Category Archives: Summit

Egyptian Theater with Sundance Film Festival on Marquee

Park City Egyptian Theater

Published / by Jesse Labastida / 1 Comment on Park City Egyptian Theater

write-up by Jesus Labastida Munguia

Placed by: Park City Centennial Commission

GPS Coordinates: 40.6425°N 111.495°

Historical Marker Text (1):  



The Egyptian Theater

In the early 1900’s Park City’s social and entertainment needs were served by a number of flourishing theaters and social halls. When the Dewey Theater, originally on this site, collapsed under a heavy snow load, John Rugar replaced it with the Egyptian Theater built in 1926. It was designed to seat 400 and to accommodate both movies and vaudeville. It became the first “sound movie” theater in Park City.

After being remodeled in 1963, the building opened as the Silver Wheel Theater and old fashioned “meller dramas” were performed for the next fifteen years. In 1978 the building’s architectural integrity was threatened by an attempt to change its facade to a western motif. Preservation of its distinctive Egyptian features was achieved, however, when the building became the home of Park City Performances in 1981.

The Egyptian Revival Style represents a unique period architecture which peaked in America around 1930. Egyptian theaters are rare, and this is one of only two remaining in Utah. Originally the interior contained replicas of Egyptian artifacts. This is a masonry structure with   a false front shield its hip roof. Tiles at the base of the ticket booth and pilasters in obelisk shape reinforce the Egyptian Motif.

Presented by the Park City Centennial Commission, 1984

Egyptian Theater with Sundance Marquee.

Extended Research:

The Egyptian Theater is an iconic fixture of Utah’s Park City community, standing prominently on Main Street. Its edifice is a beautiful representation of its Egyptian Revival architecture. The history of the Egyptian Theater is just as colorful as its outside design. The site where it is located has had a longstanding reputation for being the place in Park City where members of the community could congregate to enjoy entertainment provided through local theater and arts.[1]

Main Street Egyptian Theatre at Night.

The history of the Egyptian theater traces its roots all the way to “the Big Fire of 1898.” The fire tore through Park City’s now historical Main Street creating a site that two businessmen, David Keith and James Ivers, found suitable to construct the Dewey Theatre– the very first iteration of the Egyptian Theater. The Dewey Theater was known for showcasing the best professional fighters and travelling theatrical troupes of the time. The old Dewey Theater even boasted a barbershop, a candy store, and a state-of-the-art floor that could be raised and lowered to suit the needs of the theater. Sadly, the reign of the famous Dewey Theater would come to an end in 1916 after a heavy snowpack that accumulated on the roof caused it to cave-in. Fortunately, the collapse took place after closing time and no one was injured.[2]   

In 1926, a new theater was constructed at the old Dewey Site under a $50,000 contract.[3] The theater was designed in the style of Ancient Egyptian architecture and motifs, heavily influenced by a craze in Egyptology following the discovery of King Tutt’s tomb. The Egyptian theater offered picture shows as well as theatre performances for enjoyment. The erection of the theatre was heavily dependent on the growing demand for entertainment in Park City. John Ruger spearheaded the development project and maintained ownership until 1948 when he sold the theater to Russ Dodderman. Shortly after several changes in management, owners renamed the playhouse the Lu Ann Theater for a period thereafter.[4]

City Officials in Front of the Silver Wheel Theater.

Much like the rest of the nation in the 20th century, Utah saw developments of movie theaters across the state. Many theaters of the early 20th century utilized the previous playhouse and opera house buildings and revamped the theater’s edifice with attention grabbing design motifs ranging from Spanish Colonial revival to Neoclassical architecture. This sudden possibility of movie-going ushered in a new era of connection to Main Street. The Egyptian Theater in Park City is one of two remaining Egyptian Revival theaters in the state, the other is the Peery’s Egyptian Theatre in Ogden, Utah. The attention-grabbing Egyptian architecture seen at the Egyptian Theaters are reflective of the novel craze of movie-going that took place across the United States; it is loud, exciting, and demands the attention of all who walk by it.[5]

By 1959, Art Durrant purchased the playhouse and ran it for a little more than three years before he became burnt out from managing the theater. He subsequently sold the property to a theater management company named Silver Wheel Enterprises. Silver Wheel Enterprises decided to change the name of the location once more to the Silver Wheel Theater for its opening in 1963. The Silver Wheel Egyptian theater would go through many similar changes in management and changes in entertainment, eventually becoming home to the Park City Performances (PCP), a local community theatre organization.[6]

In the twenty first century the Egyptian Theater is a historical testament to Park City’s love for entertainment. The theater today is used for community performances and film viewing, as it is one of Sundance Film Festival’s most desirable venues, where highly praised filmmakers are invited to showcase their films.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

City Officials in Front of the Silver Wheel Theater (Egyptian Theater), Park City, Utah (2 Views). Photograph. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Dewey Theater Changes Hands.” Salt Lake Tribune. February 20, 1910.

Egyptian-American Theaters Change Hands.” Park Record. March 11, 1948.

New Silver Wheel Enterprises Buys Lu Ann Theater in Park.” Summit County Bee and Park Record. March 4, 1963.

New Theatre Will Be On Dewey Site.” Park Record, July 2, 1926.

Silver Mill, Theater Group near Agreement on Egyptian.” Park Record. September 22, 1983. 

Secondary Sources:

“About Us.” Park City Shows. Egyptian Theatre, December 11, 2021.

 Carter, Thomas, and Peter L. Goss. “Egyptian Revival 1920-1930.” In Utah’s Historic Architecture, 1847-1940: A Guide, 135–35. Salt Lake City, UT, Utah: Center for Architectural Studies, Graduate sic School of Architecture, University of Utah, & Utah State Historical Society, 1991.

Roper, Roger. “Going to the Movies: A Photo Essay of Theaters.” Utah Historical Quarterly 67, no. 2 (1999): 111–22.

[1] Carter, Thomas, and Peter L. Goss. “Egyptian Revival 1920-1930. In Utah’s

Historic Architecture, 1847-1940: A Guide, 135–35. Salt Lake City, UT, Utah: Center for

Architectural Studies, Graduate sic School of Architecture, University of Utah, & Utah

State Historical Society, 1991.

[2] “New Silver Wheel Enterprises Buys Lu Ann Theater in Park.” Summit County Bee and Park Record. March 4, 1963.

[3] “New Theatre Will Be On Dewey Site.” Park Record, July 2, 1926.

[4] “New Theatre Will Be On Dewey Site.” Park Record, July 2, 1926.

[5] Roper, Roger. “Going to the Movies: A Photo Essay of Theaters.” Utah Historical Quarterly 67, no. 2 (1999): 111–22.

[6] “Silver Mill, Theater Group near Agreement on Egyptian.” Park Record. September 22, 1983.

Echo Canyon Breastworks

Published / by Christopher Rich / 1 Comment on Echo Canyon Breastworks

Write-up by Christopher Rich

Placed by: Boy Scouts of America Troop 681 and 738.  Funded by Summit County Restaurant Tax and Summit County Historical Society. The aging wood was replaced with steel in 2015 by the Summit County Historical Society.

GPS Coordinates: 41.008377, -111.380923

Photo Credit: Christopher Rich

Historical Marker Text:

The Echo Canyon Breastworks were constructed during the autumn of 1857 under the direction of Daniel H. Wells, commander of the Mormon militia.  They were set atop high cliffs where they would provide the greatest advantage against possible attack by Johnston’s Army during the Utah War (1857-58).  This 2,500 man force was sent by President James Buchanan to silence what was perceived to be a rebellion by the Mormons.

The dry masonry wall, constructed of uncut stones stacked on random courses without mortar were 1 to 2 feet above ground and 4 to 12 feet in length.  These fortifications stretched some 12 miles along the [sic] section of Echo Canyon.  These breastworks were part of a larger defensive network that included plans to dam the creek to force the troops against the canyon wall where the breastworks are located, and large trenches across the canyon to impede the passage of horses and men.

More than 1,200 men worked together completing the breastworks on the cliffs in a matter of a few weeks.  However, the peaceful resolution of the Utah War in the early summer of 1858 rendered the fortifications unnecessary.

Extended Research:

The Utah War of 1857-58 was grounded in a dispute between Latter-day Saints and the federal government concerning the extent of local sovereignty.  Utah was organized as a territory as part of the Compromise of 1850.  While this permitted the citizens of Utah to elect a legislature, all executive and judicial officers were appointed by the President.  Millard Fillmore appointed Brigham Young as governor and split the remaining offices between Mormons and Gentiles (a nineteenth century term used in Utah to designate non-Mormons).  Nevertheless, there was continual friction between the Saints and federal appointees. Points of contention included theocratic governance in Utah, alternative judicial structures, Indian affairs, and of course, the practice of polygamy.  In 1851, and again in 1857, a number of federal officers left their posts in Utah claiming that they could not adequately fulfill their duties, and that a military force would be necessary to enforce federal sovereignty in the Territory.[1]

Brigham Young

In March 1857, President James Buchanan was inaugurated as President.  From the beginning, his administration was plagued by growing sectional animosity over the extension of slavery, including the volatile situation in Kansas Territory.  Within weeks of taking office, his administration received a memorial from the Utah Legislature that indicated an unwillingness to submit to the authority of federal officials who did not conform with their expectations.  Soon afterward, Judge W.W. Drummond of the Utah Supreme Court published a letter of resignation that provided a highly inflammatory account of affairs in Utah and demanded military intervention.  The President did not take the trouble to independently investigate these allegations.  Instead, in May he decided to replace Brigham Young as governor and deploy a military expedition to Utah consisting of 2,500 soldiers.

James Buchanan

On July 24, 1857, Brigham Young was informed that a federal army was on its way to Utah.  However, he had received no word of explanation from the Buchanan Administration.  Young feared that the Utah Expedition presaged the reenactment of the Saints’ previous experiences in Missouri and Illinois where they had been dispossessed by a combination of mobs and state militia units.  He also had a bitter taste left in his mouth from a much smaller contingent of troops who had wintered in the Salt Lake Valley from 1854-55.[2]  As a result, Young and his associates prepared a strategy to slow the oncoming army and keep it outside population centers until snow blocked the mountain passes. At the same time, they prepared to defend the Territory from attack.

The breastworks at Echo Canyon were part of this larger strategy.  Echo Canyon was a narrow choke point through which the Utah Expedition had to pass in order to reach the populated areas of the Territory.  Other routes required the army to take a long march around natural barriers that would significantly slow its progress. Fortifying the canyon therefore served two major purposes.  The first was as a strong line of defense in case the army attempted a direct assault through the mountains.  But perhaps more important was the canyon’s value as a deterrent.

Echo Canyon Breastworks. Photo Credit: Kenneth Mays

It is unclear how effective the Mormon defenses might have been in the face of a determined attack.  One Latter-day Saint observer wrote to his wife in the fall of 1857 that the “position [at Echo Canyon] is such with its defenses as to defy any army that may ever seek to break through it.”[3]  Upon seeing the breastworks nine months later, Captain Albert Tracy of the Utah Expedition was less impressed.  Although he noted certain earthworks and walls that would be “difficult to carry,” he concluded that with the proper application of artillery, “the ‘corrals’ of rocks which they had erected by the shelves and gulches and along the ridges of the cliffs, would have been knocked about their ears, and rendered untenable in but a brief time and the way opened for our own light troops from the hills at rear.”[4] 

As a deterrent, however, Echo Canyon proved formidable.  Captain Stewart Van Vliet of the Quartermaster Corps preceded the main body of the Utah Expedition and met with Brigham Young in early September 1857.  Young outlined his defense strategy to Van Vliet who took the message back to the army, and eventually on to Washington.  Van Vliet passed through Echo Canyon both on his way to Great Salt Lake City, and on his way back.  At this time, the Mormons had not prepared significant defenses in the canyon.  Nevertheless, Van Vliet reported that there “is but one road running into the valley on the side which our troops are approaching, and for over fifty miles it passes through narrow canons [sic] and over rugged mountains, which a small force could hold against great odds.”[5]  This report unnerved the senior officer commanding the lead elements of the expedition, Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Alexander, who turned away from the direct course into Utah, only to countermarch.  However, the delay was enough to permit a heavy snow fall that effectively cut-off the road to Great Salt Lake City for the winter.  With the Utah Expedition stuck at the burned-out remains of Fort Bridger, diplomacy was able to resolve the crisis.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources

Tracy, Albert.  “The Utah War Journal of Capt. Albert Tracy, 1858-1860.”  In Utah Historical Quarterly 13, no. 1,2,3, 4 (January, April, July, October, 1945): 1-119.

Van Vliet, Stewart. “Van Vliet’s Report.” In Mormon Resistance: A Documentary Account of the Utah Expedition, 1857-1858, edited by Leroy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, 50-55. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005, 1958.

Watt, George D.  “Pvt. George D. Watt to Alice Watt, 14 October 1857.”  In At Sword’s Point, Part I: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858, edited by William P. MacKinnon, 361-63.  Norman, Oklahoma: The Arthur C. Clark Company, 2008.

Secondary Sources

Furniss, Norman.  The Mormon Conflict, 1850-1859.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960.

MacKinnon, William P., ed. At Sword’s Point, Part I: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858.  Norman, Oklahoma: The Arthur C. Clark Company, 2008.

McKinnon, William P. “Sex, Subalterns, and Steptoe: Army Behavior, Mormon Rage, and Utah War Anxieties,” Utah Historical Quarterly 76, no. 3 (Summer 2008): 227-246.

Rogers, Brent M. Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.

[1] Brent M. Rogers, Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017).

[2] William P. McKinnon, “Sex, Subalterns, and Steptoe: Army Behavior, Mormon Rage, and Utah War Anxieties,” Utah Historical Quarterly 76, no. 3 (Summer 2008): 227-246.

[3] George D. Watt, “Pvt. George D. Watt to Alice Watt, 14 October 1857,” in At Sword’s Point, Part I: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858, edited by William P. MacKinnon, 361-63 (Norman, Oklahoma: The Arthur C. Clark Company, 2008), 362.

[4] Tracy, Albert.  “The Utah War Journal of Capt. Albert Tracy, 1858-1860.”  In Utah Historical Quarterly 13, no. 1,2,3, 4 (January, April, July, October, 1945): 1-119, 20.

[5] Stewart Van Vliet, “Van Vliet’s Report,” in Mormon Resistance: A Documentary Account of the Utah Expedition, 1857-1858, edited by Leroy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, 50-55 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005, 1958), 53.

Donner Hill

Published / by William Root / 2 Comments on Donner Hill

Placed by: LDS 38th North Ward Priests[1]

GPS Coordinates: 40° 45’5.76″N, 111° 48’3.28″W

Historical Marker Text:
Lured by Lansford Hasting’s assurance that his shortcut from the well-known trail to Oregon and California would save 250 miles and weeks of travel, the ill-fated Donner-Reed party reached this place August 23, 1846, after spending 16 days to hack out a 36-mile road through the Wasatch Mountains. Here at this narrow mouth of the canyon, they were stopped by what seemed impenetrable brush and boulders. Bone-weary of that kind of labor, they decided instead to goad the oxen to climb the hill in front of you. Twelve-year-old Virginia Reed, later recalled that nearly every yoke of oxen was required to pull each of the party’s twenty-three wagons up the hill. After this ordeal, the oxen needed rest, but there was no time. The party pushed on to the Salt Flats, where many of the oxen gave out. This caused delays, which led to disaster in the Sierra Mountains.

A year later, July 22, 1847, Brigham Young’s Pioneer Party, following the Donners and benefitting from their labor, reached this spot. William Clayton recorded their decision: “We found the road crossing the creek again to the south and then ascending a very steep, high hill. It is so very steep as to be almost impossible for heavy wagons to ascend…Colonel Markham and another man went over the hill and returned up the canyon to see if a road cannot be cut through and avoid this hill. Brother Markham says a good road can soon be made through the bushes some ten or fifteen rods. A number of men went to work immediately to make the road…After spending about four hours of labor the brethren succeeded in cutting a pretty good road along the creek and the wagons proceeded on.”

Donner Hill looking east towards Emigration Canyon

Among the lesson learned that day was one stated succinctly by Virginia Reed in a letter to prospective emigrants back home: “Hurry along as fast as you can, and never take no shortcuts.”

Extended Research:

In 1846 a wagon party led by George Donner departed Independence, Missouri and began a perilous journey from the United States towards Alta California in Mexico. The wagons were late in reaching the Sierra Nevada mountain range and disaster awaited the 88 members of the Donner Party. Extreme suffering and starvation followed, with 41 members of the group dying and eventually the incident drew national attention over reports that some members of the ill-fated party resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.[2] The Donner Party originally planned to travel to California via Oregon, but real estate speculator Lansford Hastings promoted an alternate route published in his famous Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California in 1845, and the Donner Party opted to try it.³

Hastings was not certain if he should promote the cutoff from Fort Bridger through the Salt Lake Valley and westward following John C. Fremont’s expedition in 1845, but he received support in favor of the cutoff from Fremont and Jim Bridger. Hastings thus advised the Donner-Reed party that they would save some 350-400 miles if they took his “cutoff.” One of his partners, James Clyman, however became convinced that the route was not suited for wagons and therefore tried to dissuade members of Donner-Reed Party from taking the cutoff. Joseph R. Walker, who successfully guided the first wagons over the California Trail by way of Fort Hall, also thought the route an unproven risk.[3]

Other migrant groups, which included the Bryant-Russell Party and Harlan-Young wagons, left Fort Bridger in mid-July 1848, following the Bear River into East Canyon where they passed through Devil’s Gate with difficulty along the Weber River. Hastings subsequently directed a group of German migrants from the Heinrich Lienhard party on a direct route through Echo Canyon into Devil’s Gate, where they caught up with the Harlan-Young party near the Jordan River. The Donner Party departed Fort Bridger two weeks later on July 31 and Hastings talked them out of going via Weber Canyon and Devil’s Gate, instead telling them to blaze a new path over to what would come to be called Emigration Canyon. On August 7, 1846, James Reed began carving a trail for the wagon train, chopping down bushes and trees in the Wasatch Mountains towards the canyon. Reed was joined by the remaining members of the wagon party who continued to hack and dig their way for 35 miles from present-day Henefer, Summit County, to Salt Lake City.²

Emigration Creek along Donner Hill

The Bryant-Russell, Harlan-Young and Lienhard parties would successfully pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains into California, while the time the Donner Party spent trailblazing in Utah foreshadowed later events. After the three week trek through the Wasatch Mountains, the oxen were already exhausted and their supplies began to run low.

After entering the Salt Lake Valley, the first member of the party died of tuberculosis near the Great Salt Lake. A site near Grantsville, Utah provided temporary relief with underground water springs, their last source of water until reaching the Humboldt River. In the Salt Flats, Reed’s thirsty oxen ran off and were never seen again. Upon reaching Iron Hill, a fight broke out between one of Reed’s teamsters and John Snyder, a driver for the Graves wagon. Reed stabbed Snyder in the chest and was banished by the Donners after Snyder died. Reed thus avoided being pinned down by the early winter storms which trapped the rest of the party. His departure in October towards Sutter’s Fort allowed him to organize a rescue party in Sacramento that arrived in February 1847. Along the Humboldt River a band of Paiute Indians killed 21 of the Donner Party’s oxen and stole another 18, with more than 100 of the party’s cattle now gone. Two Indian guides assisted the Donner Party in reaching the summit of the Sierra Nevada, but turned back with the first sign of snowfall in early November.1

Donner-Reed Party burial remains discovered in the Salt Lake Desert

The delayed timing and trek through the west desert led to the party becoming snowbound in the Sierras. Malnutrition was a common cause of death, and Irish immigrant Patrick Breen wrote in his journal on Christmas Eve that he was living in a “Camp of Death”. 1 Some of the members of the party camped along the banks of Alder Creek and frozen Truckee Lake, now Donner Lake, where most of the cannibalism occurred. The first rescuers arrived at Truckee Lake in February 1847, composed of soldiers from the U.S. Army stationed in California during the U.S.-Mexican War, among them were members of the Mormon Battalion. One week after rescuers arrived, other isolated camp sites were still using the corpses of the dead for food. Breen wrote in his diary on February 26:

Martha’s jaw swelled with the toothache: hungry times in camp; plenty hides, but the folks will not eat them. We eat them with a tolerable good apetite. Thanks be to Almighty God. Amen. Mrs Murphy said here yesterday that [she] thought she would Commence on Milt. & eat him. I don’t [think] that she has done so yet; it is distressing. The Donners, 4 days ago, told the California folks that they[would] commence to eat the dead people if they did not succeed, that day or next, in finding their cattle.1

Patrick Breen’s diary entry describing the routine cannibalism in the encampment

Three additional relief efforts occurred in April in an attempt to find members who had become separated while camping along Truckee Lake. In the last effort they found only one survivor, Louis Keesberg, who was surrounded by half-eaten corpses. As the survivors departed with the rescuers, members of the Mormon Battalion were ordered to bury the dead bodies inside the main cabin on what is today Donner Pass and then set fire to the cabin.[4]

The Donner Party, in essence, blazed the trail into the Salt Lake Valley which Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers used the following year. Young left Winter Quarters, Nebraska with his encampment and passed through the mouth of Echo Canyon by mid-July 1847; he then picked up the Donner-Reed trail and followed it into the Salt Lake Valley. Instead of three weeks, it took Young’s party one week, a matter of great importance since it enabled the Mormons to plant wheat and potato crops in time for their first harvest in the fall. In the last quarter-mile, rather than hauling their wagons over Donner Hill, the Mormons decided to hack through the brush and go around Donner Hill. The Mormons emerged four hours later at what is now This is the Place State Park.[5]

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Breen, Patrick. Diary of Patrick Breen of the Donner Party, 1846-7. Berkeley: University  of         California Bancroft Library, 1910.

Secondary Sources:

Campbell, Eugene. “The Mormons and the Donner Party.” BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol. 11 no. 3 (1971).

Miller, David. “The Donner Road through the Great Salt Lake Desert.” Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 27, no. 1 (February 1958): 39-44

[1] Originally installed by “Mormon Explorers” Y.M.M.I.A. In 2010, the original plaque was stolen and re-erected in 2016 by the LDS 38th North Ward High Priests

[2] Campbell, “The Mormons and the Donner Party.”

[3] Miller, “The Donner Road through the Great Salt Lake Desert,” 39-44

1 Breen, 18

1 Breen, 28

[5] Campbell, “The Mormons and the Donner Party.”

Bogan Boarding House

Published / by Peter Lewis / Leave a Comment

write-up by Peter G. Lewis

GPS Coordinates:

            Latitude: 40.6410322

            Longitude: -111.49453919999999

Marker Text (Placed by the Division of State History for the National Register of Historic Places):

“The Bogan Boarding House, built in 1904, was established as a boarding house for miners after the passage of the mine boarding house bill in 1901. Prior to 1901, single miners were required to live in the company owned boarding houses close to the mines. After passage of the bill, finer accommodations such as this boarding house were allowed to be built in Park City proper to accommodate the influx of single miners. None of the boarding houses that were built close to the mines have survived and this is one of only four existing boarding houses in the entire Park City area to have survived to the present. Known for many years as the Imperial Hotel, this building served primarily as a boarding house for miners, but during the 1918 flu epidemic it was used as an emergency hospital.  Marker placed in 1985.”

Picture of the historical marker itself. Captured 1/19/2019.
The structure in present day. Captured 1/19/2019.

Extended Research:

Publication of The Boarding House Law in the Park Record, 3/30/1901.

In 1901, a law was passed in Summit County that would improve the living conditions of Park City miners.  Prior to 1901, miners could be forced by their employers to live in boarding houses near the mines if they were not married or had no family living in town. Employers could even force their workers to do business exclusively at shops that they owned. Around March 30th, 1901, the Boarding House Law was put into action in order to prevent mine owners from putting a stranglehold on miners’ lives outside of the mines.  The Boarding House Law (displayed on the right) made it so that if an employer were to intimidate or coerce an employee to board at any particular boarding house or do business at any particular store, that employer would be charged with a misdemeanor.[1]

By the start of 1904, living conditions in Park City had greatly improved for miners.[2] Around January 2nd of that year, John and Anna Bogan had their old company boarding house torn down after the Bogan Mining Company was absorbed into Silver King Consolidated Mine.[3] In its place, a more convenient boarding house was built for them on Main Street in Park City: The Bogan Boarding House.

John Bogan came to Utah from Illinois in 1877 to work in the mines at Alta and Dry Fork. Park City became his home in 1879. He died in 1907 at age 62 and his wife Anna passed in 1919. The Utah Historical Society claims that their sons, John T. and James F. Bogan, retained ownership of the Bogan Boarding House until 1925[4]; however, an article from the September 22nd, 1916 issue of the Park Record states that Stevens Brothers purchased the Bogan Boarding House that year.[5] Stevens Brothers was a Park City store that acquired various other businesses in town that year, including St. Louis Bakery[6] and a cigar and candy shop named Stanley Rolley.[7]  Stevens Brothers ended up returning the property to the Bogan family at some point.  Evidence of this transfer of ownership is found in a classified ad that appeared in the July 1st, 1921 Park Record wherein James F. Bogan listed the Bogan Boarding House for sale at $2,500. The same ad appeared weekly in the Park Record through August 19th, 1921.[8]

The outbreak of influenza in the state of Utah in 1918 caused Park City to shut down. School and church services were cancelled and social gatherings were prohibited.[9] Park City would not let outsiders into the town without a signed certificate from a doctor stating that they showed no signs of flu symptoms.[10]  With no influx of people needing a place to stay in Park City, it’s no wonder that the Bogan Boarding House was used as an emergency hospital during this time.

Park Record obituary of Bernard Larzaro, former owner of the Imperial Hotel. Published 3/4/1937.

At some point, the Bogan Boarding House was renamed the Imperial Hotel.  This was done somewhere between 1925, when John T. and James F. Bogan last had it, and 1937.  An obituary in the Park Record on March 4th, 1937 lists the most recent owner of the Imperial Hotel as Bernard Larzaro, a Spanish man who came to Park City the same year as John Bogan.[11]  Larzaro may have purchased the Bogan Boarding house from James F. Bogan and he may have been the one to rename it the Imperial Hotel. Larzaro’s obituary is the first time the structure is referred to as the Imperial Hotel in the Park Record.

Imperial Hotel ca. 1968. Credit Park City Magazine.

In January of 1940, a fire caused damage to the Imperial Hotel, claiming the entirety of the original roof.[12] The structure was restored and used as an apartment building in October of 1940.[13] Pictured on the right is the building circa 1968. In the fall of 2015, the building was yet again repurposed and renamed. That fall, it was dubbed Riverhorse Provisions and it continues to hold that name to this day.  Inside Riverhorse Provisions is a coffee shop and a small food market (pictured below).[14]

Interior shot of Riverhorse Provisions, currently located in the building. Credit

The Bogan Boarding House is a landmark that stands as a testament to the personal advancement of miners and other residents in Summit County. It was built by a miner to help improve the quality of life for other miners. John Bogan went from mine worker to mine owner to boarding house owner and, thusly, a caretaker for miners. Surely Mr. Bogan wanted other miners such as he had been to have more comfort than he had. Today his former boarding house still operates within the field of hospitality, continuing to serve both locals and visitors in Park City over 100 years after John Bogan did so.

[1] “The Boarding House Law,” Park Record, March 30, 1901, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[2] “Resume of 1903,” Park Record, January 2, 1904, 1, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[3] “Mining Matters,” Park Record, May 11, 1907, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[4] Utah State Historical Society, “Structure/Site Information Form,” May 29, 1984.

[5] “News About Town,” Park Record, September 22, 1916, 2, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[6] “New of the City during the Week,” Park Record, August 18, 1916, 1, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[7] “News About Town,” Park Record, September 29, 1916, 1, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[8] Park Record, July 1 – August 19, 1921, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[9] “To Ward Off Epidemic of Influenza,” Park Record, October 11, 1918, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[10] Twila Van Leer, “Flu Epidemic Hit Utah Hard in 1918, 1919,” Desert News, March 28, 1995.

[11] “Bernard Larzaro Dies,” Park Record, March 4, 1937, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[12] “Hotel Destroyed by Fire,” Park Record, January 25, 1940, 5, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[13] Park Record, October 10, 1940, 4, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[14] Melissa Fields, “Dine with a Ghost at Riverhorse Provisions,” Park City Magazine, December 14, 2016.

Primary Sources:

“Bernard Larzaro Dies.” Park Record, March 4, 1937. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“The Boarding House Law.” Park Record, March 30, 1901. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“Hotel Destroyed by Fire.” Park Record, January 25, 1940. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“Mining Matters.” Park Record, May 11, 1907. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“News About Town.” Park Record, September 22, 1916. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“News About Town.” Park Record, September 29, 1916. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“New of the City during the Week.” Park Record, August 18, 1916. Utah Digital Newspapers.

Park Record, July 1 – August 19, 1921. Utah Digital Newspapers.

Park Record, October 10, 1940. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“Resume of 1903.” Park Record, January 2, 1904. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“To Ward Off Epidemic of Influenza.” Park Record, October 11, 1918. Utah Digital Newspapers.

Secondary Sources:

Fields, Melissa. “Dine with a Ghost at Riverhorse Provisions.” Park City Magazine, December 14, 2016.

Utah State Historical Society. “Structure/Site Information Form.” May 29, 1984.

Van Leer, Twila. “Flu Epidemic Hit Utah Hard in 1918, 1919.” Desert News, March 28, 1995.

Old Rock School House

Published / by Brianna Siddoway / Leave a Comment

Placed by: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No. 13

GPS coordinates: 40.9142194 degrees north, -111.3975917 degrees west

Photo taken January 29th, 2019 by Brianna Siddoway

Historical Marker Text:

First public building in Summit County, built in 1865, originally used as county building, meeting house and amusement hall, later, as school house dedicated by President Brigham Young in the fall of 1868. Summit Stake was organized in this building July 9 1877, with W.W. Cluff as President, George Snyder first and Alma Eldredge second counselors. The building had a belfry and large bell that was used for alarm and curfew. The bell was last rung on the morning that the World War Armistice was signed, November 11, 1918.”

Photo taken January 29th, 2019 by Brianna Siddoway
Photo taken January 29th, 2019 by Brianna Siddoway

Extended Research:

In its early years as a settlement, the people of Coalville used a small log cabin for a school and meeting house for religious services. From 1864 to 1865 the community banded together to build a new, larger building to accommodate their growing numbers. Settlers donated whatever labor, time, and supplies they could spare to the effort.[1] Fredrick Wilde owned land in Coalville and wanted a church to be built there. He and many others helped to build what became a regional church building for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lived in the Summit County area, also called the Summit Stake House.[2]

Near the chosen location for the new building was a ledge of stone which the builders decided to use in constructing their new meeting house. Thus, the finished structure came to be known as the “Rock Church,” “Rock Chapel,” and “Rock School House.” Lumber, however, was not as readily available and had to be brought from Sawmill Canyon, approximately 10 miles away, up Echo Canyon. One settler, William H. Smith, donated ox teams to the effort of hauling stone to the site and to collecting logs from canyons while other settlers donated labor at the saw mill.[3]

Photographer George Beard 1855 – 1944
Photo provided by NaVee Vernon, Summit County Historian, January 2019

When the building was completed in 1865, the community began to use it as a church and school house. A small, one room structure, the Rock School House was built with a belfry, which housed the bell used to call school children to their lessons. The bell was also used as a warning sign to the community, in which cases the building was used as a refuge. The Rock Church was further used as a social and amusement hall for parties and dances. It sometimes became a government center for the county as well, where “laws and rules were formulated [to] govern the people.”[4]

In September 1869, a few years after its completion, Brigham Young, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the building. On September 24th the Deseret Evening News reported that at the time it was being built, many thought it would be too large, but after it was finished, due to population increase, the community had already outgrown its Rock Church. “It is a chaste, elegant building,” the News reported, “beautifully finished, and it is a credit to the place.” During his trip to dedicate the building, President Young counselled the Bishop of Summit and Morgan counties, W.W. Cluff, “to take steps to build a larger meeting house… and when done to use the present building for a schoolhouse.”[5]

Rock Chapel as it stands in Lagoon’s Pioneer Village. Taken June 13th, 2011; found here.

The bell was last rung on November 11, 1918, otherwise known as Armistice Day, when the bell signaled the end of World War I. The small building continued to be used as a social hall and later as a seminary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until 1975 when it was sold to Lagoon’s Pioneer Village where it stands today with its original furniture on display.[6]

Rock Chapel Sign, on site in Lagoon’s Pioneer Village. Taken June 13th, 2011; found here.

Rock Chapel Sign Text:

The Pioneer Village Little Rock Chapel has as fascinating a history as any building in Utah. Originally located on Main Street in Coalville, it was constructed in 1863 as a fort against the Indians, and was used in more than one attack. When the Indians became friendlier, the building became a courthouse with the jail attached to it. Later as the area grew, it was turned into a schoolhouse and became the center for social activities in the Coalville area. Finally, in 1869, the chapel was dedicated by Brigham Young as an LDS church. It retained its importance as a meeting place for both social and political activities in the community. Constructed of hand-drilled, hand-cut blocks of Summit County sandstone, the chapel contains the original pews, pot-bellied stove and lectern. Paneling and pews were wood-grained to simulate hardwoods. This was commonly done through this period, when only softwood was available and the appearance of hardwood was more desirable. This church is a unique and lovely reminder of Utah pioneer heritage.

[1] Rhea M. Bagnell, “The Old Rock School House in Coalville”, Personal History. Provided by Summit County historian NaVee Vernon.

[2] Louisa Wilde Ballantyne, “Our Book of Remembrance,” A History of Fredrick George Wilde by Louisa Wilde Ballantyne. January 01, 1970. Accessed February 05, 2019.

[3] Bagnell, “The Old Rock School House in Coalville”, Personal History.

[4] Bagnell, “The Old Rock School House in Coalville”, Personal History.

[5] “Editorial Correspondence,” Deseret Evening News, (Salt Lake City, Utah), 24 September 1869, 2. Utah Digital Newspapers, accessed March 16, 2019.

[6] Walter Lee, “The Old Rock School House,” Issue brief, compiled by Mary Andersen, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Provided by Summit County historian NaVee Vernon.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Secondary Sources:

  • Lee, Walter. The Old Rock School House. Issue brief. Compiled by Mary Andersen. Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Provided by Summit County historian NaVee Vernon.
  • Coalville School Bell and the Old Rock School House. Daughters of The Utah Pioneers. Provided by Summit County historian NaVee Vernon.

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