Brothel Surplus Sale

This less than innocuous heading on documents archived by the Salt Lake County Real Estate Division compelled us to look at the history of 270 Reed Avenue in Salt Lake City.

During the 1970s and 80s the occupants of 270 Reed Avenue were known to be running a brothel out of the house. Rather than conducting raids and arrests, which would not take the house from the brothel owners, Salt Lake City decided to press racketeering charges. A conviction allowed the County to confiscate the house, much to the relief of local residents. Eventually the house and its contents were put up for sale to the highest bidder. However, a deal was eventually struck with prior owners.

The house has been around since the 1800s and was built by an auspicious person in Utah history.  George Washington Hill was a part of the original Mormon pioneers who settled Utah. He led an active and productive life, establishing settlements and acting as a guide for subsequent pioneer groups. Around 1876 he and his wife moved from Ogden to Salt Lake City and built the house on Reed Avenue. At around the same time he petitioned Salt Lake City seeking title to the entire triangular parcel of land, which may have matched the borders of the present day block. Hill was an Indian interpreter in his later life and helped to establish the Shoshone community at Washakie. He would also become known for his book, Vocabulary of the Shoshone Language. The location, across from the hot springs, was apparently chosen because the springs were often frequented by Native Americans.

An old Salt Lake County tax appraisal mentions another name from Utah’s history in relation to the house. The 1987 appraisal has a memo entry indicating that the residence had been condemned but that it was of historical significance since it once belonged to Porter Rockwell. This claim has eluded verification so it may have been inaccurate, or perhaps is an exaggeration of a short stay by Rockwell in the short span of time between the building of the house and Rockwell’s death in 1878.

270 Reed Avenue circa 1936. Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 1-4011.

270 Reed Avenue circa 1936. Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 1-4011.

270 Reed Avenue, circa 1980s. House stood empty after confiscation and until return to original owners.

270 Reed Avenue, circa 1980s. House stood empty after confiscation and until return to original owners.

Entry contributed by Vincent Fazzi. Thanks, Vince! Hope you are doing well at your new job.  

This entry was posted in Interesting record discoveries, Salt Lake history and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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