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Nothing but the bare bones remains of the historic Forest Dale Golf Course clubhouse, which is midway through a makeover.

The city is spending $1.2 million to renovate the 88-year-old building at 2375 S. 900 East and an adjacent parking lot.Renovation, however, is a loose term relating to the building, which was the first golf clubhouse built in Utah.

A Martin Yack Construction crew had to strip the clubhouse down to its timbers because of the building's deteriorated condition. From this skeletal stage, the clubhouse will be restored in a Spanish revival-style to look exactly as it did when first built nearly nine decades ago.

"We knew from the outset we would have to go down to the timbers," said Dick Alexander, Salt Lake City golf manager. "The walls weren't sufficient to stay up."

Michael Leventhal, director of the Utah Heritage Foundation, called the project "heartening."

"As the first clubhouse in Salt Lake City, it is truly a gem both architecturally and as a symbol for a sport that has grown with great popularity here in the area," Leventhal said.

The Forest Dale Golf Course sits on what was once the site of a brick kiln. Apparently, no one knows who first proposed the Forest Dale course. The historic clubhouse, built in 1906, was designed by architect Frederick Hale.

Salt Lake Country Club members bought the course in 1907 and operated it until 1924, when the club sold it to Salt Lake City. In 1958 the city agreed to sell 641/2 acres of the course to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for $567,680.

The church wanted the site for the Salt Lake campus of Brigham Young University.

The city planned to use the proceeds of the sale to build two new golf courses - an 18-hole course at Mountain Dell and nine holes at Rose Park.

The sale triggered protests and lawsuits from some residents, who questioned the legality of the transaction. The Utah Supreme Court upheld the deal, however. The church rented the property to the city until 1972, when it sold the course back to Salt Lake City.

The clubhouse was declared a historic landmark in 1982, and that same year, city officials and community members began discussing the need to renovate the structure.

Most restoration projects don't require the dramatic overhaul under way on the clubhouse, Leventhal acknowledged.

"This is a case where the architectural design of the building is of the importance, rather than the materials used," Leventhal said. "It will come back as a stronger version of the original building."

Restoring the building to its original state will give "a sense of class to the city, to the neighborhood and to the sport," Leventhal said.

Work on the clubhouse began in May and is expected to be finished in January, according to Alex-an-der.

The 8,500-square-foot building will include a golf pro shop, a snack bar, a public meeting room and administrative offices for the city's golf program.

Meanwhile, the Forest Dale staff is working out of a temporary shed on the back of the first tee.

"We are open and welcome all the business we can get," said Cory Robert, assistant golf professional.

The construction work has not deterred golfers.

"We've been as steady as ever," Robert said. "We have a lot of faithful players."

The city also is renovating the golf course's parking lot. That requires the city to set up a temporary parking area on two tennis courts south of the clubhouse. Once the original parking lot is rebuilt, crews will tear out the tennis courts and extend the lot over the space.

The city is paying for the renovation project with $1.2 million from a revenue bond issued for construction of Franklin Quest Field. Most of the money for the renovation - $700,000 - will be repaid from the city's recreation fund. Another $500,000 will come out of the city's general fund.

The city divided the cost of the renovation between the two budgets because the clubhouse includes a public meeting room.