The Alfred W. McCune Mansion (200 North Main Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
The Alfred W. McCune Mansion, a three-story twenty-one room home, is still in excellent condition. It has not changed significantly since the architect, S.C. Dallas, wrote the following laudatory description of the mansion in 1916.
"The exterior finish is dark red brick with brownstone trimmings and a dark roof of Holland tiles. The house is located on a corner of the hillside...which overlooks the whole city and gives a view from the windows which impresses one with panoramic grandeur. Entering from the side door one is ushered into the sitting room which has large casement windows extending to the floor, comfortably furnished for the family daily life.
The main hall is furnished in English oak. The wainscotting here is probably the finest piece of work of the kind in the United States. The great fireplace is built of Nubian marble of a rich reddish brown, with beautiful markings; it extends from the ceiling to floor and one can stand under the shelf. It's a very interesting piece of work, there being no more beautiful fireplaces in existence. The carvings here, and indeed all over the house are hand finished.
The vestibule itself is finished in old English oak with beamed ceilings. Half way up the stairway is a balcony overhanging the stairs. This is composed of deep oak paneling filled with beautiful art glass which is artificially lighted for night use. Under this balcony is another alcove once outfitted with seats and rugs. The dining room is English Renaissance in design, the woodwork being of old mahogany and the ceiling handpainted. It is interesting to know that this particular piece of exquisite still life painting took the artist three months to complete. Indeed, the artist spent two years painting the ceilings and panels of this house...
The drawing room belongs to no school of design, yet its style and furnishings suggest the French palaces of Louis XIV. Although avoiding stately and gorgeous efforts, the room is a marvel of beauty. The rose stain brocaded walls with the exquisite panels of Watteay paintings over the doorways; the white satin grained mahogany, the rarest wood on earth and found only in South America, the broad mirror which mirrors hold the wall on one side, the chandeliers of harmonious design and cut glass fittings, these form a fitting background for the works of art which claim the eye of the beholder. The life-size statue of Cleopatra is said to be one of the finest portrayals of the ancient queen in existence. The other life-sized statue of Nydia, the blind girl, has also a story. Back of the drawing room...[was] the library,
The small reception room which opens from the drawing room, is octagonal in plan and finished in San Domingo mahogany...
On the second floor is the central hall sitting room with a wondrously carved Flemish screen dividing it from the stairway. Leading from this hall is the curio room, which is prototype of an old English hall with open timbered roof, a large open fireplace, forming inglenook. The finishing...[is] old oak...
The chambers are dreams of beauty. The principal one belonging to Mrs. McCune is furnished in a white enamel and pink brocade and white lace in its furnishings. Mr. McCune's room is oval in plan and was designed as much for a den as for a chamber room. It has a large fireplace of Utah onyx while the finish of the room is of specially selected red mahogany. The three concave doors of this room are cut from the same log...Each door is one solid piece with hand-carved panels. The walls are hung in golden green Russian leather set with old brass nails. The ceiling is beamed with large mahogany cornice running around the entire room.
There are six other private and guest rooms on this floor and it would be difficult to decide which is the greater merit. The two guest rooms with their private baths are exquisite in design and finish.
The bathroom which connects the two chambers on one side has the floors, walls, and ceiling of pure white Carrara marble, from which marble the Italian sculptors sculpted their statuary. The texture between this and ordinary marble is as the difference between calico and velvet. The large mirror fills one side of the bathroom and reflects the fireplace opposite...
Going up to the ballroom one enters at once into the realm of a fairyland. There are four alcoves, while the walls on every side reflect vistas innumerable. The artificial marble called scagelola, which forms most of the furnishings of this ballroom required importation of a man from Germany, and he was eight months in making this practically unknown at that time, composition.
Leading from the ballroom is the banquet room. This is a copy of a famous hall in an English manor. Finished in mahogany with beamed ceiling, and frieze from the top of the wainscotting is the remarkable work. It portrays the hunting scenes, woodlands, and haunts of Robin Hood and Rob Roy..."
The overall composition of the mansion is quite similar to a house either copied by or perhaps even designed by Dallas in New York City. Both structures appear to have stylistic similarities to the large shingle style houses located primarily along the eastern seacoast and described by Vincent J. Scully, Jr. in his The Shingle Style and the Stick Style.
Despite the variety of building materials and textures, the facade is of a uniform reddish brown color. The main entry and veranda are composed of a rusticated sandstone base and intervening columns with carved capitals and base. The floor of the veranda is mosaic tile.
The next strong division in the facade is of finely coursed brick. The emphasis of the window above the veranda roof and over the main entry is a finely carved border and sculpted mullions. To the right of the emphasized window is a small porch which wraps around the southeast side. The corner turret is of rusticated brick. The finely carved triple rounded plasters with carved capitals support the rusticated lintels over each window. A deep cornice sharply defines the termination of the turret's shaft and the pointed conical roof of reddish brown pantiles. A strong deep cornice separates the brick division from the flared division of the upper story gable and roof which is composed of reddish born pantiles.
The third and upper division is composed of reddish-brown pantiles. Three windows are indented from the balcony and a double-flared eave is apparent on the face of the gable.
The McCune Mansion was designed by architect S.C. Dallas for Alfred W. McCune and wife Elizabeth. The McCunes financed a two year tour of the United States and Europe for the architect to study architectural styles and techniques before plans were drawn for the home. Working closely with Mrs. McCune, the home was designed by S.C. Dallas and the construction completed in 1901.
Alfred W. McCune was born July 11, 1849 at Fort William, Dum Dum, Calcutta, India. His father, Major Matthew McCune was an officer in the British Army Division Survey in East London. The McCune family was converted to the Mormon faith in 1851 and in November of 1856 they left India for Utah and arrived in Salt Lake City, September 21, 1857.
Choosing the railroad for business rather than farming, Alfred began taking contracts to build portions of the Utah Southern Railroad in 1870. During the next decade he became one of the largest railroad contractors in the Rocky Mountain area.
In 1880, McCune left railroad building and entered the timber and mining business in Montana. Again he was unusually successful, and after eight years in Montana the McCunes moved to Salt Lake City in 1888. Mr. McCune entered into numerous mining ventures in the United States, Canada, and South America. Locally he purchased the Salt Lake City Streetcar system.
In 1920, they moved to Los Angeles and the home was given to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It housed the McCune School of Art and Music until 1958 when the Brigham Young University Salt Lake City Center moved into the building. The mansion had been vacated and resold.
The home is one of the most elaborate and beautiful mansions in the state of Utah. The story of Alfred W. McCune, symbolized by the magnificent structure, indicates that the Horatio Alger tradition could be found also among the Mormons of Utah even at a time when the church was emphasizing a somewhat socialistic cooperative movement (1880-1968).
Baskin-McCune Carriage House
The Alfred W. McCune carriage house was built for Judge R. N. Baskin in connection with his home which was designed by Henry Monheim and built in 1872. The home was built of stone in a Greek cross plan, had a square tower on the roof at the crossing of the ridges, had fifteen rooms, cost $40,000, and was similar in design to homes illustrated in Andrew Jackson Downing's The Architecture of Country Houses. The substantial carriage house was built to the north of Judge Baskin's residence and was retained by the McCune family after razing the Baskin home prior to erecting the McCune Mansion. The carriage house has historic associations of its own, having been remodeled in 1926 and used for two years as the Mormon meetinghouse of the Capitol Hill Ward.
Architecturally, the carriage house was patterned after Judge Baskin's residence and was constructed of the same cut Red Butte sandstone and featured similar massing. Built on a hillside, the carriage house varies from one story tall on the north to two stories on the south. The roof is gabled, the cornice is moulded and returns, all bays are square. When converted to a church use, a one-story addition was made to the southwest corner of the building and the stone was covered with stucco. It was the intention of the owners of the McCune Mansion to restore the carriage house as well as the mansion which was undergoing National Park Service-assisted restoration at the time of the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.