Exchange Place Historic District
The Exchange Place Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. 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 Exchange Place Historic District contains ten closely grouped buildings and three non-contributory structures which are located along Exchange Place, a narrow street one block in length along South Main Street between 300 and 400 South Streets and along 400 South Street between Cactus Place and State Street. This area constitutes Salt Lake City's second major commercial district. The ten buildings were all erected between 1903 and 1917 and employed a protected steel frame, masonry type of construction which was considered "fireproof" and the most progressive method of building for its time. The buildings range from one to thirteen stories tall. The twelve-story Boston and Newhouse Buildings were considered Utah's first skyscrapers. Several styles of architecture and combinations of Salt Lake City, Chicago, and New York City architects are represented.
Buildings and sites contributing to the character of the Exchange Place Historic District:
1. Federal Building and Post Office (southwest Corner of Main and Post Office Place): 1903-1906, Classical Revival style, stone, employs Greek ordered detailing and a formal facade composition, expanded in 1912 and 1932, each time using materials and designs compatible with the original structure.
2. Felt Building (335-339 South Main Street): 1909, example of Sullivanesque style and displays early use of terra cotta as a decorative facade skin. Five-story brick office and retail building, contains 112 rooms.
3. & 4. Boston and Newhouse Buildings (11-17 Exchange Place, 2-16 Exchange Place respectively) 1908-1910, twin structures, classically detailed. Commercial style steel frame construction; stone-faced, visually divided "into "three horizontal sections which are equivalent, to the base, shaft and capital of a classical column. First two floors form the base, third through ninth floors form the shaft and are uniformly fenestrated and basically unornamented, upper two floors form an elaborately decorated "capital." Extensive carved stonework in the form of buffalo and lion heads, industrial symbols, cartouches and other classical motifs are especially interesting.
5. Commercial Club Building (32 Exchange Place): 1908, six-story concrete and protected cast iron I-beam and crown structural system. Architectural detailing and overall style borrowed from Second Renaissance Revival. Features polychromed terra cotta, raised first floor, fluted columns, ornamental faces and lions heads, inlaid panels of colorful mosaic tiles, a bracketed copper cornice and a western motif of plaster cattle skulls and swags in the ceiling dome of the rotunda. Originally the building contained a swimming pool, lounge, banquet room, private dining rooms, ladies parlor, game rooms and private offices.
6. Salt Lake Stock and Mining Exchange (39 Exchange Place): 1908, Neoclassical Revival, sandstone, two-story, T-shaped building, raised basement and brick exterior sides and rear. Steel frame construction, front facade five bays wide, three center bays framed by four two-story freestanding Ionic columns supporting a massive Greek style pediment.
7. Hotel Newhouse (400 South and Main): 1912, eleven stories, 300 rooms. Original rendering showed a 13-story structure with hip-roofed towers and minarets. Final building less detailed, steel and brick hotel is of a nondescript style with modest classical trappings, eight columned entry.
8. New Grand Hotel (369-379 South Main Street): 1910, five-story concrete and brick hotel and shops, 150 rooms, bracketed, projecting cornice, colorful inlaid tile panels, carved stone buffalo heads but otherwise subdued detailing, Commercial style.
9. Hotel Plandome (69-73 East 400 South): 1905, three stories, 54 rooms, stone foundation, brick faced. Ground floor used as stores, top two levels comprise the hotel. Neoclassical Revival Style.
10. Newhouse Realty Building (44-56 and 62-64 Exchange Place): 1917, Single story structure built for commercial use. Stone foundation with brick exterior built in the Commercial style. An "N" appears along the building's upper molding since the building was owned and built by the Newhouse Realty Company.
The ten buildings described above along with the three non-contributory buildings described below are the only structures included in the district. The above buildings are in good condition structurally and have experienced only minor deterioration of fabric. Few intrusions have marred the original appearances of the buildings and some, particularly the Commercial Club Building and the Boston and Newhouse Buildings, have undergone recent restoration activity. Some environmental elements are still intact, including street lamps, building lamps, original wall graphics, building inscriptions of mosaic tiles laid in sidewalks, and brass railings and sidewalk stairways leading to basement floors. By virtue of their scale, richness, and planned grouping, the buildings in the Exchange Place Historic District are visually distinctive compared to surrounding buildings.
Structures which are intrusions in the Exchange Place Historic District:
1. Auerbachs parking lot (Exchange Place): 1957, this eight-story parking facility is made of reinforced concrete.
2. 63 Exchange Place and 350 South State Street: c.1930, building face has been substantially altered and is now covered by concrete panels. The building is presently occupied by a barber shop (63 Exchange Place) and an arcade (350 South State Street).
3. 25 Exchange Place — Exchange Place Parking Lot — c.1930, garage designed by B.O. Mecklenberg and built by Salt Lake Building and Manufacturing Company; it is a five story structure made of steel and cement.
The Exchange Place Historic District was created as a direct outgrowth of the rapid development of Utah's mining industry during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The Exchange Place Historic District contains a major concentration of significant buildings and in appearance remains much the same today as it was in the early 1900's. The impressive commercial architecture in the Exchange Place Historic District reflects the manner in which large amounts of wealth produced by Utah mines were used to build up Salt Lake City. Exchange Place has played an important role in the growth of Salt Lake's economy and documents an important commercial rivalry between Gentile (non-Mormon) capitalists and the Mormon financial community, each of which was polarized in a separate commercial district.
The most important contributor to the development of Salt Lake City's second major business center was Samuel Newhouse. Newhouse was born of a European Jewish immigrant family and was instrumental in the formation of the Gentile commercial center. Before he was forty, Newhouse had made a fortune of several million dollars in Cripple Creek and other Colorado mines. He moved to Utah in 1896 because of the area's "more tolerant attitude towards persons of Jewish ancestry." His vast interests in local mining fields, particularly the Highland Boy (which had been thought to have been thoroughly worked out), Newhouse, Boston and Cactus mines attracted a large amount of capital to Salt Lake City. His discovery of porphyry-mining, an innovative cyanide process of extracting copper from low-grade ore led to the development of the Bingham Mine as the world's largest open-pit copper mine. After Newhouse sold his interests in the Highland Boy Mine, to the Standard Oil Co. syndicate headed by William Rockefeller, he used his estimated three million dollars in profits to develop a new commercial and financial center in Salt Lake City, his adopted home. He became the city's top-ranking non-Mormon booster and launched a campaign to move the business district in Salt Lake City from South Temple Street to Fourth South Street, four blocks to the south. The competitive nature of commercial enterprise which continued after the Mormon-Gentile conflict of the 1870's-1890's resulted in statehood but also saw the polarization of two district commercial centers. The Mormon district was comprised of the ZCMI store, Constitution Building, Deseret News Building, Hotel Utah, and the LDS Church Office Building. All of these buildings surrounded Temple Square, world headquarters of the Mormon church.
Newhouse financed the erection of Utah's first two skyscrapers, the Boston and Newhouse Buildings. He also built the Newhouse Hotel, donated land for the Commercial Club Building, donated property and a good share of funds for the Chambers of Commerce headquarters and provided the site for the Salt Lake Stock and Mining Exchange. Newhouse belonged to several prestigious clubs and had business offices in New York, London and Paris.
A feeling for the function and role of Exchange Place in Utah's past can be obtained from the following historical sketches of the individual buildings within the district:
Commercial Club Building — The Commercial Club was organized in 1902 by a group of Salt Lake City professional men in an attempt to attract out-of-state business to the city. It was organized into various committees which developed laws and regulations, advertising and promotion. These committees were devoted to causes which were intended to improve the city. They successfully supported the enlargement of the city water supply, the improvement of the price of coal and the organization of the Utah Development League which promoted the development of the state's mineral, agricultural, and industrial resources. One of the club's major accomplishments was the freight rate victory, considered at the time to be the greatest concession ever won from a railroad company by a western commercial organization. The club also fathered the "See America First League" that led to a national policy supporting home touristy. They also raised money for the victims of the San Francisco earthquake, raised $150,000 to rescue the YMCA from debt, formed a Salt Lake traffic bureau and published a series of pamphlets which promoted the resources of the city and state. Architects Ware and Treganza, designers of Commercial Club Building, intended the structure to be a smaller version of the New York Athletic Club. The six-story Renaissance Revival style building was erected in 1908 upon land donated for the purpose by Samuel Newhouse.
Federal Building and Post Office — The joint Federal court and offices and post office building is the oldest building originally in the Exchange Place Historic District and serves as the visual terminus for Exchange Place which is bilaterally symmetrical with the building. It is logical that the district grew up around the building inasmuch as it represents the Federal presence in Utah after it gained statehood following an intensive Mormon-Gentile conflict. The building is significant architecturally for introducing the heretofore unknown Neoclassical Revival style to Utah, a governmentally promoted style which found its way into commercial, religious and residential architecture in Utah after 1903.
Boston and Newhouse Buildings — In a state where tall buildings are still few in number, the twin monumental office structures, the Boston and Newhouse Buildings are well-known for being Utah's first skyscrapers. Financed by Samuel Newhouse, the buildings were named after his Boston Consolidated Mine and Newhouse himself or perhaps the Newhouse Mine in Newhouse, Utah. The two buildings frame the entrance to Exchange Place from the west and still tower over all nearby buildings. They were intended to compliment two similar buildings to be situated at the east entrance of Exchange Place. Due to Newhouse's bankruptcy, however, the later buildings were never built. The Boston and Newhouse Buildings not only represent the investment result of the great wealth produced by Utah mines at the turn-of-the-century, but also reflect Newhouse's desire to transplant the affluent image of east coast cities to Utah. Henry Ives Cobb, noted for architectural achievements in Chicago and New York, was commissioned to design the massive monoliths which were liberally decorated with classical ornament. With a distinctive New York look, Cobb's building effectively fulfilled Newhouse's dream of creating a mini Wall Street, a major financial center in the west.
Salt Lake Stock and Mining Exchange — Salt Lake's stock exchange was organized in 1888 to provide mine developers the opportunity to offer shares in their properties to the public and to raise the necessary capital for continued development. The Exchange is presently the only registered exchange between Chicago and the west coast states. It is the last registered exchange to use the "call" or auction system in settling the market price of its stocks. Until recent "quiet" times the Exchange followed the national financial market trends. It was especially active during the uranium boom of the 1950's when it became the center for the trading of uranium stocks. The Neoclassical Revival styled exchange is the building after which Exchange Place was named.
New Grand Hotel — This building was one of many resulting from the wealth produced by the Daly-Judge Mines in Park City. Owned by John Daly, the New Grand Hotel had 150 rooms and was five stories tall. It was designed by John C. Craig, a Chicago architect who also designed the Salt Lake Stock and Mining Exchange, the Salt Lake City Herald Building and the Eagle Gate Apartments. Craig was also a miner, having been involved with Marcus Daly and the Daly Mine which became the Daly-Judge Mine in 1901.
Newhouse Hotel — The Newhouse Hotel, the last significant building erected in the Exchange Place Historic District, was designed by Henry Ives Cobb, but due to Newhouse's bankruptcy, was never completed according to original plans. Cobb's rendering showed a fanciful design with hip-roofed towers and flagged minarets. The end product was quite austere, however, depending upon modest classical trappings for its sparse decorative vocabulary. It is easily the least impressive of Cobb's three monumental structures, though it was planned to be one of the finest hotels in the West. During its unfinished years the building had no window glass and was the object of a local vaudeville joke which called it "the best air-conditioned hotel in the West."
Felt Building — Named for Charles B. Felt, secretary of the Salisbury Investment Co. and a major Salt Lake City developer, the Felt Building is also significant architecturally as the city's oldest terra cotta-faced building and as an early example of the Sullivanesque style in Utah. Designed by master architect, R.K.A. Kletting, the Felt Building was and remains today, a five-story office and retail structure. The building was originally owned by O.J. Salisbury, a major figure in Utah mining, and housed the Salisbury Investment Company.
Hotel Plandome — This building was not originally intended to be part of Samuel Newhouse's non-Mormon business district, since it was built before the other structures on Exchange Place. It is significant historically because its builder, Albert Fisher, like Newhouse was a non-Mormon businessman of Eastern European descent. Fisher was born in Germany in 1852, and came to Utah in the early 1870's. Therefore, it can be considered as part of the non-Mormon district developed by Newhouse. Albert Fisher founded the Fisher Brewing Company on the west side of Salt Lake City in 1884. His business flourished and in 1903 he retained Richard K.A. Kletting to design this hotel. The contractor was the Lanston Lime and Cement Company. The building was estimated to cost $25,000.00. Fisher's wife owned the Alma Fisher Properties Company and owned much real estate in Salt Lake City.
Newhouse Realty Building (44-56 and 62-64 Exchange Place) — Although this building was built after Samuel Newhouse went bankrupt in 1915, it can still be considered part of this Exchange Place Historic District historically. Originally owned by the Newhouse Realty Company, this building was constructed in 1917 by C.J. Hutchinson. The upper molding of this building is engraved with the initial "N" for Newhouse, the original developer of the area. It was built to be used as commercial office space and today houses three commercial enterprises. Architecturally and historically, this building blends with the character of the district.
"Utah, the Inland Empire," Deseret News, Salt Lake City, UT, 1902.
"Sketches of the Inter-Mountain States," Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, UT 1909.
"Men of Affairs in the State of Utah," Press Club of Salt Lake City, S.L.C.,UT, 1914.
Utah Since Statehood, Volume II, S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago-Salt Lake, 1919.
Gary B. Hansen, "Industry of Destiny: Copper in Utah," Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol.31, Number 3 (Summer 1963), p.262.
† Lois Harris, Kim Cainer, Researchers, and Allen D. Roberts, Architectural Historian, Historic Utah, Inc., Exchange Place Historic District, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, nomination document, 1977, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.