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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 28, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 30May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Historic Home of Former LDS Apostle Is Crumbling
Salt Lake Tribune 27May00 D6
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The historic 109-year-old house of former LDS Apostle John W. Taylor is crumbling, and will require $300,000 to $400,000 to fix. The 9,000-square-foot house on the corner of 700 East and 2700 South is now used as a boardinghouse for veterans, parolees, probationers and the disabled. And its current owners are trying to save and restore it.

The 16-bedroom home's interior has been largely refurbished, the non-profit John Taylor House II Inc. plowing $50,000 to $60,000 into new carpet and tile, refinishing ornately carved fireplace mantles and intricate stained-glass windows.

But the exterior is in bad shape. Rain gutters hang from the eaves, the original cupola is missing, and the stone-and-stucco facade is crumbling into dust. And masonry expert John Lambert gave the owners an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000 to fix it. "There's no question that it's a huge amount of money," says Lambert, a member of the Utah Heritage Foundation. "But the history of the building merits the investment. The uniqueness of the architecture merits the investment. And the uniqueness of the stone merits investment. I'm very attached to this house."

The house was built in 1891 by then-LDS Apostle John W. Taylor, son of LDS Church President John Taylor. A stockbroker and real estate agent, Taylor built the home to house his polygamous family, but only lived there a few years. The subsequent owners stayed until 1917 and Salt Lake City Mayor John Bowman lived there until the 1930s. But later the home became a bed-and-breakfast, and then a boardinghouse, an adolescent drug treatment center, and now a boardinghouse again.

Unfortunately, restoring the Romanesque revival home will not be easy. It isn't listed on any historic register, so not only will it have difficulty getting historic preservation funds, but the city or state historic preservation office won't supervise the work. This is a mixed blessing, however, as the current owners want to avoid the hassle. But raising that much money to restore the home will be difficult.

But the owners hope that the public and donors will think of it as an investment in the community, "You have to balance the cost with the historical value of the home," says Scott Bauer, who manages the boardinghouse. "This is one of 20 buildings in the whole valley that are of rich magnificence and splendor and historical value at the same time," says Lon Scow, trustee of John Taylor House II Inc. "We have to save it."

And Peggy Hepsak, who owns the home now, says that once the restoration is complete, she won't turn the building into a for-profit venture following a restoration, "That's not our intent," she says. "There's a lot of men who need this place. We provide a necessary service."

Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to John Taylor House II Inc., P.O. Box 526182, Salt Lake City, Utah 84152.


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