Completed in 1905 and home to the Salt Lake City Library for nearly 60 years, this classical Beaux-Arts style building was designed by the prominent New York City architecture firm of Heins and Lafarge.
Local Utah architect Frederick Albert Hale (who designed the adjacent Alta Club) served as the local architect and project manager. Expanded and modified to increase library capacity, the well-used facility closed in 1964 when a larger library was erected. A large private grant established the Hansen Planetarium with extensive modifications happening in the rear sections to create space for the hemispherical star chamber and introduction of a long-intended mezzanine. This popular ‘second life’ and use also out-grew the building and relocated in 2003.
Vacant for nearly five years, the National Register-listed building was purchased for restoration by the OC Tanner Company to serve as their flagship store. Consistent with the structure’s tradition as a free-standing building of great architectural and historical significance, MJSA developed the comprehensive construction documents to restore the building, both externally and internally. With approval from the Salt Lake City Landmarks Commission, OC Tanner has removed intrusive modifications, upgraded the building to resist predicted earthquakes, completely replaced all mechanical systems and restored interior historic features and materials long concealed. Analysis of the existing building structure, coupled with requirements of the mechanical upgrade, dictated replacement of the interior floor structure. Temporary bracing was designed by the structural engineer to secure the historic limestone-clad walls while new shear walls and steel-framed floor assemblies were inserted. The limestone, sandstone and terra cotta exterior has been fully restored with missing terra cotta decoration being carefully re-created based on historic photographs. The main west entry is being restored with matching oak entry doors and new sandstone stairs replicating those present at its grand opening in 1905. The structure will once again shine as the “magnificent structure” described by author E.V. Fohlin writing about Salt Lake City in 1908 in his book Salt Lake City Past and Present.