Utah Mining and the Built Environment

“Being the center of a region rich in resources and enormous in area, nothing can prevent Salt Lake from becoming one of the largest and most important cities in the west.”  Samuel Newhouse, 1908

The history of Salt Lake County is inextricably tied to the extraction and alteration of natural resources for human use.  The mining of mineral resources has not only shaped the environment and visible landscape of Salt Lake County, but has also had a direct impact on the built environment.  As previous blog entries have discussed, entire communities in Salt Lake County have arisen and disappeared as a result of the spread of the open pit copper mine on the county’s western border. 

The history of mining also directly ties to some of the most interesting buildings in the county’s urban landscape.  In 1896 mining magnate Samuel Newhouse moved to Salt Lake County and with business partner Thomas Weir began acquiring several Bingham Canyon mines, discovering  the high concentration of copper in that area.  In the early 1900s, Newhouse used this fortune and influence to design and build the first skyscrapers that would grace the skyline of Salt Lake City, and in 1907 construction began on the buildings of what would come to be known as Exchange Place.  Newhouse, as a non-Mormon businessman, hoped that this area would serve as a new, or at least rival, center for downtown Salt Lake City.

Two of those buildings were named for Newhouse.  The Newhouse Hotel, at the southwest corner of 400 South and Main Street, was completed in 1915.  This photograph and plat diagram from the Archives’ Tax Appraisal collection shows the hotel circa 1939.  Today the site is a parking lot. 

Newhouse Hotel, circa 1939.

Newhouse Hotel, circa 1939.

Plot plan drawing of the Newhouse Hotel, circa 1939.

Perhaps the most notable buildings conceived by Newhouse were the Newhouse Building and its partner the Boston Building.   Completed around 1910, these distinctive buildings at Exchange Place and Main Street still serve to help define Salt Lake City’s urban landscape.  Again, using photos from the tax appraisal collection, we can see the buildings as they appeared circa 1940.  

Newhouse Building, circa 1940.

Newhouse Building, circa 1940.

Boston Building, circa 1940.

Boston Building, circa 1940.


Hynda Rudd, “Samuel Newhouse: Utah Mining Magnate and Land Developer,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly, July 1979, 298-302.

Tax Appraisal Cards and Photographs: Newhouse Hotel, serial 1-1644; Newhouse Building, serial 1-1960; Boston Building, serial 1-1961. Salt Lake County Archives. 

Research and writing of this Utah Archives Month entry by Dr. Jenel Cope, Salt Lake County’s Volunteer Archivist. 

This entry was posted in Salt Lake history, Utah Archives Month and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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