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Westmoreland Place: 2011 Historic Homes Tour

Friday, 30 January 2009 14:17

2011htUtah Heritage Foundation held its annual Historic Homes Tour on May 14, 2011, from 10 AM to 5 PM, in the Westmoreland Place neighborhood, Salt Lake City's newest local historic district, and working toward designation as a national historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.  We thank the tour sponsors, the homeowners, housechairs, docents, volunteers, and everyone bought tickets and came to see eight wonderful homes this year.

After Utah obtained its statehood in 1896, the population of Salt Lake City almost doubled from 1900 to 1910. Real estate developers platted the land and vigorously promoted new subdivisions on the east bench of the valley. Streetcars brought residents of the new areas southeast of the city to jobs and shopping downtown. Residents could get from Westmoreland Place to the business center in eighteen minutes on a streetcar line that ran along 1500 East.

The Westmoreland Place subdivision was laid out in 1913 by the Dunshee brothers, Earl and Clark O. Another pair of brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, influenced the Dunshee brothers and their architectural choices. The Greene brothers practiced in California from 1893 to 1914, and are considered to have inspired the Craftsman style trends throughout the United States. One of their most renowned works is the 1908 Gamble House located in Westmoreland Place in Pasadena, California. Presumably, the name chosen by the Dunshees for the subdivision was a reference to this Greene and Greene work.

In the development of Westmoreland Place, the brothers acted as realtors, selling lots through their Commonwealth Investment Company. Their frequent newspaper advertisements noted that they wanted to attract “a better class” of owners and that “no lot was more than one block from the streetcar line.” Westmoreland Place was to be one of a few restricted residential neighborhoods where buyers had to spend at least $3,000 on their residence. Setting that price ensured that only the more affluent could afford to buy and build in the subdivision. All aspects of the neighborhood were planned and executed by the Dunshees from the sidewalks, curbs, gutters, street trees, to the grand entrance through stone gate houses with grassy parks on either side.

The Dunshees are credited with building about a quarter of the homes in the neighborhood starting in 1913 until 1922 when they moved to Los Angeles. Other local architects credited with the design of Westmorland Place are Clifford Percy Evans and Taylor Woolley, principals at the firm Miller, Woolley and Evans.  Both served as apprentices to Frank Lloyd Wright in his Oak Park studio and returned to practice together in Utah. They are credited with helping to spread the Prairie School style throughout Utah. In Westmoreland Place, they built Prairieinfluenced bungalows and some of the Colonial Revival style homes.

The Ryberg brothers, William E. and Eric, were involved in much of the early construction in Westmoreland Place and were the major contractors for the Dunshees. Their company, Ryberg Brother Contractors of Logan, was formed in 1912. Both brothers lived in the neighborhood and were next-door neighbors on Glenmare Street, sharing a driveway.

Westmoreland Place remains one of the most intact collections of architecturally significant bungalows and period cottages in the Salt Lake City. The neighborhood’s cohesive feel can also be attributed to the original subdivision design with uniform setbacks and the styles of architecture that are all compatible in massing and scale. The last lot in the neighborhood was built on in 1952. Since its founding the Westmoreland Place neighborhood has been a tight-knit community and continues to be a place where you know all your neighbors. As Salt Lake City’s most recent local historic district, these residents demonstrate excellent stewardship of Utah’s historic places.