, surely has made great progress during the year in building new homes, school house, hall and planting out thousands of fruit trees and vines.” The first local brick was produced in 1908. By 1913, Hurricane was furnished with four mercantile stores, an ice supply operation, a new planing mill, and long distance telephone service. Hurricane residents could buy food, fabric, hardware, building materials, and even caskets from Petty, DeMille, and Company, who boasted of having a “fine new building…the largest mercantile in the county.” In 1914, William Petty brought a movie theater to Hurricane, which was powered by natural gas. Three hotels were in existence by 1915, all of which were operated from private homes. That same year, Bert Woodbury opened an ice cream parlor, and Petty, DeMille, and Company installed the first automobile gasoline tank in front of their store on the corner of State and Main Streets. By 1916, Hurricane had a population of 750, with “substantial stores, a public school, flour mill, and several long distance telephone connections.” The first automobile garage and service station opened in 1920, and a bank was completed in 1922. Almost all of these early businesses operated within the boundaries of the proposed Hurricane Historic District; many of these buildings still stand.
Hurricane residents received confirmation of their newfound permanent status in 1913, when Dr. H.H. Wilkinson and his wife moved to town. Prior to this, all medical services were rendered by Myra H. Lemmon, a nurse and midwife. The H.H. Wilkinson House is located at the south end of the district, at 20 East 400 South.
Public Improvement Projects
Public improvement projects accompanied residential and commercial growth in Hurricane, especially after its incorporation in 1914. In 1907, Hurricane hired two teachers. The first local post office was established (c. 1907) by J.L. and Mary Workman, and a social hall (demolished) was built in 1908. The Hurricane Canal Company announced plans for an electric generating plant in October of 1915, hoping to have the town “lit up for Christmas.” Gravel street improvements also occurred in 1915. Hurricane residents installed a drinking water system in 1918, the same year a new school building (demolished) was completed for $32,000, enthusiastically financed through a town bond issue. Public sewers were first introduced in 1930. New Deal projects of the 1930’s brought about a second wave of public building activity. A new twelve-room schoolhouse was completed in 1935, and a city hall/library was built in 1938.
Characterized by a single road leading into and out of town, Hurricane was known as the “dead end street town” by residents of surrounding communities for many years. Hurricane residents, however, saw the potential economic value they could generate through tourism if a strategic highway was built that placed Hurricane on the major thoroughfare between the city of St. George, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon. For many years, town residents fervently petitioned the Utah State Legislature to build such a road. This request was finally honored as a Utah Works Progress Administration project in 1937, when a road was completed that linked Hurricane to the surrounding area. Since the completion of this road, consistent growth has occurred in the area surrounding the Hurricane Historic District. Today, Hurricane is experiencing intense growth pressure due to its proximity to St. George, one of the fastest growing communities in Utah. The area attracts retirees and others who are drawn to the mild climate and affordable cost of living. Current residents who are employed generally work in nearby St. George.
The Hurricane Historic District is an important historical resource because it represents the settlement and development of Hurricane, Utah. The district is locally significant because the buildings reflect the architectural and historical development of the town. The residences, commercial buildings, institutional structures, and outbuildings within the district provide a complete representation of a wide range of architectural styles and plans popular in the local region between 1900-1940.
The building to your left was originally built as a schoolhouse in 1880 in nearby Silver Reef. It also served in the mining boomtown as a place for community dances and other gatherings.
Soon after the schoolhouse was built, Silver Reef began to decline in population, and by the early 1900s the building was no longer in use. At that time, the building was divided into two parts and moved on logs pulled by horses along the road, 2 miles from Silver Reef to its present site in Leeds. For more than five decades, until 1956, it served as the Leeds Schoolhouse. During most of that time, its two classrooms housed students in eight different grades.
After the school closed, the building was leased to and used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a recreation center. Eventually it was remodeled and turned into a town hall and community gathering place for Leeds. The old school was reroofed and the small porch on the original building was expanded across the full length of the new town hall’s front.
LEEDS PEACHES: DID YOU KNOW? In the 30s, 40s, and 50s when the peach farming was booming in Leeds, peaches from the community were shipped throughout the West via rail from Cedar City. The local people working in the orchards and packing the bushel baskets with ripening peaches became curious about the cost consumer’s were paying for their peaches. So they began writing notes in the bottom of the baskets asking for people to write them back and let them know what they were paying. It was common to receive replies from as far away as Texas and Michigan. Compliments about how good the peaches tasted were often included with the replies.
There are two historic markers out front:
Located at 218 North Main Street in Leeds, Utah.
Hurricane Library/City Hall
This building was constructed in 1938-40 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The WPA was one of several New Deal programs designed to stimulate economic recovery during the Great Depression while providing needed public services and facilities. Over 230 public works buildings were constructed in Utah; approximately half of them retain their architectural integrity.
This building housed the city offices, library, police, and Hurricane Canal Company until the mid-1980s. The city then made it available to the Hurricane Valley Pioneer Heritage Foundation to develop as a museum.
The structure is built chiefly of hand-hewn sandstone that was quarried by construction workers from the banks of Berry Springs, about six miles west of Hurricane. The original estimated cost of construction was $22,300, but as the material cost was greatly reduced, the city was obligated to pay only $7,000.
Hurricane had its humble beginning in the year 1906 with the coming of eleven families to establish their homes. These first settlers were the families of T. Maurice Hinton, Ira E. Bradshaw, Anthony Jepson, Thomas Isom, Bernard Hinton, Erastus Lee, Jacob Workman, Amos Workman, Nephi Workman, and Frank Ashton. However, the story of our city cannot be told without looking back to Palmyra, New York, where a new church was organized on April 6, 1830. These people (our forebearers) became known as Mormons. Because of “peculiar” beliefs and a new book of scripture brought forth and translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, they were severely persecuted and mobbed. Being driven from state to state they finally ended up in Nauvoo, Illinois, their last stronghold in the United States at that time.
On June 27, 1844, a mob with blackened faces killed the Prophet. Hatred and malice steadily increased and by February, 1846, it was evident our people must flee again. Brigham Young, an apostle, now became the leader and gave orders for a mass exodus to begin. On solid ice the first wagons rolled across the Mississippi River toward an unknown land in the Rocky Mountains. Without shelter and being exposed to the bitter weather, many people died while others suffered greatly.
Brigham Young, with the first company of exiles, entered the Great Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. The next twenty years saw numerous covered wagon trains and hand-cart companies crossing the plains of mid-America. Many converts came from Europe to join the exodus. From 1846 to 1866 nearly 80,000 made the trek to Utah, and over 6,000 others were buried along the 1,300 mile trail.
Being so far from civilization the new Mormon empire must now become self-sufficient. Exploration parties were sent far and wide to find suitable places to colonize. This area became known as Utah’s Dixie because of its semi-tropical climate. During the Civil War cotton was desperately needed so the church leaders called families to come south to settle and raise cotton and other crops which could best be grown in this warm climate. With the coming of the railroad and establishment of peace with the U.S. Government, the need for the cotton industry gradually subsided.
The Virgin River Basin was now left with many little towns struggling for survival. Malaria fever, isolation and a turbulent, unconquerable river contributed to the extreme hardships. Large families and lack of land prompted the faint hearted to move elsewhere.
Our town was the last pioneer settlement of this area. Up to this time, the arid land, without water for irrigation, had little value. The conception and building of the Hurricane Canal is the real story of Hurricane. Bringing water from the deep Virgin River Gorge to the Hurricane Bench, through a canal, was dreamed about for many years. Most thought it impossible. There were some, however, with the necessary faith and tenacity to believe it could be done, who set out to fulfill their dreams. With handtools and dynamite our pioneers labored for twelve long years carving the 12-mile channel that would give life-blood to the valley. The canal, stretching hundreds of feet above the canyon floor, passing through ten tunnels of solid rock and over five trestled flumes, looms on the south side of the Virgin River Gorge. It is literally etched into a mountainside of pervious material. Only God and man’s constant vigil has sustained it there.
Our town was incorprated in 1912. Thanks be to God for these stalwart, dedicated, hard-working and religious people – the pioneers of Hurricane.
This is S.U.P. Marker #23-C, see other S.U.P. Markers here.
Late in the year 1861 there arrived in this area 308 families assigned by Brigham Young and other leaders of the Mormon Church for the purpose of raising cotton and other tropical plants, previous experimentation at Washington, to the east of the black ridge, and at Bloomington at the bottom of the west black ridge had proved that cotton could mature. This group of hardy pioneers arrived during what was known as the winter of the big rain, towns on the streams were damaged and farmlands on the bank were washed away, there was no immediate damage to this area however.
Irrigation and culinary water was provided from springs located at each end of this red hill.
The people drew for lots and on Jan. 23, 1862 they moved onto them from their tent city east of Dixie College.
This historic marker was erected overlooking the city of St George in 1984.