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Federal Heights: The 2010 Historic Homes Tour

Friday, 30 January 2009 14:17


Utah Heritage Foundation  held its annual Historic Homes Tour on May 1, 2010, from 10 AM to 5 PM in the Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City.  We thank all of the tour sponsors, the homeowners, housechairs, docents, volunteers, and everyone bought tickets and came to see eight wonderful homes this year.

In 1862, Fort Douglas was established and started development on the east bench of the valley. A road was built up the hill to the Fort, on what is now South Temple Street. The neighborhoods to the north and west of the fort were known as Butcherville, Popperton Place, Bonneville-on-the-Hill and Federal Heights and would eventually become the first luxury residential suburbs of Salt Lake City.

Telluride Real Estate, the prominent developer, called the new development "Federal Heights" originating from the period when the Federal Government of the United States established Fort Douglas in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains above Salt Lake City in order to keep an eye on the settlers.
Lucien Nunn, a Telluride company principal, had an innovative streak 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 many residents and visitors know, strayed from the standard gridiron pattern.
As was quite typical at the time, Telluride created its own restrictions on the property. As the property was developed these restrictions were used 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 20-foot restriction.

With Federal Heights, Telluride Realty created an image.  Interest in the neighborhood reached a fevered pitch and Telluride wanted to make sure that every family in Utah would want to own in Federal Heights or would be envious of those who did. Telluride constantly leaked information about the development to the Salt Lake Tribune, who seemed to fall over itself in praising the developer for ingenuity and design. The paper reported that by purchasing or building in Federal Heights, the owner received exclusivity, location, views, and status.
This combination of great advertising, architecture and planning worked. Most people who originally bought or built in Federal Heights were pillars of the community including many of Salt Lake's distinguished family names: Rosenblatt, Boyer, Steiner, Porter and Smoot. The architects represented in Federal Heights were also notable including Pope and Burton, Taylor Woolley, Slack Winburn, and Lloyd Snedaker. This combination of notable residents and architects created styles that ranged from Arts and Crafts and Prairie School to the Classical, Spanish, Georgian, Normandy, Tudor, and other types of Period Revivals.
Federal Heights remains one of Salt Lake City's most prestigious residential areas. The homes remain especially desirable because of their splendid historic character, resulting in architectural diversity and allure, and the noteworthy charm of the tree-lined, curving streets and sidewalks. Other Salt Lake City neighborhoods have been patterned after Federal Heights, including the Harvard/Yale area.