Skip to content
Secondary Content

Category Archives: DHA Featured

Historic Salt Lake City Apartments of the Early Twentieth Century

Text and Photographs by Lisa-Michele Church

Salt Lake City contains many beautiful examples of early twentieth-century apartment buildings constructed to house a growing urban population. With whimsical names such as Piccadilly, Peter Pan or Waldorf, these buildings beckoned to Utahns interested in a new approach to residential life. Apartments became places of beginnings and endings for the young couple starting out, a single woman with her first job, an immigrant family new to the area, or a widow no longer able to care for her home. Apartments were a stage on which the rest of your life came into view. As one resident put it, “You moved in with a suitcase, and out with a truck.”

The buildings were designed with style and architectural flair. Residents could enjoy amenities such as electric stoves, night watchmen, elegant entryways, and, for some, Murphy “disappearing” beds. Local families, including the Coveys, Downings, and Sampsons, constructed many of the complexes. Monthly rents ranged from $30 to $50. The last of the distinctive buildings was built in the 1930s; after World War II, people preferred cozy bungalows in the suburbs.  But about half of the original 180 apartment houses are still standing as a vivid illustration of the boldness with which Salt Lake City entered the twentieth century.

The following photo gallery features a few of these buildings. Download a self-guided walking tour brochure to see the historic apartments buildings at your own pace.

1 Pauline

Pauline. The Pauline was built at 278 East 100 South in 1904. This is a “walk up” design where each apartment has its own entrance landing and balcony. Note the cut sandstone foundation, iron railing balconies, and brick details.

2 Woodruff

The Woodruff, located at 235 South 200 East, was built in 1908 and contained 51 units. The building advertised to “young men looking for desirable apartments close to their work.” There was a café, The building featured steam heat, hot water, telephone, gas range, a dresser, buffet, and Murphy bed. Tenants had the option of choosing the color of their walls. A night watchman and janitor were assigned to the apartment, and a café was an added amenity to residents.

3 Woodruff detail

Note the lovely lamp posts, now gone, and the bold entrance. Abraham Gross and his wife, Vera, were typical residents in the 1930s, living in unit 60 and raising their young son, Jerome. Abe and Vera were Polish immigrants; he worked as a cattle buyer. When Abe was killed tragically in a 1935 train accident, Vera and Jerome moved out and the apartment stood vacant for two years.

4 Altadena

The Altadena, at 310 South 300 East, was built in 1905 at a cost of $21,000 by the Octavius Sampson family. The Sampsons originally named it Vivian Flats but changed the name a few years later to match that of their baby daughter. Typical residents included sisters, Annette and Martha Rustad, Norwegian immigrants who worked as seamstresses in Salt Lake department stores. They lived at the Altadena for many years; neither ever married.

5 Altadena detail

The entrance doors at the Altadena are especially detailed. Both buildings feature pediments, Tuscan columns, dentillated cornices and accented cornerstones.

6 Sampson

The Sampson building is at 276 East 300 South, around the corner from the Altadena. It contained seven “walk up” units. The Altadena and Sampson Apartments are almost identical plans. Both buildings have red brick, white trim, substantial balconies, and oak doors. One luxury item was an elevator at the back of the building.

7 Elise

The Elise, at 561 East 100 South, features a massive columned entrance with decorative iron railings and balconies.

8 Elise detail

The detail on the Elise columns is striking. The building was built in 1914 and contains eight “walk up” units.

9 Hillcrest

The Hillcrest is located at 155 East First Avenue and was built in 1915. It joined other apartment buildings financed by the Covey family, including the Covey Flats (now LaFrance), Buckingham, Kensington, New Hillcrest, and Covey. All were built by W.C.A. Vissing, a popular apartment contractor of the time and member of the Covey family.

10 Buckingham

The u-shaped court of the Buckingham (241 East South Temple) is echoed in the other Covey-designed buildings. All were carefully landscaped with generous courtyards and flower beds.

11 Ruby

The Ruby, at 435 East 200 South, was built in 1912. It contains 21 “walk up” units and beautiful wood framed doors and windows. The detailed brick work is also remarkable.

12 Ruby too

One resident of the Ruby, Sadie Baldwin, worked as a dressmaker earning $720 per year in 1940. Sadie was a young widow with three children to raise.

13 Embassy

The Embassy was built at 130 South 300 East in 1926. It contains 31 units using a double-loaded corridor plan where each room opens off a central corridor, and few have balconies. This plan type was a particularly efficient use of Salt Lake City’s deep lots, and was common in the buildings built after World War I. It is currently called the Pauline Downs.

14 Embassy detail

Most early apartment buildings used bold signs to attract attention and convey style. The Embassy sign is no exception. The Embassy was built, along with two adjacent apartment buildings, by Bessie P. Downing and her husband, Hardy. Hardy was a famous tandem bike racer and boxing promoter. Bessie lived in this building and managed it until Hardy’s passing.

15 Embassy Arms

The Embassy Arms was a little fancier than the Embassy, with its French door balconies and elaborate stone entrance. It was built by the Downings next to the Embassy, at 120 South 300 East, in 1930. Note the stone “D” over the sign; it was originally named the Downing Deluxe.

16 Embassy Arms too

These French door balconies were unusual in a double loaded corridor plan. Note the brickwork and stone accents.

17 Spencer Stewart

The Spencer Stewart, at 740 East 300 South, was built in 1926 and included 29 units. It was advertised in the 1935 Salt Lake Telegram for its “three rooms, electric refrigerators and ranges, furnished or unfurnished, disappearing beds, nice large rooms, moderate rent.”

18 Stratton

The Stratton was built in 1927 as part of a building boom where at least ten new apartment buildings appeared on the downtown skyline. It is located at 49 South 400 East and features some castellation along the roofline, two balconies, and an imposing entrance.

19 Peter Pan

The Peter Pan is located at 445 East 300 South. It is notable for its tile roofs, brick detailing and lovely sign. The building was built in 1927.

20 Peter Pan detail

The name signs on the early apartment buildings were often neon and included colorful metal designs.

21 Bell Wines

The Bell Wines apartments were built in 1927 by a married couple, Hazel Bell and Stanley Wines, who combined their surnames. It is located at 530 East 100 South. The building is evocative of a southern plantation home, with a center porch and tall columns around a courtyard.

22 Bell Wines too

The building contains 30 units opening off a long hallway. One early resident, Eva Harmer, became engaged to her sweetheart, Blaine Allan, while living here in 1934. She was alarmed when she discovered she had dropped her engagement ring down the apartment’s sink. Fortunately, city water officials blocked off the pipes until the ring could be found.

23 Annie Laurie

The Annie Laurie, located at 326 East 100 South, and its sister building, the Lorna Doone, were both built in 1928 by the Bowers Investment Company at a cost of $80,000 each. The Lorna Doone has 33 units and the Annie Laurie has 30.

25 Lorna Doone

The Lorna Doone, at 320 East 100 South, shared an interior block parking lot with the other nearby apartments. Between the two sister buildings is a landscaped courtyard.

24 Lorna Doone detail

Both buildings feature elaborate gargoyles and ornaments at the entrance and on the roofline.

26 Armista

The Armista, located at 55 East 100 South, is a substantial building of stone and brick with little ornamentation. Its doorway features beautiful lamps. Herrick and Company built it with 30 units in 1927. Its name was later changed to the Waldorf Apartments. A 1927 Salt Lake Tribune ad read: “$40.00 to $42.00. One of the most modernly equipped and conveniently located apartments in the city.”

27 Piccardy

The Piccardy, at 115 South 300 East, was built in 1930. It has 40 units: five one-bedroom and five studios on each floor. It features Jacobethan styling, twisting columns at the entrance and some leaded glass windows.

28 Piccardy detail

Acanthus leaf trim and original light fixtures adorn the Piccardy entrance.

29 Los Gables

The Los Gables is one of the largest apartments of the early period with 80 units. It was built at 135 South 300 East in 1929. Note the imposing stone work and arched doorways.

30 Los Gables detail

The Los Gables also features inset stone pieces and timber accents.

31 Piccadilly

The Piccadilly is a typical double-loaded corridor plan, built in 1929 at 24 South 500 East.

32 Piccadilly detail

The doorway at the Piccadilly features the original light fixture and decorative sign.

33 Bigelow

The Bigelow apartments were built in 1930 at 223 South 400 East, containing 30 units. A 1940 ad read: “2 r[oo]m modern, lots of space, light, all electric, good service, exclusive.”

34 Premier

The Premier was built at 27 South 800 East in 1931 for $50,000. The site features an unusually large front courtyard with lush landscaping. Note the upright metal sign on the roof.

35 Premier detail

The Premier entrances have striking stone work and wrought iron gates.

36 Chateau Normandie

The Chateau Normandie, 63 South 400 East, was built in 1931. It is a rare example of a “walk up” design built at the end of this apartment era. It has stately trees and extensive timber accents.

37 Chateau Normandie detail

The windows at the Chateau Normandie are extensively decorated.

38 Eastcliff Westcliff

The East Cliff and West Cliff buildings sit together on 200 South between 400 East and 500 East. They were built in 1927–28 and originally named the Cummings apartments.

39 Mayflower

The Mayflower, at 1283 East South Temple, is one of the largest and most elegant apartment buildings of the first half of the twentieth century. Built in 1929 from a design by the architect Slack Winburn, each floor has only five 2,600-square-foot units. Arches and ivy adorn the exterior.

40 Knickerbocker

The Knickerbocker apartment building at 1280 East South Temple was built in 1911 by W.C.A. Vissing. It has a large carved cornice and massive columns with iron railing balconies.

41 Castle Heights

The Castle Heights apartment building opened in January, 1931 to great acclaim. A Salt Lake Tribune ad dated January 18, 1931, read: “Every kitchen in this ultra modern apartment house is equipped with a genuine Frigidaire unit.” It still stands at 141 East First Avenue. Note the stone work, arched entrance, and neon sign.



Veterans Utah History Project


Where were you when WWII ended?

The Division of State History and the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs have joined together on the Veterans Utah History Project.

Whether you are a WWII veteran and want to document and share your experiences and memories or you want to volunteer to interview a WWII veteran there are opportunities to participate.

Visit the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs website to learn more and get involved to collect, document and archive this important part of our history.



Art-o-mat creator Clark Whittington helps an art lover make a purchase.

Utah Arts & Museums introduces Utah’s first Art-o-mat, a cigarette vending machine that has been transformed to sell small pieces of art. Purchased in April 2014, this Art-o-mat is the creation of Artists in Cellophane (AIC), an organization based in North Carolina that encourages “art consumption by combining the worlds of art and commerce in an innovative form.” AIC believes art should be progressive, yet personal and approachable.

There are currently 100 active machines in various locations around the country. Utah Arts & Museum’s model will be housed primarily at the Rio Gallery in the Rio Grande Depot for 12 months while it’s under an exclusivity contract. After that, it will be leased to other organizations in Utah on a first-come, first-served basis.

At the Art-o-mat’s Utah debut at the Mountain West Arts Conference, 46 conference-goers fed the machine a five-dollar bill for a cigarette box-sized work of art. Utah’s machine holds work by 11 artists. Each artist includes a brief description of what’s inside, such as “earrings with a twist” or “alcohol ink painting,” and the works are as varied as you might imagine: tiny robots with movable arms and legs, barcode flip books, painted ceramic tiles, earrings, small paintings, and more.

There are approximately 400 contributing artists from 10 countries currently involved in the Art-o-mat project, and AIC says it is always searching for fresh work. Artists are asked to submit their art for review, and if they’re chosen, Art-o-mat pays them to create work that will then be distributed to machines all over the country. Each piece includes a small paper with contact information and details about the artist. Utah Arts & Museums hopes Utah artists will participate so that local talent can be represented in the project.

To learn more about Art-o-mat, visit

Original Writing Competition

Established in 1958, the competition awards Utah writers for works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a variety of forms for readers of all ages. Submissions must be original works and cannot be published or accepted for publication at the time of entry. Manuscripts are reviewed in a blind process by judges selected from outside of Utah. Past winners have included former Utah Poets Laureate David Lee, Ken Brewer, and Katharine Coles, as well as current Utah Poet Laureate Lance Larsen. There is no entry fee for the competition, and it is open to all Utah residents.

We celebrated the 2015 Utah Original Writing Competition winners at an event on Saturday, November 7, at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. Click on the image below to view and download photos from the afternoon. 

2015 OWC program

2015 Utah Original Writing Competition Winners

Category A: Novel, judged by Ernest Hebert

First Place: The Salted Earth, by Eric Robertson (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: The Lord, My Shepherd, by Daniel Robertson (Provo)

Honorable Mention: Danger on Board, by Anne Stark (Paradise); Filet of Soul, by Courtney Davis (Provo)


Category B: Biography/Autobiography/History, judged by Poe Ballantine

First Place: Dreams of My Comrades, by Scott Zuckerman (Park City)

Second Place: Dear Little Fish, by Melissa Bond (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: The Reluctant Boss, by Hector Griffin (Cottonwood Heights); Nine Lives of a Natural Redhead, by Marcee Blackerby (Salt Lake City)


Category C: Book-length Collection of Stories, judged by Katherine Bahr

First Place: New Myth: Stories, by Aaron Allen (Orem)

Second Place: City of Saints: Stories of the Mormon Corridor, by David Pace (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: The Man Who Destroyed the Universe, by Gregory Deluca (St. George)


Category D: Young Adult Book, judged by Connie Goldsmith

First Place: The Dark Backward, by McKelle George (Lehi)

Second Place: All My Fairy Godmothers, by Katy Larson (Springville)

Honorable Mention: Rat Prince of Kusa, by Elena Jube (Provo); Better Than Dead, by Jessica Guernsey (Lindon)


Category E: Poetry, judged by Ellen Bass

First Place: “Waiting,” by Anne Vinsel (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: “Darlings from the Beginning,” by Ben Gunsberg (Logan)


Category F: Short Story, judged by Jon Billman

First Place: “The Whiskeyjack,” by Jenn Gibbs (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: “Eating Sushi in Mesquite,” by Lynn Kilpatrick (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: “Long Lost,” by David Cawley (Centerville)


Category G: Narrative Nonfiction/Personal Essay, judged by Rus Bradburd

First Place: “The Other Amelia,” by James Ure (Salt Lake City)

Second Place: “Mystery, Knowledge, and the Worsening Light of the Ethereal Mind,” by Maximilian Werner (Salt Lake City)

Honorable Mention: “Guilt: Two Love Stories,” by Natasha Saje (Salt Lake City)

2015 Utah Original Writing Competition Judges

Category A: Novel – Ernest Hebert

Ernest Hebert was the first person to be tenured as a fiction writer at Dartmouth College, where he taught from 1988 to 2015. The author of 12 books, Hebert is best known for the Darby Chronicles, seven connected novels revolving around the imaginary New Hampshire town of Darby. The Dogs of March (1979), the first Darby novel, received a citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation (now the PEN/Hemingway Award). Live Free or Die, the fifth Darby novel, was named a “notable book of the year” by the New York Times in 1989. Spoonwood (2005), the sixth Darby novel, received an IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) for the best regional novel in the Northeast in 2005. His historical novel, The Old American, and his cyber punk novel, Mad Boys, won prizes from the New Hampshire Writers Project, a group which honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2014. The New England Book Sellers Association chose Hebert as their Fiction Author of the Year for 2006. He and his wife live in Westmoreland, New Hampshire.

Category B: Biography/Autobiography/History – Poe Ballantine

Poe Ballantine was born in Denver and raised in San Diego. He dropped out of college and has spent most of his adult life traveling on the cheap. He is the winner of two Best American Essays, one Best American Short Story, and one Pushcart Prize. Ballantine’s most recent book is the essay collection Guidelines for Mountain Lion Safety. He lives in Chadron, Nebraska, with his wife and son.

Category C: Book-length Collection of Stories – Katherine (Kathy) Bahr

Kathy Bahr is a native of Augusta, Georgia, but traveled around the world as a military dependent, commonly known as an “army brat.”  She received an A. B. degree in philosophy and religion from the University of Georgia, an M. A. in English from Valdosta State University, and a PhD in English, also from UGA.  For the last 21 years, she has taught English and world literature, composition and ethics at Chadron State College in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Prior to her teaching career, she worked at the South Georgia Area Planning and Development Commission (Valdosta, GA), the American Bar Foundation (Chicago), and WESTAT, Inc. (Washington, D. C.).  As a possible point of interest to Utah residents, Spencer L. Kimball, the oldest son of Spencer W. Kimball, was conducting research at the Bar Foundation when she worked there. Her main publications are critical essays on the works of Matthew Arnold, the 19th-century critic and poet, and Mari Sandoz, the Nebraska Panhandle’s regional novelist and historian.  She is the recipient of the Frederic C. Luebke Award for Outstanding Regional Scholarship for her article “Collateral Damage: Veterans and Domestic Violence in Mari Sandoz’s The Tom-Walker.”  Recently retired, she hopes to do some long-postponed creative writing.

Category D: Young Adult Book – Connie Goldsmith

Connie Goldsmith writes nonfiction, primarily for Lerner’s school and library imprint for older young adult readers, Twenty-First Century Press. Her 17 nonfiction books (two due out in 2016) are about health, science, and history. Her most recent book, Bombs Over Bikini, was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street College Best Book, and won the 2015 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for California and Hawaii. Goldsmith has judged numerous writing contests, including for the Friends of the Sacramento Library, where she judged all categories, including young adult fiction. She reads YA fiction voraciously and reviews YA novels for The New York Journal of Books. She has read and reviewed more than 600 children’s books of all genres for California Kids, a Sacramento regional parenting publication, and has performed paid and unpaid critiques on all genres of juvenile writing for SCBWI-related events. Visit her websites at and

Category E: Poetry – Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, and many other journals. Her most recent book, Like a Beggar, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2014. Previous poetry books include The Human Line and Mules of Love. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women. Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, two Pushcart Prizes, the Elliston Book Award, The Lambda Literary Award, The Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod/Hardman, the Larry Levis Prize from Missouri Review, and the New Letters Prize. Her nonfiction books include Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, which has been translated into 12 languages. She lives in Santa Cruz, California and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.

Category F: Short Story – Jon Billman

Jon Billman’s fiction has appeared in such magazines as Esquire, Zoetrope: All Story and The Paris Review. He’s a contributing writer for Outside magazine and teaches in the MFA program at Northern Michigan University. He lives with his family in a log cabin in the Upper Peninsula.

Category G: Narrative Nonfiction/Personal Essay – Rus Bradburd

Rus Bradburd’s new book, Make It, Take It, is a novel in stories. He is also the author of Forty Minutes of Hell and Paddy on the Hardwood. A Chicago native, he coached basketball at UTEP and New Mexico State for 14 seasons. He is a frequent contributor to SLAM magazine, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, El Paso Times, Chicago Daily Southtown, Albuquerque Journal, Las Cruces Sun-News, African-American Perspectives, New Mexico Magazine, and Fiddler Magazine.

Click on the links below to see lists of winners in previous years.

2014 OWC List of Winners

2013 OWC List of Winners

2012 OWC List of Winners

2011 OWC List of Winners

2010 OWC List of Winners


Contact Alyssa Hickman Grove at or 801.236.7548.

Facebook Icon Literary Arts on Facebook

Literary Arts

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums has been supporting Utah’s literary community for more than 50 years. The Utah Original Writing Competition began in 1958 and has since expanded to other offerings. Through readings, conferences and workshops offered throughout Utah, as well as support for professional development for writers, the Literary Arts program has been able to reinforce growth and interest across all literary genres.

Bite-Size Poetry

We’ve invited notable Utah poets to recite short poems they’ve written. Our friends at TWIG Media Lab have created videos of the readings. We’re releasing one a month throughout 2015. Enjoy!

Bite-Size Poetry for November 2015: Paisley Rekdal

To see more videos of past Bite-Size Poets, please visit our YouTube channel.

Poet Laureate

Utah initiated its Poet Laureate program in 1997. The Poet Laureate is a Governor-appointed advocate for literature and the arts throughout the state. The Poet Laureate is available for readings at public events and in venues including libraries, universities and schools. To have the Poet Laureate visit you, please fill out the Poet Laureate appearance request form.

Literary Resources

Utah is home to a rich and diverse writing community. Throughout the state, there are several literary journals and magazines (both print and electronic), conferences, competitions, awards, festivals and presses. These range from independent to university- and college-sponsored periodicals, events and workshops, and include content in all literary genres, often paired with visual arts. Additionally, audiences for each range from local to national and from secular to religious, and are inclusive of experienced and emerging writers alike. For a list of resources, click HERE.

You may also sign up for our monthly LitOps e-newsletter by contacting Alyssa Hickman Grove at .


Poetry Out Loud Logo

Poetry Out Loud
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with Utah Arts & Museums’ Literature Program to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages Utah’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. State arts agencies receiving arts education funding from NEA are required to participate.

Original Writing Competition
The annual Original Writing Competition has won national respect because of the reputation of its judges and the honors received by its winners. For more than 50 years, this competition has honored some of Utah’s finest writers with public recognition, career assistance and cash prizes.

Download an information sheet on the Literary Arts program.

Facebook Icon Literary Arts on Facebook