Historic Shrines Not Junk Depots 

Historic Shrines Not Junk Depots 

AT THE RATE with which Utah’s old buildings are being memorialized, pretty soon most all the ancient edifices still standing will be enshrined by the National Register of Historic Places.  Some of the buildings recently given such recognition are as follows: the Beaver County Courthouse, Cove Fort, , the Territorial Capitol at Fillmore, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, the old Washington County Courthouse and the ZCMI cast iron facade. Previously a score or more old pioneer structures were given place on the register. 

Historic Shrines Not Junk Depots 
Beaver County Courthouse

All these places merit the recognition given and then some. The Beaver County Courthouse was built in 1876 and became the seat of the Second Judicial District of Utah Territory.  Cove Fort was built in 1867 by Mormon settlers during the Black Hawk War and has been restored by the Alice T. Kesler family of Fillmore.

Fort Deseret, via wikimedia.org

Fort Deseret was built in 1866 by the Mormon settlers as protection from Indian raids during the Black Hawk War and is owned by the Utah State Parks and Recreation Service. The Territorial Capitol, built in 1854-55, housed the Utah Legislature in 1855-58. St. Mark’s Cathedral was constructed in 1870 and was the first non-Mormon church in Salt Lake City. It is still used by the Episcopal Church. 

ZCMI’s cast iron facade was begun in 1868 and later expanded. The front facade is the original and is being preserved by Zions Securities Corporation, building owner. The Washington County Courthouse, built between 1866 and 1870, was used until 1969 as a courthouse and is now an information center operated by Washington County. 

Utah has applied for $270,000 in federal restoration funds for the preservation of these historic places. 

This is a tremendously important project in our historic annals but it could become commonplace without proper precautions. Unfortunately efforts to preserve and restore such buildings get caught up in a lot of sentimentality, which could turn truly historical structures into little more than depots for piles of junk donated by well-meaning but historically inept patrons.

 Many of these good people cannot understand why a century-old and hallowed edifice cannot be the final repository for grandmother’s old sewing machine or grandfather’s ancient rocking chair. Tons of this commonplace stuff is being dumped onto these historic buildings and nobody seems to have the courage to tell these donors that they cannot possibly accept all this mass of antiquity for lack of space and significance. The caliber of displays in these places must be kept most exclusive.

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