The Fisher Mansion in Salt Lake City on August 28, 2019. Salt Lake City plans to begin stabilization work on the historic building in 2024. (Carter Williams, KSL.com)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Despite having lived in the Salt Lake Valley for most of his life, Baron Gajkowski was completely unfamiliar with the Fisher Mansion and its history until he was recently invited to visit its adjacent coach house, a separate building being converted into a new recreation. hub along the Jordan River Parkway.
But Gajkowski, project manager for development firm CW Urban, was immediately amazed upon touring the 129-year-old building designed by Richard Kletting.
“It was so cool to walk around and see the historic architecture,” Gajkowski said Thursday.
Although the visit was informative, he also learned about the risks the mansion faces. It was damaged by the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Salt Lake County in March 2020. Then, earlier this year, a vandal broke in and stole the original brass fence from the exterior of the property before it could be restored.
The first steps to saving the building are now beginning to fall into place.
Tyler Murdock, Salt Lake City’s deputy director of public lands, told the Salt Lake City Historic Landmarks Commission on Thursday that the city plans to begin work to stabilize the mansion in 2024, though additional work is needed by the city. suite to restore the building to its former glory. It is also unclear how the building will be used in the future. The stabilization project is one of many included in a sales tax revenue bond that Salt Lake City Council approved earlier this year.
He provided an update while discussing the progress of the department’s Fisher Shed renovation project, which is expected to be completed in March 2023. When completed, the building will house various department offices and a small community event space.
A brief history of the property
Both buildings date from 1893, in the Poplar Grove neighborhood of Salt Lake City at 1206 W. 200 South.
Kletting designed the building and coachhouse for Albert Fisher, a prominent brewer who opened one of the state’s first breweries in 1884. While the family name sounds familiar today, his great-grandson and others relaunched the Fisher Brewing Company brand in 2017, after the original company disappeared in 1967.
Its architect is also a name people may have heard before. Kletting went on to design several iconic buildings in Salt Lake City and other parts of the state during his lifetime, leaving a long list of works that includes the original Saltair (also completed in 1893), the Enos Wall Mansion , the New York Hotel and, of course, the Utah State Capitol.
It remained a house until 1945, when it was transformed into a convent by the missionary sisters Notre-Dame de la Paix and Notre-Dame de la Victoire. It then became a residential facility for drug addicts in the 1970s before closing in 2006. Salt Lake City acquired the property that year and helped put it on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
It has been difficult to know what to do with the property until recently.
“There’s a lot of disappointment with what’s happened in the last few years, especially, and since there’s been vandalism,” said Poplar Grove resident and historian Nan Weber.
The transport house project is coming to an end
Mostly vacant for over a decade, several city master plans have marked the Fisher Mansion and the shed for some sort of future public use.
The ball started rolling when the city received a federal grant in 2014 that helped pay for seismic upgrades to the Fisher shed. Then, in 2019, the Salt Lake City Council approved a $1.3 million plan to turn the shed into an office space, recreation center, and event space on Salt Lake City public lands.
There have been some delays since then, but crews recently completed landscaping and irrigation improvements, as well as “many preservation features,” according to Murdock. He said the project is still on track for completion in March 2023.
The shed will house agents of the Salt Lake City Park Ranger program, as well as Salt Lake City Public Lands Outreach Officers and Volunteers. It will feature six booth spaces and a 1,200 square foot open room that can be reserved for community meetings, small events or rotating exhibit space.
It is clear that there is an interest in space. Fisher Brewing Company held a beer garden event there that drew 3,000 people over a two-day period in October.
“It was a wonderful event and I really think this space and this type of event is how we can move forward in activating the Fisher Mansion outdoor space and shed,” Murdock said.
Save Fisherman’s Mansion
With the project nearing completion, the city is ready to turn its sights to the Fisher Mansion now. Like the coach shed, the town will begin to stabilize before the renovation. Initial work is expected to cost around $3 million.
The city will also have help as it moves forward.
How could you not cheer and cheer and do all you can to preserve such a wonderful part of our history?
Gajkowski began to become more involved with Fisher properties after his tour earlier this year. This led to an invitation for a group of others – like Weber – interested in preserving the building, which led to the creation of the Friends of Fisher Mansion, a recently certified local non-profit organization.
He and Weber agree that the earthquake and vandalism incidents helped push the Fisher Mansion up the list of preservation priorities, referring to the vandalism incident as the “last straw”.
“People were like, ‘OK, let’s not let it go any further than it already has,’ Weber said. building.”
The nonprofit made its first public appearance at Thursday’s commission meeting, where the group expressed interest in helping the city restore the building in future years. Gajkowski and Weber say they’re glad the city is working to stabilize the building, just in case another earthquake could cause even more damage.
“Part of our goal is to receive adequate funding – private or public – to move forward with the revitalization and to really make this building stand out the way it should,” Gajkowski said.
The non-profit organization’s goal is to preserve the mansion and make it a “centerpiece” of the community.
It may already be just that. Gajkowski points to the success of last month’s beer garden event as proof that residents care about the future of the building.
“How could you not cheer and cheer and do whatever you can to preserve such a wonderful part of our history?” he said. “There’s quite a bit of excitement there and our goal is to keep that growing, where she can continue to be such a wonderful part (of the community) and well known as well.”