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Salt Lake City has a new Christmas gift by way of the recently renovated Hotel Plandome. This infusion of life on the corner of State Street and 400 South eclipses the sordid past that has plagued that corner for many years.

The original building was designed by architect Richard K.A. Kletting and constructed in 1902 for Albert Fisher at an estimated cost of $25,000. Fisher, born in Germany in 1852, was a Jewish immigrant. In 1884 he established the Albert Fisher Brewery. His mansion at 1206 W. 200 South is just west of the brewery and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.The Hotel Plandome was originally constructed to house the Utah Federation of Labor and its affiliated unions. In its February 1, 1904, edition, the Salt Lake Tribune offered the following description:

"The west half of the second and third stories is occupied with an auditorium, or assembly hall, with a spacious gallery. This auditorium has a seating capacity of 500 and will be used for special meetings, balls and other entertainments, the main floor being suitable for dancing. Its seating capacity is nearly 200 greater than that of any other available hall in the city, aside from the theaters, and it will fill a long-felt need in this direction.

"On the front half of the second floor are three lodgerooms and a reception room, while on the third floor are two more lodgerooms and an office and living rooms for the federation's building manager, Carl Ostby, a veteran member of the organization representing the Tailor's Union. The interior walls throughout the union's quarters are all finished in pure white, with high wainscotings in deep red, making a beautiful effect. The arrangement is a model of convenience, and all the rooms have high ceilings and a good outside view from broad windows. The Electrician's Union will see to the installing of the most modern lighting plant with artistic fixtures."

In 1913 Albert Fisher remodeled the building into a hotel and named it the Hotel Plandome. The Federation of Labor moved into another building. In its September 21, 1913, issue, the Tribune described the new hotel: "Artistically refurnished, offering every modern convenience at reasonable rates, the Hotel Plandome has been opened under the management of Mrs. Riddle, formerly of the Hall Hotel. The Plandome is . . . the latest addition to Salt Lake's up-to-date hostelries. Comfortable and attractive rooms, single or en suite, with or without bath, will be offered at reasonable rates by the day, week or month. The Plandome makes a specialty of serving breakfast for the convenience of its guests."

Today the building is one of 10 in the National Historic Exchange Place District.

Building developer Kip Paul is converting the upper floors to office space, which should be ready for occupancy in a few weeks. The main floor has three new tenants, Mogules Restaurant, Helen Paul Watercolors Gallery and Melange Gallery.

The exterior is repainted in a warm gray with white cornices and trim, and the floor castings are colorfully detailed in salmon pink, green and white. Additional details such as the lion's head above the columns and the central cast-iron column at the southeast entry are small bonuses that add interest to the building.

The developer assured me there is much yet to be done, such as the addition of a streetscape, i.e., brick pavers, trees and awnings on the windows.

The Utah Historical Society, though pleased that the building has begun restoration, feels that more concern should have been given to the windows, storefronts, signage and fixtures to keep the building more in keeping with the original design.

This is a bright spot on a street that has struggled desperately over the years to maintain its integrity. Those involved are to be congratulated - this small gift is one that brings visual and functional vitality back to our cityscape.