Above: The first home built in Yalecrest, 1911
About the Yalecrest National Historic District
Salt Lake City’s Yalecrest neighborhood is a mainly residential neighborhood located on the East Bench of Salt Lake City, eight blocks to the south and 13 blocks to the east of the downtown business area of the city. The boundaries are 800 South (south side) to 1300 South (north side) and 1300 East (east side) to 1900 East (west side). It is remarkably visually cohesive with the majority of the houses built in subdivisions of period revival-style cottages in the 1920s and 1930s. The Yalecrest Neighborhood consists primarily of residential buildings—1,487 homes, three LDS churches, three commercial buildings, one school and two parks. Single family houses dominate the area but there are also duplexes. The neighborhood is also known as “Harvard-Yale” based on the name of two streets in the area. The streets of Princeton, Harvard and Laird above 1700 East were originally named Kelsey, Edith and Hampton but were later changed.
The property that is now Yalecrest was distributed by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint authorities by lot for use in raising crops and farming. Dividing the plots for land speculation was discouraged. The earliest identified residents in the Yalecrest area begin to appear in the 1870s. A 10-acre plot belonging to Gutliffe Beck was located near Yalecrest between 1700 and 1800 East. His early 1870s adobe farmstead was located near the intersection of Yalecrest Avenue and 1700 East. The property was later used as a dairy farm. Paul Schettler’s farm, situated near the intersection of 1900 East and Herbert Avenue had crops that included silk worms and mulberry orchards. David Lawrence had 20 acres of alfalfa located to the south of the Schettlers. On Sunnyside between 1800 and 1900 East Jim Carrigan built a house c. 1876 and farmed 45 acres. A one-legged man named Wheeler lived at what is now 1372 Harvard and got his culinary water from Red Butte Creek. No remnants of these early homes are known to remain.
A number of factors contributed to the Yalecrest area development in the early 20th century. The population of Salt Lake City increased rapidly at the turn of the century, almost doubling from 1900 to 1910. Air pollution from coal-burning furnaces as well as early industry in the valley added to the smoke-filled air of Salt Lake City, particularly in the winter. Properties on the east bench above the steep grade that flattens at 1300 East above the smoky air of the city began to look attractive for residential development. Land developers from Utah and out-of-state sensed economic opportunity in the potential urban growth, began to purchase land on the east bench and early subdivision advertising touted the clean air of the bench, above the smoke of the valley. Transportation options made the Yalecrest area easily accessible to the downtown area. The primary means of transportation in the early part of this era was the streetcar and the line along 1500 East serviced Yalecrest commuters to downtown Salt Lake City. The streetcars serving the Yalecrest area traveled from downtown to 1300 East in front of East High, south along 900 South to 1500 East, then south to Sugar House and the prison.
In 2007 Yalecrest was listed as a National Historic District on The National Register. At that time 91 percent of the homes in Yalecrest retained a high degree of historic integrity that contributes to the historic character of the district and in addition there are a large majority of detached garages that are also historic (original). The Yalecrest neighborhood is locally significant both architecturally and historically for its association with the residential development of the east bench of Salt Lake City by real estate developers and builders in the first half of the twentieth century. Its tract period revival cottages and subdivisions of larger houses for the more well-to-do represent the boom and optimism of the 1920s and 1930s in Salt Lake City. The neighborhood is also significant for its intact architectural homogeneity. It was built out quickly with 22 subdivisions platted from 1910 to 1938 containing houses that reflect the popular styles of the era, largely period revival cottages in English Tudor and English Cottage styles. The architectural variety and concentration of period cottages found is unrivalled in the state and examples from Yalecrest are used to illustrate period revival styles in the only statewide architectural style manual. The subdivisions were platted and built by the prominent architects and developers responsible for early twentieth century east side Salt Lake City development. It is associated with local real estate developers who shaped the patterns of growth of the east bench of Salt Lake City in the twentieth century. The National Register has noted that the architecture of Yalecrest is remarkable for the concentration of fine period revival style houses; seventy four percent were built from 1920-1939. These houses exhibit a variety of period revival styles with the largest portion being English Tudor and English Cottage styles. There is also a section of Yalecrest that is above 18th East that was built later and features post-war cottages.
A district of small cottages, from 1500 to 1600 East on Princeton and Laird Avenues, was for the most part constructed by Samuel Campbell; Princeton in 1924 and Laird in 1925. Samuel Campbell worked as a contractor/builder in Salt Lake City from 1913 to 1930 and built more than sixty houses in Yalecrest. He built primarily on speculation and many of the houses served as rentals to middle class tenants before being sold. The cottage district was not part of a subdivision.
The street grouping of Harvard, Princeton and Laird between 1300 East and 1500 East is known as Normandie Heights and was the last large subdivision to be platted in Yalecrest with the homes built between 1926-1935. It is distinctive because of its picturesque rolling topography with landscaped serpentine streets, regular promotions, prominent homeowners, deep setbacks, and large irregularly shaped lots. The builder Gaskell Romney* was involved in developing Normandie Heights as well as building houses on speculation. Gaskell Romney* and his wife Amy, lived in Yalecrest at 1442 Princeton Avenue and later at 1469 Princeton Avenue.
J.C. Craig – House at 1327 E. Michigan Avenue
Lorenzo S. Young – Bonneville LDS Ward, House at 1608 E. Michigan
Glen A Finlayson – Unusual Art Deco House at 973 Diestel Road
Slack Winburn – House at 979 South 1300 East – He studied architecture in Toulouse France at The Ecole des Beaux Arts et des Sciences Industrielles
Fred J. Swaner – House at 871 South 1400 East
Dan Weggeland – Normandie Heights
Raymond Ashton – George Albert Smith House at 1302 Yale, Sprague Library
Walter Ware – House at 1607 E. Yalecrest for Charles and Minnie Miller
Taylor Woolley – Frank Lloyd Wright-trained Architect – 1408 Yale Avenue
The 1925 red brick Colonial Revival Yale LDS Ward Chapel at 1431 Gilmer Drive was designed by Taylor Woolley (an architect trained by Frank Lloyd Wright) of Evans and Woolley and built by Gaskell Romney*. Both Woolley and Romney were residents of Yalecrest. Bonneville Stake History Book (1977) says the cornerstone was laid Sept. 24, 1924 and the chapel proper was completed March 8, 1925.
The Art Deco Yalecrest Ward Chapel at 1035 South 1800 East was built in 1936 of exposed reinforced concrete.
Building of the Bonneville Ward at the east entrance to Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park began in 1949 and was completed in 1950. Land that was previously Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park was used for construction of the Bonneville Ward Chapel and Stake. Its red brick Postwar Colonial Revival style building was designed by Lorenzo S. Young and constructed by the Jacobsen Construction Company in 1949. Bonneview Drive was originally a private drive owned by the LDS Church to access the property but was later made a public street.
Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park follows the course of Red Butte Creek on both sides of its ravine and originally extended from 900 South to 1500 East but now stops at Bonneview Drive as a land swap gave the southern section of Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park to the LDS Church in 1945 in exchange for property that became Laird Park, located on 1800 East between Laird and Princeton. Miller Bird Refuge and Nature Park is named for Lee Charles and Minnie Viele Miller that lived at 1607 Yalecrest. After Lee Charles death in 1930 Minnie Miller donated property in his memory along both sides of Red Butte Creek to the city where it became known as Miller Bird Refuge.
Duffin’s Grocery Store was built in 1925 at 1604 Princeton and was run by Clarence Duffin in conjunction with William Wood & Sons meat market. Duffin’s was the only market within Yalecrest and designed to have the same setback and blend in with the surrounding houses. This property has now been turned into a personal residence.
Currently there are three commercial buildings on the outskirts of Yalecrest at 1700 East and 1300 South. They house two restaurants—108 and Nomad— and a pharmacy & gift shop.
Uintah Elementary School was constructed in 1915 to support the growing elementary school age population of the East Bench. It was built encircled by vacant land but was soon filled to capacity with the rapid growth of the surrounding residential sections. The school was even enlarged in 1927 and in 1995 the old school was torn down after a new school was constructed on the upper playground from 1993-95.