Historic Devereaux Mansion

Historic Devereaux Mansion

This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 1972 Issue of Pioneer Magazine

Now and at long last nominated as a Utah Pioneer Historic Landmark is the once historic and picturesque Devereaux House, on the north side of South Temple Street between Second and Third West in Salt Lake City. It was built sometime in the early 1860s by William C. Staines and backed by William Jennings, pioneer industrialist, merchant and philanthropist.

Staines, one of Utah’s first scientific horticulturists, built the home deep in the center of a two-and-a-half acre plot in the middle of the block. Here he also developed an orchard and flower garden which was the envy of all who saw them and became a show-place for many visitors.

The place was by no means a typical pioneer cottage. In 1865 it was sold to Joseph A. Young, the eldest son of Brigham Young. Two years later Jennings purchased the mansion, and developed and improved it to its ultimate splendor and glory.

After acquiring the property, Jennings also acquired lots to the east and west until the property covered more than half of the city block. Under the direction of Jennings, the gardens were transformed from informal gardens to formal ornamental grounds of a palatial residence.

The house was a masterpiece for that day (or any other day). Its architecture was distinctly English but strangely enough was built of adobe plastered on the outside. Mr. Jennings had the wagon boxes of his freighting business built of hardwoods from the east—so that on arrival in the city, they could be used for the ornamental woodwork for which the mansion became famous.

In addition to numerous bedrooms, the house boasted a huge kitchen, scullery and pantry, a central and wide staircase, carved bannisters and newel posts. Back of the parlor was a large ballroom; French doors opened from the ballroom to the garden.

Many of the country’s elite in government service, the theater and industry were dined and billeted in the Devereaux House. All this magnificence was created within 20 years of the founding of the territory of Deseret.

Modern living has rendered the old mansion passé and now only the stout gray walls of one of America’s great pioneer mansions still stand. But it may soon be restored and what a restoration this would be!

 

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