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CONTROVERSY SWIRLS OVER RAZING OF HISTORIC HOME

The City Historic Preservation Commission said city officials broke a promise by not informing commission members before a historic home was turned to rubble Friday.

Leslie Foy, a member of the commission, said Councilwoman Barbara Holt and Mayor Dean Stahle told him the commission would be informed before the historic Palmer home, built in 1874 at 515 S. Second West, was torn down. Foy said the commission wanted to document and photograph the home's interior before it was destroyed.The city engineer's office issued a demolition permit last Wednesday and the home, listed on the National Historic Register, was ripped down Friday, said Gary Reynolds of Reynolds Bros., a local demolition firm.

No one from the city ever contacted Foy or other commission members.

"There were no guarantees," Holt said Tuesday about Foy's statements.

The City Council does not want to hinder the sale of property between private parties to preserve historic structures. The only time that the council would become involved is when the city could afford to purchase the property and finance its own preservation project. The city could not afford to get involved in this project, Holt said.

Holt said that the commission was told of the city's position, and members were told to contact the city attorney's office to assist in their effort to help save the structure.

Foy also admitted that commission may also bear part of the blame for the home's destruction because it failed to pursue an offer by the developers to consider restoring or rehabilitating the home. No one from the commission ever contacted the developers after they made the offer during an interview with the Deseret News.

No one at the Boise-based Cantlon Properties could comment Wednesday on the decision to tear down the home.

The 6.5-acre site where the home stood will include a 40,500-square-foot Albertson's supermarket and strip mall. One of two free-standing commercial buildings is planned for the home site.

Construction is expected to begin this fall, and the food store is scheduled to open in May or June of 1990.

Foy said the home is one of the last adobe structures dating from the 19th century that was left in Bountiful. Foy, author of a book about Bountiful history and a history teacher at South Davis Junior High School, said the destruction of the Palmer home and two other historic structures in the city this year concerns him.

"This is frustrating to me. There seems to be a blatant disregard for our history. I don't want to slow down progress, but I thing that it is important to at least record things that pertain to our past," Foy said.

The Palmer home was built in 1874 by Wilber Burnham. It was later sold to James Foss Townsend and passed on to Joseph Morris Palmer, who married Townsend's daughter. It was one of the few houses from Utah's pioneer period that is a "temple form" house inspired by Greek Revivalism, according to its National Historic Register application.

Descendants of Joseph Morris Palmer sold the property, which includes several newer homes, to Cantlon.