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Millcreek Journal

New Millcreek Historic Commission ready to protect and preserve historic resources

May 30, 2022 04:33PM ● By Deb Schoenberg Hafner

By Deb Schoenberg Hafner | [email protected]

The Gardner residence in Millcreek is the oldest Utah home still standing in its original location. It was restored to its original appearance by Robert Gardner Jr.’s great-great granddaughter and gained official historic designation when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

The Gardner house, located at 1475 E. Murphys Lane, was built on the site of Salt Lake’s first saw mill in 1848. Robert Gardner’s descendants formed a foundation and boot-strapped the renovation for years on their own.

This is a task that Millcreek officials are hoping they can help with—giving an assist to residents and homeowners who want to identify, restore and preserve historic homes.

In May, which was coincidentally deemed Historic Preservation Month by the National Register of Historic Places, Millcreek launched its own Historic Preservation Commission, tasked with seeking out historically important homes and buildings in Millcreek, getting them listed on the National Register, and putting protections in place to ensure they are around for future generations to enjoy.

Additionally, the commission is tasked with advising the community on the protection of cultural resources, and working with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to preserve historic sites.

The creation of the commission was the first step for Millcreek to become a Certified Local Government (CLG). As a CLG, Millcreek will be able to apply for federal grants for historic preservation, and will be able to take advantage of other federal and state incentives and tax benefits to promote the preservation of historic buildings and sites.

The commission is made up of seven members, one from each city council district and three at-large members. Many interested volunteers applied for the available seats when Mayor Jeff Silvestrini announced the city’s plans to form a preservation commission. The final group of appointees includes an historian, an architect, a curator, a museum manager, and an environmental engineer, as well as self-identified local history buffs.

The members of the new committee are Peter Brinton, Kaye Donahoe, Molly Enos, Tiffany Hunter Greene, Emily Johnson, Ryan Lufkin and Andrea Maxfield.

Lufkin is a direct descendant of John Scott, one of the first settlers to live in Millcreek. Lufkin says there is a “really rich history around Millcreek, being the summer getaway area for Salt Lake residents during the turn of the century.” He wants to help “protect the treasures that we know are out there so we don’t lose them.”

Donahoe lives in Old Farm, which was originally called Hill Farm in 1854. The grounds belonged to the Hogle family, who built a summer house there, and there are still a few buildings left. The original Hill Farm house was destroyed when 700 East was widened, and Donahoe, enthralled with the rich history of Old Farm, hopes to get protections in place for the remaining historic sites.

When Millcreek was incorporated as a city, it inherited Salt Lake County's Historic Preservation Ordinance. The ordinance fell short of the preservation efforts desired by Millcreek officials. At the time, only four structures were identified as historic, and there were no protections in place for those or future buildings.

The four homes in the original ordinance are the Gardner Residence and the Edward Pugh House (1299 E. 4500 South, designated in 1978). Next door to the Pugh house sits the Butler/Wallin House (1045 E. 4500 South, designated in 2005) and the Mill Creek Farmhouse (1106 E. 4500 South).

The Evergreen Avenue Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, but was not recognized in the inherited Salt Lake County ordinance, along with several other homes that are also on the National Register. 

Ten homes and one district in Millcreek are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the new commission is tasked with identifying the myriad other buildings and places that can be registered.

The Susanna Bradford Mansion, also known as Oakwood, was the first electrically lighted home in the area. It is located at 2610 Evergreen Ave. and was designated in 1979.

 The Nathaniel Baldwin Home, located at 2374 E. Evergreen Ave. in the Evergreen Avenue Historic District, was designated in 1985. Nathaniel Baldwin is credited with inventing headphones. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District is also home to the Baldwin Radio Factory, which manufactured Baldwin’s headphones and produced them for the war effort during World War I. The factory, which was built in the early 1900s, and was renovated and reused to house businesses, a process coined “adaptive reuse” by preservationists.

The Ernie and Irmgard Bourne House at 3460 E. Ranch View Drive was designated in 2016.

The Roberta Sugden House, designated in 2016, is located at 1810 E. Orchard Drive. It is a glass house designed by John Sugden, one of Utah’s most influential modern architects, for his mother.

The Amanda Conk Best House, at 3622 S. 1100 East, was built in 1896 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Also known as the Boyle House, the Beal House, and the Aoki House, it is a brick Queen Anne style house.

The Fish-Baughman House, designated in 2016, is a one-story, California ranch-style house at 3436 E. Ranch View Drive built in 1955. A partly pre-fabricated structure, it was deemed significant because Cliff May, the architect famous for designing and marketing the infamous post-war “dream homes” designed it.

The Burtch W. Jr. and Susan Beall House, located at 4644 S. Brookwood Circle, is the most recently listed home on the National Register of Historic Places, receiving its designation on April 12, 2021.

There are many other buildings and homes throughout Millcreek that are recognized by the State Office of Historic Preservation and Preservation Utah. They include the Libby Edwards School, the East Millcreek School, the Old Farm homestead, the Iceberg Drive In, Wasatch Lawn Entry, several post-modern homes and many older Victorian homes.

Preservationists talk about the importance of saving historical homes for the architecture and historical relevance, but they also tell of the vital necessity these buildings play in preserving a sense of place. Members of the new commission hope to do just that—preserve and protect as well as continue to develop, as Lufkin says, that real “Millcreek feel.”