Evergreen Avenue Historic District
The Evergreen Avenue Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Evergreen Avenue Historic District is located in East Millcreek Township, approximately eight miles southeast of downtown Salt Lake City, in unincorporated Salt Lake County, Utah. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District includes approximately four blocks centered along Evergreen Avenue between 2300 and 2700 East. The historical development of the neighborhood has resulted in an eclectic mix of mostly residential housing stock dating from the 1860s to the present. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District includes 194 primary resources, of which 122 (62 percent) contribute to its historic character. This total includes two buildings previously listed individually on the National Register: the Oakwood Estate, 2610 E. Evergreen Avenue (listed 1979- 11-16); and the Nathaniel Baldwin House, 2374 E. Evergreen Avenue (listed 1985-05-09). Of the 73 (38 percent) non-contributing resources, 17 are altered historic buildings, and 55 are out of period. With one exception, the resources are all residential. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District also includes 86 outbuildings, primarily garages, divided evenly between 41 contributing and 45 non-contributing outbuildings. At the southeast corner of the district are two historical markers, one is a contributing object and the other is a non-contributing object. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District includes remnants of the historic irrigation system, which includes ditches and head-gates. There resources are counted together as one contributing linear structure. Because of its historic and architectural heritage, the Evergreen Avenue neighborhood is one of the most desirable real estate locations on Salt Lake County's east bench. One of the themes of its development has been continually improvements and upgrades. Despite modifications, as a whole, the contributing resources of the Evergreen Avenue Historic District have excellent historic integrity. In addition, many of the resources have exceptional architectural and historic significance.
Landscapes and Streetscapes
The Evergreen Avenue Historic District is an essentially suburban neighborhood, but with little resemblance to the post-war subdivisions that surround it. As the oldest residential neighborhood in East Millcreek, the landscape is green with numerous old evergreen and deciduous trees clustered along Evergreen Avenue and the Mill Creek, the most significant landscape features in the district. The creek bed includes landscaped and natural areas depending on the property. Landscaping has been left mostly to individual property owners, but most have lawns and flower beds with garden plots in the rear. The parcels ranged in size from approximately 0.15-acres to the almost one acre Oakwood Estate. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District includes a number of historic landscape features (historic fencing, retaining walls, stone-lined irrigation ditches, head gates, etc.) that contribute to the historic character of the neighborhood.
The residences are very distinctive with only a few examples of tract housing. Most of the housing stock was constructed as infill between the older homes. One small subdivision, Evergreen Gardens, was platted in 1940 within the historic period. Pioneer Circle, an inner block subdivision, was platted in 1980. Just south of Pioneer Circle are the Marquis Condominiums (circa 1970), also an inner-block development. In the past two years, several of the larger parcels have been subdivided for new mansion-like residences on flag lots. Most of the streets belong to the county, but there are five private lanes extending from Evergreen Avenue to the creek. The section of Oakwood Street south of Evergreen Avenue is commonly referred to as Little Oakwood. There are traffic lights at three corners: 3300 South, 2300 East, and 2700 East, and the intersection of Evergreen Avenue and 2300 East. At the southeast corner, there are stop signs at the top of the "S"-curve, where the East Mill Creek LDS Ward Building is located at the visual terminus of Evergreen Avenue, but not within the historic district boundaries. Speed bumps were installed on Evergreen Avenue in 2005 as a traffic calming measure.
Early Settlement & Milling Period, 1848-1877
There were no buildings visually identifiable from this period. The mill stone imbedded in the marker at approximately 2700 E. Evergreen dates from 1848, however, the marker was not created until 1936, but is a contributing object from a later period. A search of historic tax records at Salt Lake County Archives indicated that there were formerly numerous log cabins and adobe houses in the neighborhood as late as the mid-1930s. However, the prosperity of the area has removed all external traces. It is likely that early adobe houses and possibly log cabins exist within the later expansions and alterations of several resources. For example, according to tax records, the non-contributing house at 3305 S. Oakwood Street is much older than it appears.
Community Building and Transition Period, 1878-1904
While only four buildings were identified as contributing from this period, the small group represents some of the most individually significant buildings. The earliest example is the Amos Neff house at 3430 South Oakwood Street, built circa 1885 as a two-story brick Victorian cross wing. The bungalow porch was added around 1912. The cross wing house at 3384 S. Oakwood Street, built circa 1890, is a slightly later example. The John Neff III house at 2661 E. Evergreen Avenue is a 2-1/2-story Victorian cross-wing built in 1897. It was expanded and remodeled in 1946 to resemble a Colonial Revival mansion. Another house built by the Neff family at 3550 S. Oakwood Street, was built around the same time between Evergreen Avenue and the creek. Historic tax cards and historic photographs suggest that the neighborhood had numerous modest-sized Victorian cottages from this period. However, most were demolished to be replaced by larger more modern homes as the neighborhood made the transition into the twentieth century. A few remain, but like the example at 2532 East 3300 South, are barely recognizable as historic buildings.
Growth and Prosperity Period, 1905-1930
This period is represented by forty-five contributing buildings, ranging from grand estates to modest bungalows. The Oakwood Estate (1905) and the Nathaniel Baldwin House (1923) bookend the most important architectural trends of this period, as architectural tastes moved from Victorian opulence to the simplicity of the bungalow era. Another high-style residence, the Sam Neff house at 2564 E. Evergreen Avenue, is an example of the transition between the two extremes. This Neff house, built in 1912, is a two-story Foursquare built of rock-faced concrete blocks. A largest outbuilding in the Evergreen Avenue Historic District, a multi-bay carriage house, is associated with this building. The Elaine Bagley Neff bungalow at 3306 S. Oakwood Street is a beautifully maintained example of an Arts & Crafts bungalow. The Baldwin bungalows, built by Nathaniel Baldwin for his radio factory employees (circa 1916), although more modest in scale and decoration, represent a significant phase in the history of the neighborhood.
The last decade of this period is represented by an eclectic variety of period revival-style cottages. The majority of these homes were individually designed as infill on the frontage lots. On average, they are larger than similar homes built as tract housing throughout Salt Lake City. The cottages were constructed in a wide variety of styles using many different materials. A few of the best examples include 2324 E. Evergreen Avenue (brick, French Norman); 2342 S. 2300 East (brick, English cottage); 3345 S. Oakwood Street (brick, clipped-gable cottage); and 2360 E. Evergreen Avenue (shingle, English cottage). The English-style cottage at 3433 S. Oakwood Street is a more elaborate example. Five buildings associated with the Baldwin Radio Factory (constructed between 1916 and 1922), are the only contributing commercial buildings in the Evergreen Avenue Historic District. The four buildings in the radio factory complex on the west side of 2300 East are highly significant to the neighborhood during this period and the reason the district boundary extends across the street. An auxiliary building is located on the east side of the street across from the complex. A number of historic landscape features (historic fencing, retaining walls, stone-lined irrigation ditches, head gates, etc.) probably date from this period or slightly earlier, and are important contributors to the historic character of the neighborhood. The outbuildings from this period are mostly single-car garages in brick and frame.
Suburban Development Period, 1931-1957
Seven-two contributing resources were built within this period. These include a relatively high number of residences built in the 1930s and early 1940s when construction slowed considerably throughout Utah. Similar to the period cottages of the previous era, the residences built in the first half of this period are remarkably individualistic and varied, such as those found on one block of Oakwood Street. They include traditional building types, such as the Cape Cod-style house at 3365 S. Oakwood Street (circa 1935). There are also unusual hybrids, such as the English cottage from the 1940s cottage at 3325 S. Oakwood Street (circa 1945). There are several interesting, individualistic frame examples 3375 S. Oakwood Street (circa 1940). The majority of cottages from this period are brick, but there is a great deal of variety in the masonry. For example, nearly half of the brick buildings were constructed of striated brick and many were built with variegated or multi-colored brick. The clipped-gable example at 3377 S. Oakwood Street has multi-color brick and a frame double-garage.
Representing the immediate post-war period in the neighborhood are a number of Minimal Traditional cottages, similar to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) small house plans developed in the mid-1930s to help stimulate home ownership during the depression years. Typical examples are located at 3431 S. 2300 East (frame, circa 1945) and 3335 S. Pioneer Street (brick, circa 1945). Several of these homes are found in the neighborhood's first subdivision, Evergreen Gardens (1940 plat), located on Crestbrook Lane. Even the smallest homes in the neighborhood are being upgraded. The frame Minimal Traditional cottage at 2511 E. Evergreen Avenue was renovated in 2006, but the picnic pavilion in the rear remains intact.
During the 1950s, the neighborhood favored the popular ranch and rambler house types. The Minimal Traditional cottage evolved into an early ranch style. The attached garage was an important innovation during this period. The house at 2486 E. 3300 South (circa 1950) is an example of the early ranch house with an attached garage. As with previous period, the prosperity of the residents meant there are few standard tract-house examples. Two typical examples are found at 3394 South Pioneer Street (circa 1954) and 3366 S. Pioneer Street (circa 1956). Duplexes first appeared in the neighborhood during this period, which includes five examples. The duplex at 3356-3358 S. Oakwood Street is an unusual split-level example (circa 1954). Because the physical layout of the area has evolved organically from the first pioneer settlements, the large and irregularly shaped lots allowed for the construction of the angled ranch house. The house at 3367 S. Crestbrook Lane (built circa 1955) is a good example.
One trend of the neighborhood in this period was the conversion of circa 1940s basement homes (also called hope houses) into modern-style residences. The owner of the house at 3538 S. Oakwood Street stated her home was originally a "bomb shelter house built in the 1940s" with the main floor built in the late 1950s. The house at 3317 S. Oakwood Street, was also a basement home, but was finished as a two-level house with a cantilevered roof with late Wrightian influences (circa 1956). This period also including one contributing object: the Daughters of Utah Pioneers' marker for the Neff Mill, placed in 1936.
Subdivision and Late Twentieth Century Development Period, 1958-2006
Throughout the late twentieth century, the pattern of individualistic infill continued. There are a few examples of post-war modernism (2584 E. Evergreen Avenue, built 1964). The double house at 2481-2485 East Evergreen Avenue is contemporary in style (circa 1980). The Marquis Condominium development of the 1970s was the first large scale development in the area. The Pioneer Circle subdivision is similar to hundreds of subdivisions in Salt Lake suburbs of the 1980s. In the 1970s, the LDS Church razed the old meetinghouse at the east end of Evergreen Avenue (outside of the district boundaries) and a new meetinghouse was built in its place. The Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) marker was placed near the church. In 1999, a marker (a plaque imbedded in a granite boulder) was placed at approximately 3450 South 2700 East to commemorate two early schools that were near the site. This marker is a non-contributing object. These schools were superseded by the Sherman Elementary School, built in 1910, located near the corner of 3300 South and 2300 East. The Sherman School was razed around 1980, and part of the school grounds became the Sherman Field and Ballpark (just outside the historic district). The portion of the school grounds along 2300 East was sold to a supermarket chain. The commercial development on the corner is not included in the historic district. There is also commercial development from the 1990s at the northeast corner (3300 South and 2700 East) that has also been excluded. Today, the Evergreen Avenue Historic District is primarily residential, but the historic houses are threatened by the extremely high land value and the desire to built out-of-scale residences in the neighborhood.
The Evergreen Avenue Historic District is located on the east bench of unincorporated Salt Lake County, within the East Millcreek Township. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District is significant for its long association with the development East Mill Creek residential neighborhood. At a cursory glance, the Evergreen Avenue neighborhood is similar to other neighborhoods in the area with a mix of housing stock and commercial development along the traffic corridors; however, this particular four-block square neighborhood has a unique and remarkable history of development in the Salt Lake Valley. It was the site of the first pioneer flour mill in the valley and a small enclave of pioneer families and their descendants have been in the area since the late 1840s. As the nucleus of the East Millcreek communities, the area developed a rich historical heritage that continued into the mid-twentieth century. This is represented by a remarkable range of architectural styles and types not found in other East Millcreek neighborhoods. The neighborhood represents the East Millcreek community in its transition from a milling and manufacturing center to a suburban retreat. Throughout the historic period, the neighborhood has been the social center of the community and home to many of East Millcreek's most prominent residents. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District is also significant for a large collection of architecturally exceptional residences built during the period of significance, between 1885 and 1957. Of particular note are the residences of the Neff family, descendants of John Neff, millwright and first settler in the area. Oakwood, the turn-of-the-century summer retreat of Utah's "Silver Queen," Susanna B. Emery-Holmes, is located in the Evergreen Avenue Historic District. The Nathaniel Baldwin residence and the twelve bungalows he built for his radio factory employees in the 1910s and 1920s are both historically and architecturally significant. Oakwood and the Baldwin residences were previously listed in the National Register. The historic resources of the Evergreen Avenue Historic District contribute to the history of the East Millcreek community in Salt Lake County.
History of East Milcreek-Evergreen Neighborhood
Early Settlement & Milling Period, 1848-1877
The first flour mill in Utah was constructed in the neighborhood south of the current Evergreen Avenue near Oakwood Street on the banks of the Mill Creek. The flour mill was built by John Neff in 1848. John Neff and his family had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) in Pennsylvania. They later traveled with the Mormon pioneers to Utah in 1847 bringing machinery for a grist mill with them. Early in the spring of 1848, John Neff scouted the area and settled on a wooded area near a creek in the center of the Salt Lake Valley. The creek was later named for the numerous pioneer-built mills along its banks. Neff's flour mill was completed in the fall of 1848 and John Neff moved his family into a small house built near the mill. Neff was joined by the Russells and the Kellers. These three families were the only settlers in East Millcreek for several years. They were joined by the Seelys, Riders, Osguthorpes, and Stillmans. All were families from Pennsylvania. Other important early families included the Capsons and the Fishers.
In the same year that John Neff built his flour mill, pioneer surveyors laid out what became known as the Big Field Survey beyond the southern boundary of the original Salt Lake City plats (today's 900 South). Between 900 South and 2100 South, the land was laid out in rectangular blocks divided into five-acre lots known as the Five-Acre Survey. Further south, between 2100 South and 4500 South, the land was divided into larger lots of ten acres and known as the Ten-Acre Survey. These large lots were intended for agriculture and initially did not extend into the foothills where the East Millcreek-Evergreen neighborhood is located. However the main east-west corridor, known as 3300 South, is an extension of one of the block boundaries established by the Ten-Acre Survey. Likewise, the north-south running 2300 East follows the block pattern established by the 1848 survey. The oldest extant homes in the neighborhood are found along 3300 South and 2300 East. Evergreen Avenue, which bisects the survey area, was reportedly named for the wide variety of evergreen trees found in the area. Neffs Lane, the southern boundary of the survey area, has obvious associations with the Neff family. Oakwood Street, which runs north to south, is also one of the oldest streets in the neighborhood.
The Neff grist mill played an invaluable role in helping the Mormon pioneers survive the early settlement years. When an invasion of crickets began devouring the pioneers' first substantial wheat crop, the precious wheat that was salvaged and harvested by determined pioneers (with the aid of hungry seagulls), was brought to the Neff mill for grinding. Unbolted flour was available for sale by December 1848. The first white flour in Utah was produced at the mill by February 1949. That year many California-bound gold seekers offered John Neff a dollar for a bag of flour. He refused to sell, keeping the flour to sell to other pioneers for six cents a pound. John and Mary Neff often gave the flour free to those who couldn't afford it. Farmers from Provo to Ogden would bring their flour to the Neff mill, sometimes waiting up to a week to have it ground. For many years, the mill pond was used for baptisms.
The first settlers had a difficult time raising crops in the area, although some corn and potatoes were raised in the early years. Daniel Russell, who settled near the mouth of Mill Creek Canyon soon after John Neff built the flour mill, was very successful planting fruit trees and raising a variety of fruit. Although his orchards were outside of the survey area, his success encouraged more agricultural development in the area. Within a few years, the area was dotted with orchards, berry patches, vegetable gardens and vineyards. In addition, the family subsistence economy included dairy products, eggs, honey bees, beef and pork. Elk and deer helped supplement the settlers' meat supply. In 1848, Archibald Gardner established a saw mill south and west of the area near present day Highland Drive. Lumber from the saw mill provided much of the wood for the earliest community buildings. Lumber and other products were taken to Salt Lake City and sold to the growing population. While Mill Creek provided the energy to run the grist mill, it also supplied irrigation water to the family farms through a system of ditches. Water rights became increasingly important as the population of the area grew.
As is typical of most settlements, the development patterns of early settlements were tied to water ways and transportation corridors. In Utah, the ecclesiastical divisions of the church units also played an important role. When the Mill Creek Ward was first organized in 1849, it extended from 2100 South on the north to Big Cottonwood Creek on the south (approximately 4500 to 4800 South), and the Jordan River on the west to the Wasatch Mountains on the east. In 1852, the ward was divided at Highland Drive and the east area became known as the Upper District of the Mill Creek Ward, later part of the Big Cottonwood Ward. The area was divided again in 1877 to form the East Mill Creek and Wilford Wards. The boundaries of the East Mill Creek Ward were 2700 South on the north, 3900 South on the south, the Wasatch Mountains on the east, and approximately 2000 East to the west. The Wilford Ward was west of East Mill Creek.
After several years of meeting in homes, the congregation built a log cabin sometime between 1853 and 1856 about one mile above Neff's Mill. This building was also used as a school. About 1859, a second log schoolhouse/meetinghouse was built about 1/2 mile east of the present ward house. Both have been demolished. Early adobe homes were built between the 1860 and 1870s to augment the log cabin community. John Neff enlarged and remodeled the flour mill in 1864, putting in a rock foundation and boarding up the top floor. He died in 1869 and his sons took over operation of the mill. In 1877-1878, a brick meetinghouse was built at the intersection of Evergreen Avenue and 2700 East.
Community Building and Transition Period, 1878-1904
The organization of the East Mill Creek Ward and the construction of the brick meetinghouse strengthened and consolidated the community. The meetinghouse served as worship space and social hall. The donation of a candle was the early price of admission to an event. School was held there until 1893 when the 331 District School was built on 2700 East (also called the East Mill Creek School; demolished circa 1910). According to the 1880 census enumeration, the families in the East Mill Creek were scattered throughout the ward boundaries. Only a handful of families lived within the survey area; however, several manuscript histories of the area suggest the community was close knit. The 1880 census indicates most households were involved in farming with several in the lumber business. The community also had three carpenters and a blacksmith. Because of ongoing disputes over water in the area, a court commissioner was appointed to adjudicate water rights in 1903.
The last quarter of the nineteenth century was a period of transition for the East Millcreek community. The Neff Mill, which had been so vital in sustaining the early settlers, became obsolete as milling moved to areas better suited for the production of grain. In 1892, William Spafford purchased the mill site and machinery from the Neff family for $4,500. Spafford, a wealthy mine owner, tore down part of the mill and remodeled it into a dance hall. Edward H. Airis purchased the property and water rights for $8,000 in 1898. The mill was dismantled sometime between 1898 and 1905. Part of the mill burr was saved and is set in a monument at the corner of Evergreen Avenue and 2700 East. The mill pond was later cemented for use as a swimming pool.
The Neff family retained a substantial portion of the family property and built several large mansions beginning in the 1890s through the 1910s. The most prominent is the two-story brick house at 2661 E. Evergreen built for John Neff III in 1897. The Neff families and most of their neighbors were listed as farmers (specific products included fruit and sheep) on the 1900 census. There was also one blacksmith, one teacher, one miner and one railroad worker. The grandest home in the neighborhood was built for Susanna B. Emery-Holmes in 1905. Mrs. Holmes purchased the mill property from Edward Airis in 1904. She became fabulously wealthy because of her first husband's investments in Park City's Silver King Mine, and was known as the Silver Queen, both because of her mining successes and the elegant parties she held. Oakwood, as the East Millcreek estate was known, was built as a summer retreat for the Silver Queen and her second husband, Col. Edwin B. Holmes. The two-story Victorian house was built in the Eastlake style with extensive landscaped grounds. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The construction of Oakwood and other mansions in the area helped transform the neighborhood from a pioneer milling community to an attractive neighborhood for Utah's nouveau riche. The neighborhood represents an important transition in Utah's economy and the establishment of a leisure class at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Growth and Prosperity Period. 1905-1930
Lavish garden parties and other entertainments at Oakwood were common from 1905 to 1919 when Susanna Emery-Holmes gave the property to her nephew, Harold Lamb, and moved to her California estate. Harold Lamb was a landscaper who got his early experience on the grounds of Oakwood. The beautiful grounds at Oakwood set the tone for the neighborhood, but it was other events which transformed the neighborhood in the twentieth century. The population of the neighborhood grew steadily as the pioneer family farmsteads were slowly divided. The Granite School District built a large brick building in 1905 at 3357 S. 2300 East, later known as the Sherman School. The East Mill Creek Ward meetinghouse was expanded and remodeled between 1925 and 1929 to accommodate a growing congregation of 907 members according to a 1930 report. In 1923, an exchange agreement between Salt Lake City and the Lower Mill Creek and East Mill Creek Water companies settled most of the water rights disputes. The water companies took over management of piped water in the area. In 1927, power lines were extended throughout the neighborhood and several "home power plants" on Mill Creek (for example, at Oakwood) were dismantled.
The 1910 census enumeration was very similar to that of the previous decade. The neighborhood residents were mostly descendants of the original settlers. The newcomers were mostly Utah-born or from others parts of the United States. With a few exceptions, most men were occupied as farmers or farm laborers. Amos Neff had become a sheep herder. The mansion he built on Evergreen Avenue in 1912 suggests that he was very successful. John B. Fagg owned a butcher shop. Two men were in the building trades: Alma Hovey, a brick mason, and Edward Ellis, a carpenter. Home ownership was high at approximately 90 percent.
Possibly the one individual who made the most impact on the physical resources of the neighborhood in this period was Nathaniel Baldwin. Nathaniel Baldwin was born in Fillmore, Utah, in 1878. As the result of studying science and engineering as a young man, Nathaniel Baldwin became a prominent inventor and manufacturer of highly sensitive telephone receivers, dynamic speakers, and radios. In the year 1914, Baldwin received an order to produce headsets for the United States Navy in preparation for World War I. He built a wood factory on the banks of the Mill Creek at approximately 3470 South 2300 East. Between 1914 and 1930, the Baldwin Company was the most successful and innovative of its kind in the United States.
Nathaniel Baldwin built factory buildings on both side of 2300 East. Between 1916 and 1922, he built a several brick buildings at 3474 S. 2300 East. The extant complex includes the large factory, two office buildings, and a power plant. The company was one of the largest employers in Utah, employing about 500 men and women at its peak. The Omega office building at 3471 S. 2700 East was built for one of Baldwin's auxiliary companies. The 1920 census enumeration indicates a large number of workers lived in the district and surrounding area. Nathaniel Baldwin was remembered for his altruism. He paid a generous wage of four dollars a day to his workers. He was offered $ 1,000,000 to sell the company, but refused fearing his employees and neighbors would lose their jobs. Nathaniel Baldwin supported and nurtured the growth of a fundamentalist Mormon group that continued to espouse the principle of polygamy long after the LDS Church officially banned the practice in 1890. A few of Baldwin's employees and directors were members of the group and Baldwin spent much of his money to help support the large families of his polygamous friends. The twelve brick bungalows he had constructed on Evergreen Avenue and 3395 South were reportedly built for members of the polygamous group. Mary Baldwin, a daughter-in-law of Nathaniel Baldwin's, states that only a few members of the company's upper management were involved in polygamy, and that the bungalows were occupied by lower-level, monogamous, employees and their families. Baldwin's own elaborate bungalow at 2374 E. Evergreen Avenue was built in 1923 and listed on the National Register in 1985.
The area became locally known as "polygamy alley." A search of both the 1920 and 1930 census confirms that only a few families in the neighborhood may have been involved in polygamous relationships. Nevertheless, the perception was strong. Dr. H.N. Sheranian, physician to the Baldwin family and the Baldwin Radio Corporation in the 1920s, described the neighborhood as "an area of a square mile in Mill Creek surrounding the factory that was hot bed for a colony of polygamists, each shielding the other, because they were all law-breakers." A story related by Dr. Sheranian illustrates how difficult it might have been to maintain such a colony in suburban Salt Lake. One night in the mid-1920s, Dr. Sheranian was called to the home of Nathaniel Baldwin where he found a sixty-two year-old man on the floor with a deep head wound. The man, who lived with his two wives in a one-room house near the factory, had arrived at Baldwin's house at 2 a.m. to inform the factory owner he had awoke with a vision that Baldwin's daughter was to be his third wife. Nathaniel Baldwin judiciously told the man to speak to his daughter directly. The young woman, a student of the University of Utah with a promising future, who had been listening intently, promptly answered the man by picking up a glass vase and striking her elderly suitor's head. He survived, but Miss Baldwin did not marry him.
Though the activity of polygamists in the neighborhood was limited to a few, the economic impact of the radio factory can not be overstated. In the 1920 census, Nathaniel Baldwin lived near the factory on 2300 East surrounded by several employees (listed as laborers for the wireless). A few families like the Fishers and the Capsons stilled farmed, but all of the Neffs had become sheep owners and wool growers. There was a dramatic increase in service jobs: retail merchant, a salesman, a bookkeeper, a tailor, a stenographer and two florists. Two men had manufacturing jobs far from the neighborhood at a smelter and ironworks. By the 1930 census enumeration, a dramatic change had taken place in the neighborhood. There were very few farmers left, mostly specializing in fruit or poultry. The neighborhood was more densely populated with service workers in nearly every imaginable industry. But what was truly remarkable was nearly one-half of all workers in the area were employed by the radio factory, including one fourth-generation Neff. Most of the factory management lived on or near Evergreen Avenue. A large number of households had live-in servants.
In 1930, after several poor management decisions and financial reversals, the Baldwin Factory closed its doors. Though Nathaniel Baldwin died impoverished in 1961, his legacy is represented by numerous buildings within his East Millcreek-Evergreen Avenue neighborhood. The factory buildings continue to house light industry for the area and the worker bungalows are part of the historic housing stock.
Suburban Development Period 1931-1960
After 1930, many of the events and personalities that had driven the neighborhood's unique history had run their course. In many respects, the Evergreen Avenue Historic District developed along the same lines as other east bench Salt Lake Valley neighborhoods. With the possible exception of those connected to the Baldwin Company, the prosperity of the earlier periods remained intact. According to the 1930 census, the average home was valued at $5,000, slightly higher than other areas in the valley. At the time the mansions grouped along Evergreen Avenue, valued between $15,000 and $25,000, were likely only rivaled by another summer retreat haven, the Walker Lane area in Cottonwood about three miles to the south. The census records consistently give a high rate of home ownership in the area, and, no surprise, the 1930 enumeration showed a high percentage of residents who owned radios.
There was a steady, although slow, increase in residential development through the 1930s and 1940s. The first subdivision plat in the area was filed for the Evergreen Gardens subdivision comprising most of the 2540 East portion of Crestbrook Lane. After World War II, the East Millcreek-Evergreen neighborhood was impacted by the post-war suburban boom. Several large acre parcels were subdivided and ranch rambler style housing appeared as infill along all the street frontages. The LDS Church meetinghouse was remodeled again in the 1950s. The Grandview and Evergreen Wards were split from the East Mill Creek Ward. Three additions to the Sherman School were built between 1948 and 1958. By the 1950s, the residents were beginning to resemble their suburban counterparts, commuting to jobs throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Evergreen Avenue had become a bedroom community. The one distinction was the large number of common surnames that could be traced directly to the early settlers of the area, still an important distinction for the neighborhood today. Newcomers to the area in this period included some very prominent Salt Lake citizens, such as businessmen and philanthropists, James V. Glade, Obert C. Tanner, and Albert Eccles.
Between 1935 and 1950, a few residents of the area organized the East Mill Creek Betterment League, which met regularly in the East Mill Creek Ward meetinghouse. One of the first projects implemented by the league was a semaphore at the intersection of 2300 East and 3300 South. The league was also involved in beautification of 2300 East between 2700 and 3900 South, sidewalks on the neighborhood's busiest streets (with labor provided by the WPA), tree planting and landscape, expanding public transportation, installation of additional fire hydrants, and a proposed recreation center. During this period, interest in the history of the neighborhood was intense. Numerous manuscripts were written detailing the Neff Mill and other early features of the area. In 1936, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) organization placed the old mill burr in a monument near the LDS meetinghouse.
Subdivision and Late Twentieth Century Development Period, 1961-2007
The East Millcreek-Evergreen neighborhood continues to be an attractive neighborhood today, partly due to its many amenities large lots, greenery and proximity to the creek. The charm of the neighborhood has been both a blessing and a boon to preservation efforts. Most of the older homes, of every size, have been maintained over the years. On the other hand, many have been modernized with additions, new windows and veneers. While nearly all the frontage had been infilled by the 1950s, late-twentieth century development has occurred mostly in the inner blocks. A few larger fields and orchards have been replaced by small-scale subdivisions; for example, Pioneer Circle (1980). Two phases of the Marquis Condominiums filled the inner block between Pioneer Street and Crestbrook Lane. With most of the available space taken, the newest development has occurred in the form of large nouveau Victorian mansions on flag lots. More alarming has been the recent number of historic homes with street frontage razed for larger-scale homes.
On the outer fringes of the neighborhood, commercial encroachment emanating from the intersection at 2300 East and 3300 South is also of concern to several historic homes in the area. After the Sherman School was demolished (circa 1980), a supermarket was built on the site. The nearby ballpark still retains the name Sherman Field. At the other end of the survey area, the historic East Mill Creek Ward meetinghouse was razed and replaced in the 1970s. The retaining wall and monument were upgraded at the same time. This nomination was requested by the East Mill Creek Community Council in partial response to development pressures in the area, and a need to balance new development with the historic character and amenities of the neighborhood that make it so desirable.
The large lots and lush greenery are only part of the allure of this particular area. The long history and architectural resources of the neighborhood attract new residents each year. As the historic, industrial and social nucleus of East Millcreek's community, the neighborhood have benefited from a balance of heritage and progress. Many of the resources have exceptional architectural and historic significance, and even the more modest residences contribute to the historic and architectural evolution of the neighborhood. The Evergreen Avenue Historic District has a remarkable history and contributes to the historical resources of Salt Lake County.
Along East Mill Creek of the East Mill Creek Ward: A Brief Pictorial History, Beginning 1873-1974. TMs, 1974. Available at the Utah History Research Center.
Daughters of Utah Pioneers. "Mill Creek" in Heart Throbs of the West: a Unique Volume Treating Definite Subjects of Western History, Vol. 9. Carter, Kate B., compiler. Salt Lake City, Utah: 1948.
Carter, Thomas and Peter Goss. Utah's Historic Architecture, 1847-1940: A Guide. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1988.
Bagley, Elaine Neff. "History of the John Neff Mill" and "John Neff History." Unpublished TMs [no date], Available at the Utah History Information Center.
Baldwin, Mary. Telephone interview by author, October 21, 2006.
Bowthorpe, Asa R. "History of Pioneer Sawmills and Local Canyons of Salt Lake Valley." TMs, 1961. Available at the Utah History Information Center.
East Mill Creek Betterment League. Records, 1935-1950. Available at the Utah History Information Center.
East Mill Creek Ward History Collection. Miscellaneous TMS, circa 1920-1980. Available at the Utah History Information Center.
Hanchett, Thomas and Lois Harris. "Oakwood" National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, Utah State Historical Society, November 9, 1978. Available at the Utah State Historic Preservation Office.
"History of East Mill Creek and East Mill Creek Ward." Miscellaneous TMs, [Sherman School, Salt Lake County, Utah, circa 1940-1970].
Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Printing Company.
Memoirs of East Mill Creek. Unpublished TMs.
Millcreek Community Master Plan. Salt Lake County Public Works, 1988. Available at the Utah History Information Center.
Oakwood Estate Photograph Collection. Available at the Utah History Information Center.
Roper, Roger. "Baldwin, Nathaniel, House" National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, Utah State Historical Society, February, 1985. Available at the Utah State Historic Preservation Office.
Salt Lake City and Salt Lake Suburban Directories, 1925-2003. Published by R.L. Polk & Co. Available at the Utah State Historical Society.
[Salt Lake County Plat Records]. Available at the Salt Lake County Recorder's Office.
[Salt Lake County Tax Assessor's Cards and Photographs]. Available at the Salt Lake County Archives.
Singer, Merrill. "Nathaniel Baldwin, Utah Inventor and Patron of the Fundamentalist Movement." Utah Historical Quarterly 47:1 (Winter 1979). Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1979.
Sons of Utah Pioneers. East Mill Creek Chapter. Historical and Pictorial Remembrance Booklet. Salt Lake City, Utah: George R. Gygi, compiler and publisher, 1972. Available at the Utah History Research Center.
United States Census, Mill Creek and East Mill Creek Precincts, 1860 1930.
† Korral Broschinsky for the East Mill Creek Community Council, Evergreen Avenue Historic District, Millcreek Township, Salt Lake County, Utah, nomination document, 2006, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Utah History Encyclopedia, Allan Kent Powell, ed. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1994.
Utah State Gazetteers, 1874 — 1928.
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