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Downtown Re-Born: 2007 Historic Building Tour

Wednesday, 16 July 2008 15:15
Utah Heritage Foundation hosted Downtown Re-Born: Commercial and Residential, our Annual Historic Building Tour on Saturday, April 28, 2007 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Visitors explored seven beautiful commercial and residential buildings throughout Salt Lake City. The tour was part of the first ever Utah Preservation Conference: Preservation Builds Communities.

Tickets for the Tour cost $15 for UHF Members and $20 for the public. The tour was headquartered at the Fuller Paint Building, home of Big-D Construction Corporation at 404 West 400 South. Visitors drove to each place on the tour.

After the railroad came to Salt Lake City in the 1870s, the blocks just west of West Temple became the literal "gateway" to the of the city. Here ethnic and economic diversity belied the homogeneity of the residential east side. Colorful ethnic business—Greek coffeehouses or Japanese noodle shops served a population different from that of the mainstream. In the same way, today you see sharp contrasts of the rich historic fabric of industrial complexes like the Ford Motor Company or the Firestone Building sit kitty- corner to new hotels. Downtown has always been distinguished by the the mix of old and the new, but nowhere in a more authentic and textured mix than on its West side.


In the 1870s, Salt Lake City's Gateway-Railroad District was where trains distributed immigrants coming in pursuit of the American Dream. Businessmen, travelers, and curiosity seekers came to Utah convinced their lives would be different here. Next to buildings constructed distinctly for the railroad industry, farmers brought their agricultural products to wholesale warehouses that lined streets to the north and east. Ethnic neighborhoods, businesses and churches contrasted the large-scale industrial complexes and railroad depots, but in combination created a unique enclave set off from the rest of the city in every way.
In the decade when Salt Lake City prepared for the Olympics, this rich historic neighborhood became known as the Gateway once again. When the Boyer Company proposed its large scale development that would stretch over three city blocks, it's "Gateway" name conjured up historic images of this diverse part of the city. Construction of the Gateway Lifestyle Center again marked neighborhood contrasts between the scale of new development and the historic warehouses, as well as between the existing shelters for homeless and new upscale condominiums, and the intregration of new transportation with TRAX and the newly built intermodal hub.
Once used for industrial or commercial purposes, today Salt Lake City's historic warehouses offer exciting opportunities for re-use. In fact, the creative adaptive use of historic buildings now distinguishes this part of the city, making it a hip and attractive alternative to apartments, offices, and stores in other parts of the city. Through adaptive use a building is given new life—a different life, bringing forth the historic texture of the building's exterior with a reconfigured interior space. The Gateway's warehouses serve as the perfect place for fashionable loft apartments or condos and the right environment for business or commercial activity. The buildings showcased on this year's Utah Heritage Foundation tour celebrate adaptive use and characterize the lively, creative and textured approach typically taken in Salt Lake City's west side neighborhoods.
Utah Heritage Foundation thanks all the building owners for helping preserve a piece of Salt Lake's architectural history, and for sharing it.