This building was formerly the General Warehouse for Z.C.M.I.,
it was built in 1905 and has now been renovated by Artspace into commercial on the south side and 18 townhomes on the north side.
It is located at 230 S 500 W in Salt Lake City, Utah
The Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution was organized in December 1868 under the direction of Brigham Young, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church).
Since the initial settlement in 1847, the Mormon pioneers had lived for the most part as an isolated community. The discovery of valuable ores in the canyons near Salt Lake City in the early 1860s and the arrival of the
transcontinental railroad were perceived as a threat to the peace and prosperity of the Mormon settlers. Despite a number of self-sufficiency polices, such as encouraging “home manufactures,” the number of non-Mormon merchants grew. By the 1860s, most merchandizing was in the hands of non-Mormons because of the stigma attached to “profiteering Saints” and the inability of Mormon merchants to refuse credit or collect debt from fellow Mormons. Following the example of successful cooperatives in Brigham City and other settlements, Brigham Young and a group of church leaders organized the ZCMI in order “to bring goods here and sell them as low as they can possibly be sold and let the profits be divided with the people at large.”
The ZCMI eventually became a chain of mercantile cooperatives that included approximately 150 retail co-ops.
Salt Lake City was chosen to be the location of the wholesale distribution center. The center would develop an integrated marketing and distribution system, which had the responsibility to supply and distribute products to
the outlying settlements. ZCMI stocked a variety of goods, including wagons, machinery, furniture, carpets, clothing, shoes, sewing machines, household items, dry goods and groceries all available to member co-ops for the same price as they were in Salt Lake City.
ZCMI, the “Parent Store,” was an immediate success. Within a few years, it had a near-monopoly on the wholesale trade in the territory and much of the retail trade in Salt Lake City. The company built a grand retail
store for its consolidated departments at 13-31 South Main Street in 1876. The building, often considered “America’s First Department Store,” was expanded and doubled in size in 1880. ZCMI also built a tannery, a boot and shoe factory, and a clothing factory, the products of which were distributed through its retail and wholesale outlets.
ZCMI, itself, was never a true cooperative, and though it retained a strong presence in Salt Lake City, as the population of outlying settlements grew, the cooperative movement became less popular. A secularization of
mercantilism and trade took place in the 1880s and 1890s with many of the local co-ops closing. Many Mormon-owned stores throughout Utah continued to call themselves co-ops and did much of their wholesale
purchasing through ZCMI, but from-the-pulpit church-sponsored support of the company gradually diminished. Traditional loyalties continued to bring church members into the store, but in the twentieth century, ZCMI became increasingly more commercialized with an aggressive advertising budget and an obligation to its stockholders, rather than the “community of Saints” at large. 5 On September 30, 1895, the Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution was reorganized as a million-dollar corporation. The ZCMI General Warehouse was built during this period of secularization and commercialization.
In 1902, ZCMI purchased Lot 7, Block 63, of Salt Lake’s Plat A from Elizabeth Davis Ayrton. Elizabeth was born in Wales in 1837 and married William Ayrton in Salt Lake in 1868. The couple built an adobe house in the center of Lot 7. William Ayrton died September 15, 1902 and Elizabeth sold the lot to ZCMI on October 8, 1902, ZCMI granted Elizabeth Ayrton a “term of life” lease and built a brick cottage at the northeast corner (222 South 500 West) of the lot to replace the adobe home demolished to build the warehouse. The brick cottage was demolished sometime between Elizabeth’s death on February 5,1915 and 1925. The lease was terminated on January 15, 1929.
The 1898 Sanborn map shows the neighborhood as still mostly residential with a number of adobe, frame and brick homes. A few small stores and a couple of modest hotels were nearby. However, the map also shows the
neighborhood in transition. The Utah Central Railroad had a line down the center of 500 West (formerly known as 4th West) and the Rio Grande had spurs on 600 West (formerly 5th West). One spur curved from 600 West
into the center Lot 4 stopping at the west end of the Ayrton property. This spur was labeled “track not used” on the 1898 map. By the time of the 1911 map, the spur was servicing three brick warehouses: the rear dock of the
J. L. Case Implement Warehouse on 600 West, the north elevation of the Security General Storage Warehouse, and the interior of the ZCMI General Warehouse.
There was no building permit found for the ZCMI General Warehouse. Salt Lake County tax records give the construction date as 1904. Historian Martha S. Bradley, in her history of ZCMI, describes one of the company’s warehouses on Salt Lake’s west side: “The warehouse for the wholesale grocery department had three acres of floor space. The noise of the trains pulling out of the neighboring Denver & Rio Grande depot shook the upper windows of this new structure, which had been built for $35,000 in April 1905.”6 While “three acres” may be a small exaggeration, the rest of the description fits the ZCMI General Warehouse, which was a stone’s throw from the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway Depot, built in 1910. The ZCMI warehouse was photographed on December 18, 1907. The photograph shows the west elevation with a fleet of horsedrawn wagons at the loading docks and a boxcar on each set of rails. Twenty-two men, probably the
warehouse’s entire workforce, also posed for the photograph.
The warehouse does not appear in the Salt Lake City directories until 1925 when residences and businesses were cross-referenced by address. The building is listed at 230 South Fourth West simply as “ZCMI warehouse”. In 1927, the listing changed to “Zion’s Wholesale Grocery”, possibly a subsidiary of ZCMI since the company retained ownership of the property. The difference may have been mainly a movement of administrative services to the warehouse site as indicated by the construction of the 1926 addition and a new listing for the property as both office and warehouse for the company. A Salt Lake City building permit issued on May 28, 1926, for the construction of the two-story brick addition gave an estimated cost of $10,000 and listed the builder as the Jacobsen Construction Company, a firm still in business today. An advertisement for Zion’s Wholesale Grocery noted the business had branches in Provo (Utah), Pocatello and Idaho Falls (Idaho). The products available were “Staple and Fancy Groceries, Stationery and School Supplies, Office and Store Supplies, Paper Bags, Wrapping Paper, Store Display Fixtures, Etc.”
Zion’s Wholesale Grocery only stayed at that location two years. The Security Storage and Commission Company had moved from a nearby warehouse to the west (236 S. Woodbine [earlier Storage] Avenue) to the
ZMCI property by the 1929 directory printing. ZCMFs sale of the property to the Security Storage and Commission Company was finalized on January 3, 1930. The same day ZCMI was granted a mortgage on the property worth $59,583. The Zion’s Wholesale Grocery moved to 40 S. 300 West (demolished 1980s?). A furniture factory took over the storage company’s former warehouse.
The sale of the warehouse may have been a response to the economic downturn that followed the stock market crash in October 1929. In an annual report submitted to stockholders in April 1931, ZCMI president, Heber J. Grant, acknowledged “The severe business depression, which has affected practically all types of industries, naturally, has seriously affected the business of your company during the [previous] year.” Grant continues by stating “The operations of the company were carried on at considerably less expense than for the previous year, but this reduction did not compensate for inventory losses and reduction in earning from reduced volume.” He concludes by saying “Conditions within the company are improving . . . Expenses are being reduced.” The sale of the warehouse on 500 West may have been one of the reductions to which Grant was referring.
Another reason for the sale may have been the transition from horse-drawn wagons to trucks that most industries, including ZCMI, experienced during the 1920s and 1930s. ZCMI had a compound of stables near 400 South and 500 West, just south of the General Warehouse. By the early 1920s, the compound was converted to a garage for the company’s fleet of delivery trucks. The General Warehouse was designed specifically for rail and wagon freight operations, and ZCMI officers may have felt the building could not be adapted.
ZCMI remained in the grocery business until the 1950s. In January 1960, the company discontinued all of its wholesale divisions completely to concentrate on the retail market. During the 1960s and 1970s, the company
built a new store in downtown Salt Lake; a new service center to consolidate all office, warehouse and service departments under one roof; two stores in Salt Lake suburban malls; and stores in Orem, Ogden and Logan. During this time, the LDS Church retained fifty-one percent of stock in the company until December 1999 when the department store chain was sold to Meier and Frank.
The Security Storage and Commission Company was one of twelve commercial storage companies operating in Salt Lake City in the 1930s. Nine were located west of the downtown commercial district. The Security
Storage and Commission Company owned the property until 1985. The company was the sole user of the building through the 1930s and 1940s. Beginning in the 1950s, there were a variety of tenants in addition to the
Security Storage and Commission Company. There has also been some storage space in the building, but the names have changed. Security operated until the 1960s when it became the Watson Warehouse and Storage Company. Examples of co-tenants include wax manufacturers and machinists (1950s); food brokers and window distributors (1960s); food brokers and roofing equipment (1970s); computer installation and
playground equipment (1980s). In the 1980s, the building was known as the City Center Plaza and City Center Storage. The City Center Plaza Association, who bought the building in 1985, sold it to Bridges LP in 1997.
The ZCMI General Warehouse, built in 1905, is two-story warehouse constructed of brick masonry and heavy timbers. There is a two-story brick addition, built in 1926, on the north side of the east elevation. The warehouse is located at 230 S. 500 West in Salt Lake City’s west side industrial district. The 1905 building is set on a raised concrete foundation. The roof is has a fairly flat slope and has built-up roofing with existing historic skylights or visible historic locations. The primary architectural features of the building are the stepped parapets on the east and west elevation, brick pilasters dividing the thirteen bays of the north and south elevations, and the large opening for a former rail spur into the interior of the building on the west elevation. The 1926 office addition features multi-light metal sash windows and a decorative cast concrete surround for the front entrance. A rehabilitation of the building began in July 2005 as a federal and state rehabilitation tax credit project and is expected to be completed by Summer 2006. The former ZCMI General Warehouse is part of the Bridges redevelopment project and will be adapted for use as office space and artist studio-residences.
According to Martha S. Bradley, who wrote a history of the Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution (commonly known as ZCMI), the warehouse was completed in April 1905 at a cost of $35,000. The Salt Lake
County tax assessor’s card gives the year of construction as 1904 and the building was in use when photographed on December 18,1907. The brick addition can be dated to a Salt Lake City building permit for a “$10,000 two-story brick addition” issued on May 28, 1926 and construction was probably completed later that year. The original warehouse was constructed of commercial grade yellow-pink brick laid in American
(common) bond with headers at every sixth course. The addition was also constructed of brick masonry laid in a common bond. The warehouse and addition have been painted red, probably at the same time the addition
was built. A portion of the dock area (west bays of north elevation) under a canopy was never painted. The historic photograph indicates the building had three tall brick chimneys, but all have been shortened (date unknown, probably after 1970). There are two short chimneys with corbelled caps on the north and south elevations. Physical evidence suggests the building had several skylights. Only one is currently intact, and is pyramidal in shape with iron or steel sash.
The ZCMI General Warehouse is a wide rectangular building measuring 120 feet x 148 feet. The addition at the northeast corner measures 53 feet by 41 feet. The east and west elevations of the original building were similar with the exception of the rail spur opening. Both elevations feature a symmetrical corbelled parapet that steps to the north and south corners of the building. There is a metal penthouse for the freight elevator located
in the center of the roof. On the main level of both elevations are several large openings that resemble windows, but are used as loading dock doorways. The floor level above the raised basement allowed wagons to
be loaded directly from each opening. The openings each have a divided transom in a wood or metal sash and a three-course rowlock-brick relieving arch. The openings have been filled in by various materials (e.g., concrete
block, metal and wood) over the years. The second level features smaller metal or metal-clad wood windows with relieving arches and a divided sash. The sills are sandstone. There are also basement windows in the
scored concrete foundation with relieving arches of brick. There are six courses of projecting brick at the water table line. Most of the basement windows have security grilles. The most prominent feature of the west
elevation is the two-story rail car opening just north of the building’s center. The opening featured a wide relieving arch of brick, but it appears the double-rail opening was narrowed for one rail, probably in the 1940s,
when two storage structures were built on either side of the west elevation. These two structures, built in 1942 and 1946, were demolished circa 1980s. A newer overhead industrial-type door replaced the original “iron
rolling curtain” noted on the 1911 Sanborn map. There is a circa 1940s historic paneled door just north of the rail door opening. There are no existing docks on the west elevation.
The east elevation is the most altered. With the exception of the second level windows to south, the majority of windows on the east elevation were obscured by the addition of the 1926 office and the addition of a loading
dock (circa 1960). The dock has a concrete deck and an awning of wood. Though the original windows in the dock area have been bricked-in, the extant relieving arches indicate they were narrower than the openings on the west elevation and not used for a loading area. Two square openings and a door were cut in the wall when the dock was built. Modern signage was added, including the words “City Center Self Storage” in blue foam
lettering on a white background in the upper portion of the east elevation (circa 1980s). The 1926 addition, a two-story office block, is north of the dock area. The addition has a flat built-up roof and a metal coping on a
short parapet. The addition is built on a raised concrete foundation with a scored line in the center. The main entrance faces east with a set of concrete steps and a circa 1960s metal rail. The main entrance is under the
round arch of a cast concrete door surround with a keystone in the center. The surround is a modest Jacobethan Revival detail, but is the building’s only definable stylistic element. The door is a later replacement. There is a
secondary door from the dock area to the south (circa 1960). The windows on both levels are metal-sash, multipane windows with brick lintels and concrete sills. The main-level windows have been painted or filled in at
the top where a modern dropped ceiling intersected the historic windows (circa 1960s). The lintels of the upper windows are part of a stringcourse of brick (painted white). The foundation, door surround, lintels and sills are
also painted white. Modern signage for the “City Center Plaza” is located in a sign space (blue on white) at the top of the east elevation.
The south elevation is located along the south property line and is simply detailed. The south elevation is divided into thirteen bays by colossal brick pilasters, which taper at the top about a foot below the eave line. The south elevation has no doors but features rows of windows on all three levels. The small windows are similar to those found on the upper levels of the east and west elevations. Inexplicably, some of the bays do not have windows and some windows have no relieving arches. The visible foundation increases as the site slopes gently to the west. All the basement windows have security grilles, and a few of the upper windows are damaged or filled in.
The north elevation was the primary dock area and is divided into bays by pilasters similar to the south elevation. There was originally a dock along three-quarters of the elevation, but only a small section of the wooden platform is extant and is severely deteriorated. The dock is sheltered by the original sheet metal awning on brackets. The first bay on the east side appears to have multi-pane replacement window (circa 1930s). The next three bays have metal doors (possibly original). The remaining bays to the west have an individual “window” loading opening similar to those on the west elevation. A few of the openings appear to have original metal sliding doors; others have been altered or blocked. Most of the bays also have smaller windows on the second level. Each bay has a basement window as well. The east elevation of the 1926 addition has basement windows in addition to main and upper level windows similar to those on the east
elevation and north elevations. In the northwest corner is a tall window for lighting the stairwell.
On the interior, the 1905 warehouse has approximately 23,000 square feet of space, not counting the interior rail dock, which is open from the rail bed to the roof structure. The rails were removed at an unknown date
(probably 1970s). The two-story interior space is arranged U-shaped around the interior rail dock with brick firewalls separating each section. The walls are between three and five wythes thick, depending on the location.
The brick is laid in a common bond with headers varying from every fourth to every ninth course. Openings between the sections feature brick arches. The interior of the structure is supported on heavy timber posts, each
with a heavy timber shearhead or capital with tapering ends to support the beams. The beams are mock timbers, which consist of six 2 x 12s bolted together. The interior rail dock is below the main floor level with a wood
deck on the north side. Newer and wider openings with steel lintels were cut at an unknown date (probably after 1970) into the walls to augment the original arched openings from the rail dock to adjoining spaces.
The space on the south side of the rail dock is nearly twice as deep as that on the north side, and was used for storage. The space on the north side of the rail dock was probably designed to facilitate the movement of goods
directly from the rail cars to the wagon docks. An original freight elevator, still operable but substandard, is located in the center of the building south of the rail dock. The modest stair with its original wood handrail and
baluster is located to the east. The most extensive modification to the interior has been the addition of over 300 individual storage cubicles of plywood and chicken wire (recently removed). Other than these and other
utilitarian modifications, most of the original interior of the warehouse is intact. An early office partition by the freight elevator and bead board ceilings on the north side corner suggests there was finished office space in the original warehouse but any office walls, doors, etc. are no longer present. There may have been some original finished space in the northeast corner of the warehouse, but most of the finishing occurred after the corner
became the connecting point to the 1926 addition. There was also some later remodeling in the addition (circa 1960s-1980s). The basement is fully excavated and unfinished.
The 1926 addition has 2,173 square divided between the two floors. The interior features a lobby accessed from the southwest door, so probably added during the 1966 remodeling. The east entrance enters into a hallway
with offices on either side. There appear to be some historic moldings on the main floor. The stair is located on the north side and features a metal handrail and baluster. The several offices on the second floor are completely covered in 1960s paneling. Most of the other finishes, including lowered ceilings, date from that period.
Recent removal of lay-in ceilings, modern partitions, etc. has revealed interior timber columns with modestly detailed timber shearheads. There is little other detailed interior historic material.
The site is a 1.25-acre rectangular parcel. The ZCMI General Warehouse partially abuts the property lines to the south. There are asphalt-covered parking areas on the east and west sides. A chain link fence encloses
portions of the property. Two modern gates are located on 500 West. The driveway runs along the north side of the property. Another contemporary warehouse, which is within 43 feet of the rear elevation, may have been
associated with the ZCMI Warehouse in some capacity since they shared a loading platform (now demolished), but that building is on a separate parcel. There is no landscaping. The site slopes down gently from east to
west. There are several late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth century warehouses in the immediate neighborhood. There are also some recently constructed buildings in the area; particularly the modern four-story “Bridges” project built on the neighboring parcel at the corner of 200 South and 500 West. The neighborhood was once residential, but evolved as the city’s industrial and warehouse district after numerous rail lines were developed in the area in the late nineteenth century.
The adaptive reuse of the historic ZCMI General Warehouse is following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and the proposed rehabilitation has received preliminary approval from the National Park Service. The project will include cleaning, repairing and repainting the exterior brick masonry. Extant original doors, windows and skylights will be refurbished or replaced with elements similar to the originals. The individual loading and storage bays and the 1926 addition will be divided into multi-level artist living areas and studios. Each apartment will have an entrance though existing openings. The interior rail dock will be retained and used as an atrium space for the residents. Office space will be designed for the large southern portion of the building. The non-historic east loading dock will be simplified and the missing historic north dock reconstructed. The freight elevator cannot be updated and will be replaced with a passenger elevator in the same location. Some historic features, such as the exposed interior masonry walls, metal-clad fire doors and the simple, decoratively detailed timber capital blocks in the 1926 addition will be retained and refurbished.
The rehabilitation is scheduled for completion in 2006 and the building documentation for this nomination will be revised once these changes have occurred. The ZCMI General Warehouse is an important contributing
historic resource in Salt Lake’s industrial west side downtown neighborhood.
The ZCMI General Warehouse, built in 1905 with a two-story brick addition built in 1926, is historically significant under Criterion A for its long association with the Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution, commonly known as ZCMI. Labeled “America’s first department store” by most Utah historians, ZCMI was founded in 1868 by Brigham Young, and within a few years, spawned a regional system of local co-operatives. In Salt Lake City, the ZCMI department store was one of the most successful retail establishments in the city’s first 150 years. The ZCMI General Warehouse provided a vital link between Salt Lake’s railroad district and the ZCMI store on Main Street in the heart of the downtown business. The warehouse was also significant as a wholesale processing center for merchandise bound for ZCMI branches throughout the Great Basin and the Intermountain West. The warehouse reflects the twentieth-century development of Salt Lake City’s railroad and warehouse district. The building is also significant under Criterion C as both a representative and an innovative warehouse. Though the building is one of many early industrial and warehouse buildings remaining on Salt Lake City’s west side, it is one of only two known turn-of-the-twentieth-century industrial buildings to incorporate an interior dock for loading and unloading rail cars. The warehouse also features an innovative interior layout that facilitated the movement and storage of goods. The ZCMI General Warehouse is being nominated under the Salt Lake City Business District Multiple Resource Area context. The building will be rehabilitated as an adaptive reuse project in 2005-2006 and remains a contributing resource in one of Salt Lake’s historic west side neighborhoods.