clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Utah's oldest home restored to recall historic past

MILLCREEK — It's not often you get to celebrate family heritage, along with state and national history in one fell swoop, but sometimes you hit the trifecta.

Scores of local residents gathered Friday to watch as the ceremonial ribbon was cut in commemoration of the final restoration of what has been documented as Utah's oldest residence still standing in its original location.

Built in 1848, the residence located at 1475 E. Murphy's Lane was home to Robert Gardner Jr., one of the first settlers to construct a sawmill on the waterway now called Mill Creek.

People tour the Gardner home in Millcreek on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. The home is the oldest Utah residence still standing in its original location. The 1848 home was built by Robert Gardner Jr., who was one of the first settlers to construct a sawmill on Mi
People tour the Gardner home in Millcreek on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. The home is the oldest Utah residence still standing in its original location. The 1848 home was built by Robert Gardner Jr., who was one of the first settlers to construct a sawmill on Mill Creek.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Listed among Utah sites on the National Register of Historic Places, the home has gone through several renovations over the years, said Robin Gardner Juvan, great-great-granddaughter of Robert Gardner Jr. It has been continuously occupied since it was first built, she added, though it has not always been in the Gardner family.

For the last couple of decades, Robert's direct descendant, Al Gardner, had planned to reacquire the home so it could be restored to its original condition and preserved as "a living museum," she said.

Once he was able to get the home back, Al's sister Sherill moved in, Juvan said. She has lived there since and been the caretaker throughout the restoration process, which began about six years ago.

Al Gardner spent $1.5 million on the restoration project but died before it was completed. Juvan said having the renovation completed is an emotional triumph he would have appreciated.

"I was able to help complete what my dad started. This is something that he has wanted since he was young," Juvan said holding back tears. "(After this project), I feel like I know my great-great-grandfather really well."

The restoration process uncovered the original foundation, she noted, which was built with river rock gathered from the creek running directly behind the house. She said the timbers from the original floor still have bark on them with raw cut marks of Utah’s first original sawmill. The rafters also have saw marks, which were made by the mill built and operated on Mill Creek, she added.

"It took (my father) 52 years to be able to purchase it," she said. "He really wanted it completed and I hope we did him justice in how it turned out."

Among the participants at the commemoration event were Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini, the Utah Historical Society, Salt Lake County, Reid Neilson of the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, along with numerous Gardner descendants.