Early Yalecrest Preservationists

DUP May 1933

You can call this group “early Yalecrest preservationists” because historic preservation is really about people and building community.  It’s people coming together to learn, honor and celebrate our past and present… and working together on our shared future.  That’s what I see in this picture of the Yale Camp Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

This May 1933 Yalecrest photo, taken in front of Blanche Bower’s home at 1097 S. 15th East, shows the gals participating in a “Silver Tea” (an older fancy term for fundraiser).

Over the years, lots of Yalecrest women were active participants in Daughters of Utah Pioneers.  Meetings were held in various homes in our neighborhood.  Yale Camp’s first official meeting was held at “Daughter” Cecil Besley’s house, 955 S. 1300 East, in 1924.  At that meeting “Captain” Elizabeth Liddle made a plea for the preservation of historical material and relics… kind of like K.E.E.P. today.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the neighborhood women that hosted meetings in the 1920’s:

Mary Ellen Rockwood @ 1317 Gilmer
Ethel Scalley @ 1327 Yale
Amy Pratt Romney @ 1337 Gilmer
Ida Kirkham @ 1345 Normandie Circle
Rose Hall @ 1432 Gilmer
Bernice Rogers @1452 Gilmer
Odelia Tebbs @ 1515 Laird
Flora Collett @ 1515 Princeton
Margaret Eccles @ 1521 Harvard
Ida Miller @ 1527 Michigan
Laura Silver @ 1539 Harvard
Zelpha Yates @ 948 Greenwood Terrace
Mildred Jenkins @ 1646 Yale

“Yale Camp” by Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1933.
Salt Lake Telegram

–Kelly Marinan

Where Is It?



Where is it?  If you said, “Yalecrest,” you are absolutely correct.  Yalecrest is one neighborhood that was originally created as multiple subdivisions.  This snapshot is from a map of the Douglas Park Subdivision.  As to exactly where in Yalecrest this area can be seen today… here are a few hints to help you:

  1.  That is Michigan Ave coming in on the west/left and veering north.
  2.  Replace “Vista” with “Hubbard Ave”
  3.  Replace “Williams” with “Michigan Ave”
  4.  Replace “Roeber St” with “1500 East” and move that street east/right a bit.

Douglas Park was platted by the Douglas Heights Land and Improvement Company in Jan 1911.  E. W. Williams and Lou D. Sweet signed the Owner’s Dedication as officers of the company.  The streets didn’t turn out exactly as they were initially envisioned when this subdivision was platted over 100 years ago.  But, it’s pretty darn close!

— Kelly Marinan

Yale Park

The earliest Yalecrest street pavement project began with Yale Avenue from 1300 to 1500 East in 1913-1914. Subsequently the Yale Park LHD application area contains the highest concentration of oldest buildings within Yalecrest. It is the most well defined contiguous and original part of the neighborhood.

Apps Map Feb 2015

The Yale Parks were heavily promoted in the newspapers and attracted prominent homeowners. The Frank Lloyd Wright-trained Utah architect, Taylor A. Woolley, designed the Prairie style house at 1408 Yale Avenue for William W. and Leda Rawlins Ray, the U.S. District Attorney for Utah. Woolley’s firm, Woolley and Evans, designed the Colonial Revival Yale LDS Ward Chapel built in 1925 by Gaskell Romney on 1431 Gilmer Avenue.

The Ashton-Jenkins Company was also involved in real estate sales for other subdivisions such as Normandie Heights. Edward M. Ashton lived in one of the earliest houses in Yalecrest, designed by his brother, architect, Raymond Ashton, and built by the Ashton Improvement Company, at 1352 Yale Avenue in 1913. Raymond Ashton designed his own house at 1441 Yale in addition to a number of other Yale Park houses as well as commercial and institutional buildings. The Jacobethan Irving School and Sprague Library show his facility with period revival styles. He also designed the Prairie Style bungalow at 1302 Yale Avenue that was home to George Albert Smith, a President of the LDS Church. He was allied with the above Ashton businesses as well as the Ashton-Parry Company and Ashton and Evans, Architects. Other prominent home owners in the Ashton-Jenkins subdivisions include Utah Governor Charles R. Mabey at 1390 Yale, a number of attorneys (Athol Rawlins at 1475 Yale, William C. Ray at 1408 Yale), as well as various businessmen, dentists and physicians.

Gilmer Park was a creation of Kimball and Richards in 1919. Gilmer Drive and Thornton Avenue between 1300 and 1400 East are the Yalecrest section of Gilmer Park. The majority of the residences were constructed in the 1920s for private individuals. Speculative houses were constructed by the Romney Brothers, R. W. Larson (Larson Building), Kimball and Richards and the Modern Housing Corporation. Don Carlos Kimball and Claude Richards formed Kimball & Richards Land Merchants in 1908 to develop and sell land. They were responsible for over 30 subdivisions between 1900 and 1925. They served as developers as well as builders in Yalecrest.

Yale Ward

1431 E. Gilmer Avenue The Yale Ward LDS meetinghouse, located at 1431 East Gilmer Drive, was originally built in 1924. A major remodeling and renovation was completed in August 2013. The building is home to the Yale Ward of the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake. Gaskell Romney was the contractor who built the original building. The cornerstone was laid on September 24, 1924. By December 21, 1924, the cultural hall was completed enough for use, and the chapel was ready for use on March 8, 1925. The entire project was completed in one year. Gaskell Romney was the son of Miles Romney. He married Anna Amelia Pratt, a grand-daughter of Parley P. Pratt. Gaskell and Anna were the parents of George W. Romney, two-term governor of Michigan, presidential candidate in 1968, and presidential cabinet member from 1969-1973. Gaskell’s grandson, Mitt Romney, was governor of Massachusetts and a two-time presidential candidate. Gaskell Romney served as bishop of the Yale Ward for ten years.

Yale Ward (3)

The following are some notable homes from the Yale Park area.

1302 Yale

1302 E. Yale Avenue  This Prairie Style bungalow at 1302 Yale Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. It was built for Isaac A. Hancock, former vice president of one of Utah’s earliest fruit and produce wholesale companies. Raymond Ashton, of Ashton Improvement Company, built the house for roughly $5,000. The house is one of the first constructed in what is known as the Yale Park subdivision. According to newspaper ads at the time, this subdivision was for “permanent homes, no apartment houses or flats allowed.” The most prominent owner of this house was George Albert Smith, President of the LDS Church from 1945 to 1951. This home was used to entertain all the elected U.S. governors – some 48 at the time – in 1947 to commemorate the Centennial of the pioneers coming to Utah. Note the port cochere on the east side of the house. It helps create the building’s horizontal feel but is only found on high-style Prairie houses. Originally this lot was much bigger. The garage on the lot to the east actually was the garage for this house. The owners of this home also had what was called a “summer house” near Red Butte Creek to escape the hot Salt Lake summer heat. Near the creek bed there is a giant cottonwood tree believed to be as old as the biggest trees in Liberty Park.

1314 Yale

1314 E. Yale Avenue This French Norman two-story was built in 1930 by Howard J. McKean. He was a popular builder in Yalecrest, particularly on Yale. He constructed some Period Revival style homes like this one, and also built some of the Prairie School bungalows nearby. French Norman Revival architecture uses stone or brick, and incorporates round or square towers. Special door surrounds, sometimes of terra cotta, are also found in French Norman-styled homes. A balconet [or balconette] is an architectural term for a false balcony, or railing at the outer plane of a window-opening reaching to the floor, and having, when the window is open, the appearance of a balcony. They are common in France, Spain, and Italy and are often referred to as Juliet balconies after the scene from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Besides homes, McKean is credited in 1930 with building a “mammoth stage” inside the LDS Tabernacle — the largest stage ever erected in the Western United States. It was constructed for a big pageant production of the History of Man during the centennial celebrations of the LDS Church. The first owners were George and Edith Elliot. At one time, on this lot and the lot west of it, there was nothing but a huge garden belonging to the corner house – which was bought by Edith’s parents. Her father was George Albert Smith, the 8th president of the LDS Church. While the newlyweds’ home was being built, they lived with her parents. George was a bookkeeper. Most of his career was spent working in the sugar beet industry for the Utah-Idaho Sugar Co, which operated factories in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington and South Dakota.

1367 Yale


1367 E. Yale Avenue This home at 1367 Yale Avenue is an example of a bungalow in the Arts and Crafts style. It was built in 1915 of regular brick and cobblestone. The Bungalow style is the most popular early 20th century style (1900-1925) in Utah and represents 19% of the homes in Yalecrest. It is characterized by low heights, generally a one-story house with low-pitched roofs and a “stretched-out shape,” containing either a symmetrical or asymmetrical façade with walls and ornamentation that emphasize straight lines and right angles. Materials used in this home including brick, stucco, wood and cobblestone. The wood framing on this Arts and Crafts style bungalow is most visibly exposed under the eaves as rafter framing on the west side of this house. The foundation and porch wall is constructed with cobblestone. Windows vary in both size and number of light panes (fenestrations). This house has a typical wide front porch or veranda and with asymmetrical placement of the front entry door to one side of the front façade. This home was built by the Bower Buildings Company, who with the Bower Investment Company, platted 140 lots in the Normandie Heights subdivision of Yalecrest in 1926. Brothers George C., Louis J. and Frank B. Bowers constructed over 3,000 buildings by 1946 in Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. Louis J. Bowers built all the homes on Uintah Circle on speculation between 1937 and 1938. The first owners of the house were George D.D. Kirkpatrick, born in Philadelphia, and Grace G. Kirkpatrick, born in Minnesota. George DD Kirkpatrick’s parents, Samson and Elizabeth Jane Trotter Kirkpatrick, immigrated to the US from Scotland. They are all buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery. George DD Kirkpatrick was a Cadastral Engineer (otherwise known as a surveyor) for the US Dept. of the Interior. Cadastral engineers, were involved with the preservation and retracement of the Public Land Survey System (PPLS), also known as the “rectangular system,” which was key to the expansion west in the early history of our country.

1390 Yale

1390 E. Yale Avenue This home at 1390 Yale Avenue was built in 1924 for Utah’s fifth Governor, Charles Rendall Mabey, and is an example of a one-story striated brick bungalow. Bungalows are generally low ground hugging buildings with sparse decorations limited generally to exposed structural features such as rafter ends. Many times they include porches that facilitate access to the house, built-in features such as bookcases and a big fireplace for the living-room and other rooms. Some bungalows include a clipped gable roof as seen on this house. It was constructed by The Ashton-Jenkins Company which was heavily involved in real estate development, sales and architecture in this area as well as other Yalecrest subdivisions such as Normandie Heights. Mabey served on the Bountiful City Council, as Mayor of Bountiful, and as a two-term state legislator. He also served a tour of duty in the Spanish-American War and served a mission for the LDS Church. He was a strong advocate of public education and promoted new highway construction in Utah. Gov. Mabey, his wife Afton and four sons lived here for roughly 25 years. The Governor was an amateur geologist and rock hound. He traveled around the country extensively both during and after his tenure as governor, usually in his pickup truck, and always returned with a load of stones. He terraced the entire Yale-side portion of the property from the upper backyard all the way down to Red Butte Creek with magnificent stone retaining walls, concrete pathways edged in stone, three fish ponds that use City water, stone chair seats and a couple of patio areas. There is a spring-fed pond at the bottom of the canyon adjacent to the creek in which he raised trout. After Gov. Mabey and his wife passed away, the property was sold Llewellyn R. McKay who was the youngest son of long-time LDS church President David O. McKay. The home and property have been lovingly enjoyed by only four homeowners.

1408 Yale

1408 E. Yale Avenue  Construction began on this home in 1915. It is an early house in the Yale Park subdivision and is an excellent example of a typical Prairie style house, as characterized by a broad low roof with wide overhanging eaves and ribbons of consecutive windows. It was designed by Taylor A. Woolley, a Utah native who studied for five years under Frank Lloyd Wright. Mr. Woolley was also the architect for three LDS church houses: Yale, Garden Park and the 13th Ward church. Other prominent projects to his credit include Highland Park, Social Hall Avenue and landscape developments in Memory Grove Park from 1917 to 1919. This home was built for William W. And Leda Rawlins Ray, while he was U.S. District Attorney for Utah. The Rays lived in this home until 1957. Like many Prairie houses, this one is two stories with broad eaves on a cube shaped structure.

1480 Yale

1480 E. Yale Avenue This home at 1480 Yale Avenue is an excellent example of a house influenced by the Prairie School design associated with Frank Lloyd Wright’s early career. It is a good example of local interpretation of style with little emphasis on stylistic ornamentation and more on simple block massing. The only variation in design is the exterior use of small classical columns and a classical cornice at the front portico and the back porch. Construction began in 1918 on this simple rectangular structure. At the time, the cost of the house was $5,000. The home was built for H.J. McKean and then sold in 1920 to Arch and Clara Cheney.



Alma Clayton

AlmaCroppedYalecrest has always had some impressive men and women working in Education.  One of them was Alma Clayton (1755 Yale Ave).  Alma worked quite a few years for the SLC School District.  He was the only attendance/truant officer for the whole city.    In 1908 SLC schools reported 478 truancy cases, 62 cases of corporal punishment and 81 suspensions.  With more children entering school each year, I’m sure Alma was kept very busy.

At the end of 1909 Alma was pulling in an even $100 a month.  That was the year he helped create a living flag in honor of President Taft’s visit.  The flag was composed of at least 1600 school children.  This sight brought tears to our president’s eyes.


The Board of Education must have appreciated Alma’s work.  They authorized the purchase of a brand new motorcycle for him.

Alma was also assigned the task of catching the “hungry burglar” who had been sneaking into various schools and cooking himself some scrambled eggs or maybe a custard pudding with coconut frosting.  Sometimes the burglar would do the dishes afterwards.  Sometimes he chose to take a nap in the principal’s office and smoke some cigarettes there. He always left before the janitor got to work in the morning.  (Alma caught him in the cooking act.)


Alma spoke at a mass meeting in favor of not abolishing the Juvenile Court.  He said he seldom sent any child to the Court, but having the Court behind him meant a lot to him in his work.  Representatives from Episcopal, Catholic, LDS, Jewish, and Unitarian organizations along with other civic-minded groups, stood with him in support.

Alma lived in his Yalecrest home until he died in 1957.  For over 10 years he was one of 3 Alma’s living on his block.  My guess is that the nearby middle school was named after this Yalecrest man.

–Kelly Marinan

SLC Board of Education “Years of Challenge: Public Education in SLC 1890-1965”
SLC Board of Education Minutes, Oct 10, 1911.
Salt Lake Tribune articles:
“About SLC’s Public Schools” Jan 13, 1909.
“Board of Education Has a Busy Meeting” Aug 18, 1909.
“Tears in the Eyes of President Taft” Sept 27, 1909.
“Hungry Burglar is Found in School” Nov 24, 1915.
“Urge Retention of the Juvenile Court” Jan 27, 1917.
Living flag photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park

Miller Park Stone Bridge

Amphitheater at Miller ParkStairs

Miller Park located at 1706 East 900 South was dedicated on April 14, 1935.  Yalecrest resident Mrs. Minnie W. Miller, in the memory of her late husband Lee Charles Miller donated approximately 2 acres of land which along with city property and property acquired from The Herrick Construction Company established the Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park. The park is a four-acre riparian woodland surrounding Red Butte Creek and is a contributing resource in the Yalecrest National Historic District.  The park features a beautiful historic stone bridge, amphitheater as well as stone walls.  The Salt Lake City Parks Department recently restored the park and stabilized the streambed and now more than ever the historic stonework bridge stands out as a shining star in the park.

Should Miller Bird Refuge be designated as an local historic district?  We at K.E.E.P. Yalecrest think so. One look at the beautiful stonework and one can see that YES this park is worthy of designation.

Why preservation is meaningful…

Three out of state generations visiting the house where their grandmother/mother grew up!

Three out-of-state generations visiting the house where their grandmother/mother grew up!

It’s that feeling you get when you know there is a story to be told or heard. It’s when your eyes meet someone else’s or when there’s a hesitation before you leave when you know there’s a question that should be asked for the puzzle pieces to fit together.

In 1998 my oldest daughter was in preschool. I was running late and as I was backing out of my driveway I noticed the couple parked in front of my house staring and pointing and talking. I knew there was something for me to hear or tell this couple. But preschool was starting and I needed to not be that late parent. Although the school was only a few blocks away, by the time I returned the couple was gone. It was a moment I knew I’d regret for the rest of my life. What was the purpose of them being here?

Cut to 2005, once again a car was parked in front of our house and this time two people were actually standing outside and looking at the house. I assumed these were the same people from seven years earlier and walked out front to greet them. The woman introduced herself and her husband to me. She had grown up in the house. And sure enough when I recounted my missed opportunity to visit with them years ago she confirmed it was indeed her. This was my second chance! I invited Bo and Kathy in and we visited and toured the house, she recapturing memories and me getting a glimpse of the past.

In 2013, and in the midst of developing a non-profit revolving around the preservation of the Yalecrest neighborhood, we reached out to those who we knew were supportive of preservation efforts. One of those people was Sue, a long time resident. She had some history books on our neighborhood that she wanted to share so we began emailing each other. In doing so this is the amazing coincidence that occurred. Below is an email I received from Sue;

I was so surprised to learn that you live in the recent award winning home on Princeton. I know the home well. My oldest and best friend who went through East High, Roosevelt Jr. and Uintah school with me lived there. I grew up on the corner of Emigration Street. We walked to and from school together every day usually meeting at the corner of 17th and 13th. In fact, I saw her this fall when we went to an East High reunion together. At that time she told me she drove by her old house (she always does when she’s in town) and the owner was outside. She stopped and he was so friendly and cordial about showing her the updated house. She raved on about how much she liked you and how happy she was it was in such good and loving hands. Little did I know the whole time she was talking about you. I never did see much of her father but I liked her mother ALOT. I remember in the basement her father had his “bar” room for his friends with old fashioned slot machines and a poker table, etc. Kathy and I would sneak down there and look at his Playboys…. never fully trust your children. Thank you for being so kind to my old friend.

This was remarkable to me, but there is more.

Fall 2014. Our yappy little dog escaped and was out front barking his head off. I ran out to get him only to find a group of people standing in the driveway, no wonder he was so upset. The woman out front says, “Jon?” I answered yes. And she said, “It’s Kathy, I grew up in your house.” I went out to greet her, happy to see her on this third time meeting. This visit she had her two daughters and seven grandchildren with her, all from California. She wanted to show them where she grew up. We were thrilled we were home to greet and invite the whole bunch of them in. We pointed out what we had done to the house since her last visit and they went into the back yard. Her grandkids felt awkward at first but eventually settled in and listened to the adult’s stories. Pictures were taken and another visit came to an end.

This is a follow up email sent to us from Robin, Kathy’s daughter: Thanks again for the tour. My mom is still telling everyone about that day and I truly don’t ever remember her being so happy about any single event as that one tour through “her” house. Hopefully one day I will answer the door of my farmhouse to a family who would like to stroll memory lane. Thanks so much Robin.

Reflecting back, this is exactly why K.E.E.P. Yalecrest was formed. To pursue preservation efforts for the properties of our 100 year old neighborhood so that past , present and future generations can enjoy the histories and stories associated with our homes. Afterall, we do not really own them, but are care takers for the next generation to maintain and appreciate them. And pass on the stories. I can only imagine the devastation that Kathy would have felt if she had driven up with her children and grandchildren only to find a demolished childhood home with a new modern oversized, replacement in its place.

–Jon Dewey