BY SABRINA LEE
The wood restorer lived at the building for five months to complete the job.
In Utah, May is Archeology and Historic Preservation Month. The Utah State Historic Preservation Office has month long events that connect people to the past.
Weber County has over 2,000 historic buildings/residential homes, but only 65 properties are on the National Register. One of those houses that has been on the registry since the early 1980’s is the Dennis A. Smyth house located in Ogden. The home’s unique architecture is listed as Victorian Eclectic.
The original owner and resident was Ephriam H. Nye. The home was designed by S.T. Whitaker, and Mr. Nye and his wife Harriett lived there until about 1897. The second owner was Dennis A. Smyth and his family. They purchased the home in 1898 but did not move in until 1910. The home has had some famous visitors over the years. President William Taft stayed there overnight, as well as the President of Ireland Eamen de Valera, and the famous Irish singer Chauncey Allcot.
Mr. Smyth died in 1922, and his wife Mary deeded the property to D. Lowell Kerr in 1939. Three years later, it was deeded to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake. From 1948 through 1967 the home was The Christ is King Convent, run by Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters. The sisters ran an orphanage out of the home, as well. The home was purchased by its present owner in the late 1970’s.
Linda Ward, with her brother and husband Erik, spent many years restoring the home to get it as close as possible to the way it was when the Sisters occupied it, with the exception of the alter. It has been used since its restoration as a commercial building for the Gridley, Ward, and Hamilton Law Office since then.
I had the opportunity to speak with Linda and talk about the process of what they did to restore and preserve the building. They had to completely gut the interior. The spiral staircase is original, and most of the chandeliers are as well.
The difficulties they ran into were theft, some of the chandeliers were stolen at one point, and vandalism. I asked Linda, “What is the one thing you would want people to know about owning and restoring a historic home or building?” She replied that it “takes a lot of money and patience, but it is worth it.”
Our community is lucky enough to still have people like Linda Ward that are willing to preserve the past for future generations. So, what can you do to celebrate preservation month? As the days grow longer, and the heat dwindles in the evening, take a slow drive through some of the older neighborhoods and look for historic homes.
Are you a History Buff? Do you have a local history or ancestor story you would like to share? We want to hear from you! Email email@example.com with your stories, and we might feature them in the magazine.