This weekend's version of the Utah Heritage Foundation's annual home tour zeroes in on two historic - and, thanks to influences as far afield as California and India - distinctive neighborhoods: the Westminster Heights area of Sugar House and the Avenues.
Since 1966 the Utah Heritage Foundation has been dedicated to identifying and preserving the state's historic architectural resources. Besides allocating proceeds to the ongoing work of the foundation, the tour of the 14 privately owned, beautifully restored homes is intended to demonstrate the viability, comfort and unique character of living in a historic home.Most of this year's homes are early-1900s bungalows, patterned after the California style, without a stereotypical arrangement of rooms, and noted for craftsmanship, honesty and simplicity. But, as Tom Carter and Peter Goss note in their book "Utah's Historic Architecture, 1847-1940," the bungalow's origin has been traced even further - to India.
The bungalow, one of the most popular residences of 20th-century Utah, was intended to be "a comfortable-looking, low-profile house that communicated a sense of shelter," according to Carter and Goss. Some of the more notable bungalow structural features were exposed beams, rafters, purlins, shingles, bricks, cobblestones, dormers, casement windows and geometrically patterned leaded or stained-glass windows, and rough-textured stone piers supporting porch roofs.
The plans were usually open, informal and spatially economical. Often, the front door opened directly into the living room - and in simpler plans the living room opened directly into the dining room.
According to Don Hartley, historical architect at the Utah Historical Society, many bungalows had a story-and-a-half and a wide front porch all the way across the front. Many architects believe that the emphasis in the 1990s on craftsmanship and preservation is a direct inheritance of the bungalow style.
One exquisite example of the bungalows to be seen on the tour is the Roscoe M. Breeden house at 203 Fourth Ave. Presently owned by Theodore and Elizabeth Gurney, the home was built in 1909.
It is a large 11/4-story gabled-roof, shingled structure, including rafters, ridge beams and purlins extending beyond the roof line. The roof projects over the full-width inset porch, which includes wooden posts on cobblestone piers. In fact, cobblestone is also used in the retaining wall, and adds a great deal to the character of the home.
In addition, there are several planter boxes, a front facade dormer and a shed dormer on the west facade with exposed rafters.
A second example of a bungalow, at 1343 Westminster Ave., is a custom-built home originally occupied by Clark and Mary Dunshee. Today it is owned by Jerry and Sheila Bittle. Built in 1912, the dominant feature is a large porch supported by columns built with large granite boulders. The simple layout and spatial organization is reminiscent of the bungalow plans so common to California. The small room projecting off the front facade, with its chimney and fireplace, provides an excellent inglenook with leather seats.
The home has dark-stained exterior cedar shingles and features typical low roofs of the period, with large overhanging eaves. Minor changes have been made over the years. The living room has beautifully stained box beams in the ceiling, and the projecting inglenook extends along the entire south side of the structure.
Among the most unusual features of the home are its upstairs "sleeping apartment" and the blue-and-white breakfast nook off the dining room and kitchen. The use of earth tones throughout gives the home a feeling of comfort and restfulness.
There are attractive built-in bookcases and a metal-and-glass chandelier in the dining room. The geometric-shaped beaded glass windows with art glass and wall-mounted lanterns, together with a dimpled metal chandelier in the living room, add to the home's special qualities.
Rick and Laurie Summers currently own the Charles E. Hard home at 1369 Westminster Ave., built in 1915. The plan and exterior appearance look to be an exact copy of a bungalow designed by Arthur Heineman in California and published in "Sweet's Bungalows." The organization is rectangular, and the front door bisects the front wall and opens directly into the living room. The dining room is separated from the living room by a doorwaylike partition that symbolizes the transformation of space.
A "Swiss chalet" style, it has exposed beams and rafters with decorative chains holding the roof over the porch. Clinker brick, the type that was deformed from being too close to the fire during its formation, was prominently used in the home because of its organic qualities and its uneveness.
The casement windows are unique in their pattern, with a row of three small windows or window lights across the top of each. This motif is repeated in several places throughout the house. In fact, a similar window motif is used in most of the homes in Westminster Heights. Each house is designed with its own unique window light patterns - some with a series of four lights, some with six. This practice gives each home a type of fingerprint, distinguishing each home from the rest.
Another important feature unique to this home is the use of gum wood in the woodwork and the built-in buffet. Only one other home in the Westminster Heights area was built with gum wood. Most of the others are characterized by the use of dark-stained mahogany wood. The lighter stained gum wood in the Hard home creates a spacious feeling not common to rooms with a darker wood.
This bungalow-style home leaves a clear impression of informal living. The extended spaces of the living room flow into the adjacent dining room and then into the kitchen space. There are very large closets. One off the first bedroom is narrow and long and even contains a window. The second bedroom also has a very large walk-in closet.
There are other important craftsman features, such as the door, the hardware and the art glass found in the built-in bookcases and built-in buffet. The door hardware, especially the knocker, is an excellent example of arts and crafts geometric design. The art glass of the interior cabinetry contains creeping vines and ivy, thus meshing objects from nature found on or near the home into household items.
The other equally interesting and attractive homes listed on this tour are well worth the price of admission. They combine aesthetics with a powerful sense of local history.