Devereaux House

By: Kenny Son 

Place by: Salt Lake City Triad Center

Utah Coordinates: Latitude: 40.769949, Longitude: -111.901035

Historical Marker Text:

          “Devereaux House was Salt Lake City’s earliest mansion and in its day, the most elegant. As a unique mansion in an isolated frontier city, the Devereaux was the setting of many social gatherings that included prominent local citizens and important national and international visitors. Portions of the house date from 1855, only eight years after the first arrival of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. Extensively added to and remodeled in the 1870’s, the Devereaux House estate featured the mansion, extensive ornamental gardens, a kitchen garden, hothouses, vineyards, orchards, stables, and a carriage house. Owner William Jennings was a patron of the arts and furnished the interior with items collected during trips throughout the United States and abroad. The coming of the railroad later turned this part of Salt Lake City into a commercial and industrial area, and for many years the mansion stood as a forlorn shell of its former glory. On March 1, 1971 the Devereaux House was listed on the National Register of Historic places and, in 1978, the Utah State Legislature purchased the property for future renovation. Three years later, the State and Triad Center entered into an agreement whereby Triad would maintain and manage the area once the buildings and grounds were restored.  With Federal, State, Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, and private funds, the Devereaux house, Carriage House, and gardens have been reconstructed for the benefit of present and future Utahns.”

Extended Research: 

The Devereaux Mansion, located on 334 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah, was built for Utah Resident William Staines in the year 1857. The home is significant because it was the first mansion built in Utah Territory. It was the center of social gatherings in the valley for much of the nineteenth century.[1]

Architect William Paul’s first project in Salt Lake City was the Devereaux House, a Victorian style mansion with unique features. The outside of the home consisted of a masonry cement plaster wall reaching two stories high. The interior included many beautiful kinds of wood, such as mahogany. The home is two stories tall with a west wing intersecting north to south. Long time resident William Jennings added new features to the house, such as a sizeable east wing and several outbuildings. Decorations surrounding the home included floral gardens, orchards, and a greenhouse.[6] Gates were added around the perimeter of the house to make it private.[7]

Eventually, the house would go through several different owners. In 1865 Staines sold the home to Joseph A. Young who was the son of Brigham Young. Later, Young sold the house to William Jennings, a prominent businessman and future mayor of Salt Lake City.[4] Jennings is responsible for giving the home the name “Devereaux Mansion” in remembrance of his childhood home in England.

Jennings was born in Birmingham, England, and spent 26 years there before moving to the United States. He earned his education primarily in England. He first moved to New York, and later to Missouri where he entered the cattle business. He arrived in Utah in 1852, and established a textile mill. After spending time in the mill business, he slowly transitioned to banking. Specifically, he became a stockholder and later director of the Deseret National Bank. He later became vice-president and director, and then was influential in establishing the co-operative mercantile business recognized as Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution.[2] Jennings was known in Utah as a pioneer industrial leader, Salt Lake mayor, and allegedly Utah’s first millionaire.[3] 

Jennings practiced polygamy and had two wives who both moved into the Devereaux home in 1867 to live with him. His wives Jane Walker and Pricilla Paul, both occupied the home at the same time until Pricilla passed away in 1871. Jane then took care of both her and Pricilla’s combined fifteen children.

Jennings was known to have many significant people stay in his home, such as William Seward, who was the U.S. Secretary of State. President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia Boggs Grant visited the house for several hours during their visit to Utah. Also, President Rutherford B. Hayes, with general William T. Sherman visited the home. After Jennings died in 1886, his family sold the house after living there for several years.[5]

During the great depression, the J. J. Coan family resided in the mansion for some time but it was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair. Decades later, a group of civic and preservation minded organizations formed a committee in hopes of restoring the dilapidated mansion. The committee consisted of Junior League of Salt Lake City, the Utah Heritage Foundation, Salt Lake City Historic Buildings Advisory Committee, Women’s Architectural League, the Utah American Institute of Architects, the Board of State History, and the Utah State Historical Society.[8] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the home in 2005 and uses it on occasion for receptions and other functions.

References

Primary Source: 

  1. “Deveraux House,” Utah National Register Collection, (March 1971), https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6894vj4
  2. “In Memorium, William Jennings,” Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, accessed April 4, 2020, https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s62z1vt8.

Secondary Source: 

  1. Roberts, Allen D.  More of Utah’s Unknown Pioneer Architects: Their Lives and Works (Sunstone Magazine, 1976), 53, https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/003-42-56.pdf.

[1] “Deveraux House,” Utah National Register Collection, (March 1971): 2, https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6894vj4

[2] “In Memorium, William Jennings,” Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, accessed April 4, 2020, https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s62z1vt8.

[3] Allen D. Roberts, More of Utah’s Unknown Pioneer Architects: Their Lives and Works (Sunstone Magazine, 1976), 53, https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/003-42-56.pdf.

[4] Devereaux House, Utah National, 2.

[5] Deveraux House, Utah National3. 

[6] Robert’s, More of Utah’s, 53.

[7] Devereaux House, Utah National, 2.

[8] Devereaux House, Utah National, 2.

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