Same but Different – Signs of Spring

This photo was taken in the 1930’s on the 1700 block of Harvard Ave.

Gone are the skate keys, longs skirts and cool retro hats.  But the kids are still here.  You can see them wearing helmets as they move down the sidewalks skating or riding their bikes.  You might also see them on razors, skateboards, and even motorized scooters and hoverboards!

–Kelly Marinan

Photo: Courtesy of K. Lewis


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

Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park

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.

Walking Tour Saturday, Oct. 12

K.E.E.P. Yalecrest is hosting an educational neighborhood walk Saturday, Oct. 12 from 1-3 p.m. to highlight the architectural styles and historicity of some notable homes located on the 1300-1500 East blocks of Harvard and Yale Avenues.

We’ll meet at Harvard Ave. and 13th East and walk east to 15th East, then down Yale Avenue and back to the start.

We will be viewing a variety of exterior architectural elements from the sidewalk in small groups and giving a brief synopsis of notable people or events related to certain houses.

The tour is open to the public and we’re suggesting a $5 donation for participants who are not current members of our organization. A $25 per person or $50 per family annual membership is also available.

This is our first tour event and we’re very excited about the wonderful bits of history we’ve uncovered in our preparations.  We hope to see you Saturday!

If you don’t make the tour, here’s the program: Yalecrest Notable Homes Tour Oct 12 2013


Remember the Dictaphone?

Salt Lake Desk Exchange

This 1936 photo of the Salt Lake Desk Exchange (advertising dictaphones) is courtesy of the Salt Lake County Archives.

Rulon and Bessie Davis were the first residents of 1784 Harvard Avenue. You don’t see guys like Rulon around here anymore. I mean, when was the last time you bumped into a dictaphone salesman on your block? Rulon was a distributor and the branch manager for The Dictaphone Sales Corporation. He lived here in the mid 1930’s. Multiple SLC companies sold dictaphones.

Old newspaper ads for LDS Business College often pictured a woman with a dictaphone. Besides dictaphones, the school offered classes on telegraphy, calculating machines, shorthand, and bookkeeping. “Business is calling for thousands of qualified workers.”

One of my favorite dictaphone ads was placed by The Columbia Stores Co, 221 S West Temple. Even though his wife disapproved, the ad writer said he loved smoking his old pipe. And when he went down to the front office smoking his pipe at work, he noticed the “operators’ noses take an elevation of about 45 degrees.” But he didn’t have to choose between the stenographers and his pipe. He could have them both because they used (drum roll) DICTAPHONES! “We shoot it through the speaking tube to a good wax record. The boy simply leaves the cylinders up in front… We don’t disturb them, and they don’t disturb us.” Ha! What a great business tool.

But dictaphones had other uses as well. Like in cases of espionage!

You can read about one case in the June 18, 1918 edition of the Salt Lake Telegram. A Pocatello crime was foiled because a detective planted a dictaphone in the room of two men plotting to rob and kill the proprietor of a certain store. Officers with their revolvers ready hid at the store and nabbed the Brigham City man and his cohort before they could commit their crimes and escape on the 10 o’clock train to Salt Lake City.

I can’t imagine not noticing a “planted” dictaphone. It must’ve been a messy room. I wonder how much recording time you get with one of those too. Lucky timing and great detective work, I guess.

Writing this makes me think of my old neighbor friend again. Once I stopped by while she was watching a movie with a switchboard scene. My eyes were on her TV when I heard her say sarcastically, “I suppose you don’t remember those days?” There’s a lot I wasn’t here for, but I love that I can still look at Rulon’s house and many other homes in Yalecrest and think about the people in our neighborhood and Salt Lake City’s History.


Rulon (the dictaphone salesman) and Bessie Davis once lived here.

—Kelly Marinan

Secrets of Old Homes

Winter street and 1931 Salt Lake TribuneJanuary 2013
Rather than returning the pipe insulation tape I bought for an issue elsewhere, I decided maybe I should take a look at the pipes in my Yalecrest home and see if I can use the stuff here. It’s been so cold. I tend to keep my house cooler in the winter than most people. (In fact, my brother and I were once asked if we were related to polar bears.) I knew the pipes were near the furnace room, originating from the little shelf basement on the north. Being fairly ignorant on fixer-upper stuff, I couldn’t differentiate the water and gas lines with just a glance. But, it wasn’t hard to figure out. And it looked like the water pipe could use some wrapping. I put it on my to-do list.

Last night I decided it was time to knock that item off the list. The fluorescent light in there burned out, maybe a year ago. I figured the fixture should be replaced, but what’s the hurry? I bet Bill (the guy I bought my house from) put it in when he remodeled the basement… back in the day when brightly colored shag carpeting was all the rage. He was quite the handyman. I loved that guy. He had his hand on my house and a couple homes across the street. And he pruned the roses of neighbors that lived in Yalecrest, but not on our block. The late Martha Tucker told me he moved his old garbage disposal from my home into hers before putting in a new one. I thought that was kind of funny. Those old folks were always re-using, never wasteful, environmentalists to some degree before their time. But I digress. Back to my work…

I propped open the doors, put on my head lamp and crawled in to wrap that pipe. The pipe comes up out of the ground and then turns 90 degrees. The vertical part was completely bare. I wrapped it up. The top part was covered with light brown paper. It reminded me of old packaging tape that lost its stickiness. It appeared partially unraveled, like it was ready to fall off. I started tearing it off in little pieces because it wasn’t coming off as easily as I expected. Then I realized I was tearing off pieces of newspaper too. Someone wrapped the pipes with NEWSPAPER?!! (I briefly envisioned a movie scene with a homeless person under a blanket of newspapers.)

After using up the insulated tape, I started cleaning up. I became curious if one of the newspaper scraps might reveal a date. The stuff was old, crumbly, dirty… and in very small chunks. But I found a date. The paper was from Feb. 1931! WOW! That means the first owner covered this pipe with newspaper… during the first winter after “our” home was built! Awesome good job, Peter Peterson Jr 2nd! [yes, that wasn’t a typo]

One neighbor told me another neighbor said (sounds like a friend-of-a-friend thing?) that “these are just tract homes.” I held my tongue. I was listening, trying to decipher if there was a hidden meaning behind the first utterance and in this new repetition. Well…. my thoughts today?

Spec home, tract home, WHATEVER.

I’d take a home on a block of mostly Doxey-Layton/Layton Construction homes built 1929-1930 over any of the “custom homes” today’s builders/architects have modified in Yalecrest. Our long dead builders thought about the whole community and they knew how to build them. I respect the quality, craftsmanship, character of their work. Not so much when it comes to certain builders today. That’s my opinion. Ha! 🙂

—Kelly Marinan