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Tooele County Town Hall and Courthouse

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Write-up by Michael Anderson-McEwan

Placed by: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, No. 84, Utah American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and Tooele City Corporation, and The National Register of Historic Places

GPS coordinates: Latitude: 40.530757  Longitude: -112.297398

Photo Credit: picryl.com (Accessed 3.14.19)

Historical Marker Text (1):

Erected in 1867 as a county court house. Active in construction were James Hammond, William Broad, Isaac Lee, W.C. Collaher, John Gillespie, George Atkin and john Gordon. The building was used for court house, city hall and amusement center, until 1941, when the new city hall on Main Street was completed. Later the building was turned over to the daughters of Utah pioneers for use as an amusement and meeting hall. Rock used in building was taken from settlement canyon in Tooele County.

Historical Marker Text (2):

Dedicated to the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the United States of America and sponsored by the Utah American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and Tooele City Corporation. Built in 1867 as a meeting hall, this building also served as County Courthouse and City Hall, with a jail in the rear. In 1941, the building was given to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers who have maintained it as a museum. They and Tooele City have renovated the building.

 

Historical Marker Text (3):

This Greek Revival temple-form building was constructed in 1867 using local stone. The belfry, added sometime after 1874, is picturesque in style and has lathe-turned posts accentuated by scroll brackets, a distinctive spindle band, and a slightly bellcast pyramid roof. The hall was built, according to a newspaper article of the time, by the citizens of Tooele “for a dancing hall, for dramatic representations and other social and intellectual purposes.” It was leased to William C. Foster and Thomas Craft but was also used for holding court and other city and country business. Live entertainment, however, proved financially unsuccessful, and by 1871 the hall was utilized primarily as a courthouse. In 1899 a new courthouse was constructed, and the building became solely the city hall. In 1942, with the construction of a new city hall, it was authorized for use as a museum by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Marker placed in 1991.

Extended research:

The Tooele County Courthouse and City Hall was constructed in 1867 thanks to the combined efforts and planning of James Hammond, William Broad, Isaac Lee, W.C. Collaher, John Gillespie, George Atkin, and John Gordon (Atkin and Gillespie would later serve on one of Tooele City’s first city councils; see image). Using stone sourced from nearby Settlement Canyon, they constructed the only extant temple-form city hall in Utah (and the oldest known to date)¹ with the total cost for the initial construction and furnishing of the hall adding up to $600² ($10,884.91 adjusted for the 2018 inflation rate).³

Tooele City council featuring George Atkin and John Gillespie (3rd and 6th from the right) (Photo credit: Utah State Historical Society)

The hall was meant to be used as both a social and governmental space, but due to the lack of money in the territory⁴, few Tooele residents were able to scrape together the necessary $400 to rent out the building. The hall’s managers soon found themselves unable to make ends meet and they were forced to use the building and its furnishings as collateral to pay off overdue rent to the city, in April of 1871. From then on, it was used predominantly as the county’s city hall, jail, and courthouse⁵ and was used as such until the county built a new courthouse in 1899 and a new city hall in 1941.⁶

After city officials moved to the new city hall in 1942, they granted the Daughters of Utah Pioneers a 50-year lease on the property, which they converted into a museum of local history.⁷ An addition to the building in 1975 connected it to the adjacent Sons of Utah Pioneers Museum (formerly Carnegie library), creating what is today known as Pioneer Plaza. These two museums possess a wide array of artifacts from local history, including an entire log cabin (originally built in 1855) which occupies the lot next door to the courthouse where a fire station formerly stood.⁸

[1]National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form page 2

[2]Information from an interview I conducted on site with one of the Hall’s current docents, Judy Schneider

[3]“The Inflation Calculator,” Morgan Friedman, accessed March 15, 2019

[4]George W. Tripp, Early Tooele A Documented Chronology 1867-1874. Vol. II, 5, Accessed April 5, 2019.

[5]NRHP nomination form page 4

[6]Ouida Nuhn Blanthorn, A History of Tooele County (Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1998), 86-87, accessed March 14, 2019.

[7]NRHP Nomination form page 6

[8]Interview with Judy Schneider

For Further reference:

Primary sources:

Tooele City Council. 1850-1870. Utah State Historical Society Classified Photo Collection, Utah State Historical Society, Tooele. In Tooele City Council. UT: Utah State Historical Society, 2013. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Secondary sources:

Blanthorn, Ouida Nuhn. A History of Tooele County. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1998. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Friedman, Morgan. The Inflation Calculator. Accessed March 15, 2019.

Schneider, Judy. “On the History of Tooele County Courthouse and City Hall.” Interview by author. March 1, 2019.

Tripp, George W. Early Tooele A Documented Chronology 1867-1874. Vol. II. Accessed April 5, 2019.

United States. United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service. Tooele County Courthouse and City Hall. By UDSH Staff. National Park Service. 1-6. Accessed March 14, 2019.