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Federal Heights: Historic Homes Tour 2001

Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:22
2001htwebMormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. They camped in what is now Pioneer Park. Development and growth of the city moved east to State Street. As the city grew, so did the annoyance with the slaughter yards. They were soon moved to the east bench near Virginia Street to what was called "Butcherville." On May 19, 2001, Utah Heritage Foundation opened this neighborhood for exploration, showcasing nine exquiste historic homes.

In 1862 Fort Douglas was established. A road was built up the hill to the Fort, on what is now South Temple Street. Most of the butchers eventually moved and brickyards replaced them.

Charles Popper, a butcher, operated the only soap and candle business between San Francisco and Omaha. He spent a great deal of his time trying to exploit the property, and while it took an act of Congress to recognize his title of the property, he succeeded. The area would be called "Popperton Place." Charles Popper sold the property and it changed hands a few times before it became profitable. The areas known as Bonneville-on-the-Hill and Federal Heights would eventually become the first luxury residential suburbs of Salt Lake City and Telluride Real Estate was the primary developer.

Telluride Real Estate called the new development "Federal Heights" in reference to the government's ownership of the property and its proximity to neighboring Fort Douglas. Luciene Nunn, a Telluride principal, had an innovative touch and created a street pattern that would take advantage of the sloping site. The narrow curved streets were a first in Salt Lake City, which as any resident or visitor knows, strictly follows a gridiron pattern.

As was quite typical at the time, Telluride created its own restrictions on the property. As Telluride developed the property it then used the restrictions as a marketing tool to encourage buyers to select Federal Heights for their home,

  • No apartment houses, flats, double houses, or businesses; only segregated private residences.
    The cost of each residence must be at least $4,000 (most were more than double that amount).
    No building shall be less than 25 feet from the front line, with the exception of a few lots which were granted a 2o-foot restriction.

The restrictions expired in 1927, but most of the lots had been developed by then, and the restrictions were never resurrected.

Telluride did what no other developer did so well, it created an image. Interest in Federal Heights would reach a fevered pitch. Telluride wanted to make sure that every family in Utah would want to own in Federal Heights and/or would be envious of those who did. Telluride constantly leaked information about the development to the Salt Lake Tribune, almost falling over itself in praising the developer for ingenuity and design. By buying in Federal Heights, the owner received exclusivity, location, views, and status.

While Federal Heights was getting underway, there were only a few houses in Popperton Place to the north. Most of the houses in Popperton Place were built in the 1920's and 1930's when the adjoining Bonneville-on-the-Hill was developed by James Hogle. What was once "Popperton Place," "Bonneville-on-the-Hill," and "Federal Heights," is now known as "Federal Heights." Most current residents would not know whether their home was a part of any of the former specified developments, but would rather refer to their neighborhood as Federal Heights.

Most people who bought or built in Federal Heights, were for the most part, pillars of the community. Many of Salt Lake's famous family names were represented: Rosenblatt, Boyer, Steiner, Porter and Smoot. The architects represented in Federal Heights were also notable, including Pope and Burton, Taylor Woolley and Lloyd Snedaker. This combination of notable residents and architects created styles that ranged from Arts and Crafts and Prairie School to Spanish Mission, Georgian, Normandy, Tudor, and Period Revivals.

Federal Heights remains one of Salt Lake City's most prestigious residential areas. The homes are especially desirable because they were not all built at the same time, resulting in architectural diversity and charm. Other Salt Lake City neighborhoods have been patterned after Federal Heights, including the Harvard/Yale area.

The Federal Heights neighborhood is a beautiful area. Utah Heritage Foundation is pleased to share this area with you. We hope you will enjoy the winding streets, landscaping, and especially the rich history and architecture.