Provo Downtown Historic District

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Provo Downtown Historic District
Provo Downtown Historic District.jpeg
Provo Downtown Historic District
Provo Downtown Historic District is located in Utah
Provo Downtown Historic District
Provo Downtown Historic District is located in the US
Provo Downtown Historic District
Location Center Street and University Avenue
Provo, Utah
Coordinates 40°14′0″N 111°39′32″W / 40.23333°N 111.65889°W / 40.23333; -111.65889Coordinates: 40°14′0″N 111°39′32″W / 40.23333°N 111.65889°W / 40.23333; -111.65889
Area 25 acres (10 ha)
Built 1880-1970
Architectural style Classical Revival, Renaissance, Gothic Revival
NRHP Reference # 80003980[1]
Added to NRHP May 1, 1980

The Provo Downtown Historic District is a 25-acre (10 ha) historic area located in Provo, Utah. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The district is composed of four blocks of Center Street (100 East to 300 West) and one and a half blocks of University Avenue. The NRHP listing included 43 contributing buildings.[1] The majority of the buildings in this district were built between 1880 and 1930, however there were buildings constructed all the way through the seventies. Many of the buildings, particularly the older ones, required some fashion of remodeling. Within the district, twenty structures are considered architecturally or historically significant, and twenty one structures are considered contributory.

History[edit]

In the year 1849, a group of about 150 people arrived in and settled what is now the city of Provo. This group was sent by the president of the LDS church at the time, Brigham Young, for purposes of colonizing the area. The following year the city was surveyed as a plot one square mile surrounded by several acres of land designated into eight lots. Brigham Young encouraged the settlers to build their homes and businesses in the proposed town site, and church leader George Albert Smith relocated to Provo to help encourage the city's development.

The first merchant of Provo, Andrew J. Stewart, owned and ran a store out of his home on 5th west. He eventually relocated his business to center street. By the end of 1852, two years after the arrival of the settlers, Provo had several operating businesses. Included are a pottery, two grist mills, three cabinet shops, three shoe shops, one meat market, two lime kilns, one sash factory, one wooden bowl factory, two tailor's shops, two hotels, and two storehouses. The businesses dotted fifth west and center street.

Profits for merchants in Utah were doing fairly high at this time during the 1860s. However, the farmers and Saints who subsisted through agriculture did not receive much of a profit if any, and began to resent the merchants for their success. Brigham Young, President of the LDS Church at that time instructed members to “Cease paying exorbitant prices demanded by disinterested persons...and hundreds of thousands of dollars may be saved annually by the saints (Thorley-Warnick p. 2).” Brigham Young encouraged cooperative trading among the members of the church in order to ensure fair trade. The Provo West Co-op was the first cooperative store which was built, and it was built in the same building the Andrew J. Stewart, the first merchant of Provo, operated and lived out of.

There was a large influx of buildings into Provo in the late 1860s. Many businesses came in and located along center street. These buildings were built primarily of wood or adobe. Commercial buildings that developed during this time included Provo's first kiln, W. Allen's brickyard, and the Provo West Co-op, among others. The Liddiard Brothers, the sons of Samuel Giddiard, continued their father's cement business, contributing to many of the structures on center street. E. J. Ward and Sons, established in 1889, became a major competitor with the Beebe and Smooth Lumber Companies. The Provo Foundry and Machine company produced heat and plumbing still apparent in the town in present conditions. The Taylor Furniture Company was established in 1866, and became a successful business. The Taylor family established several successful businesses on the west side of the downtown.

Tintic Mining industry[edit]

The successful commercial mining of precious metals and minerals transformed Utah's economy from basically an agrarian base to a more industrialized state. Within this development the Tintic Mining District, located approximately thirty miles southwest of Provo, was founded in 1869 and by 1899 became the leading mining center in Utah with a value of output placed at five million dollars. A central figure in Tintic success was Jesse Knight and the Knight family who resided in Provo. Jesse Knight attained wealth with his Humbug mine in the mid-1890s. The large silver producer allowed Knight to develop other mines in the East Tintic area. Knightsville grew around the workings and became touted as the only saloon-free, prostitute-free, privately owned mining camp in the U.S. His strict adherence to doctrines of the LDS church made the town one inhabited primarily by Mormons.

The tintic mining effort had a large effect on Provo's commercial district. Jesse Knight, Charles E. Loose, and other entrepreneurs made wealthy due to the mining industry made Provo their home and set about to improving it. Charles E. Loose spent his money buying up a large sum of Provo's commercial property, such as the Loose Block. Jesse Knight established the Knight Block (bordering Center street and University), in addition to the Knight Mansion.

Provo continued to grow. In 1883 construction began on a new LDS Tabernacle. In 1887 a chamber of commerce was organized. In 1889, the Rocky Mountain Bell Telephone Company developed and secured a twenty-year franchise. The Provo Lake Resort was also established on Utah Lake.

Update[edit]

Today Provo's downtown is both historic and architecturally significant, containing much of the history of the city's growth.

The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[1] The district includes the Knight Block, which was already separately listed on the National Register.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Kathryn L. MacKay and Thomas W. Fanchett (May 1979). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Provo Downtown Historic District" (PDF). National Park Service.  and accompanying photos
  • 2002. "Historic Provo" Provo City Landmarks Commission.
  • Mackay, Kathryn L. National Park Service. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form." May 1979.
  • Thorley-Warnick, Jill. National Park Service. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form." April 1984.

External links[edit]