P.H. Lannan, recent subject of one of our blog posts, purchased the Commerce Building on the corner of Second Street and West Temple in 1901 for around $90,000. We also recently featured a piece on Henry H. Lawrence, one of the owners who sold the building to Lannan. Lawrence’s niece, Florence Kimball Woodruff, was another of the owners. We were not able to find as much information on her as the two men, but she seems like a fascinating woman.
She was born in Utah in the early 1860s and passed away in October of 1924. She was married to Russell C. Woodruff in 1892 and was widowed just 5 years later (we have her wedding license here at Salt Lake County Archives, and an image of it is included below). The wedding announcement in the Salt Lake Herald describe Woodruff as a comparative stranger, but went on to say he was a “sterling business man.” Meanwhile, the description of Florence was glowing: “Miss Kimball, who has lived always in Salt Lake, is universally popular for her intelligence and many noble and womanly attributes. Her indefatigable interest and activity in behalf of the poor have endeared her to all alike.”
Florence and Woodruff had two children, Russell and Adelaide. They would have been three and one respectively when they lost their father. Russell would go on to marry Margaret Mcintyre in 1917 and have at least four children. Adelaide married a New York stockbroker, had two children, and passed away in 1930.
The Woodruffs were regularly featured in the society pages; Adelaide’s picture graced the Salt Lake Telegram’s pages at least twice. Florence and Adelaide were both involved in charitable work and traveled extensively. They spent a great deal of time on the East Coast and made more than one lengthy trip to Europe. Florence also went to the Mediterranean, Egypt, and the Holy Land. She even made it to Alaska. However, not all of her trips went smoothly. She was injured in an auto crash while in Los Angeles, California and suffered a broken arm. The woman she was with fared worse, likely because she, Mrs. Sarah McChrystal, saw the crash coming and tried to jump out of the car, even though she was 71 years old. She landed on the other car involved, was knocked out and ended up with three broken ribs and several cuts and abrasions.
In addition to her charity work, Florence was involved in women’s clubs, particularly the Ladies’ Literary Club. She also loved art and was part of that scene as well, including involvement in planning an exhibit for Utah artists. In 1907, she also tried to make things easier for working women by contributing to improvements to the YWCA, so that women would have a safe comfortable place to rest, eat, and socialize while passing through Salt Lake or those who had business in the city but who lived too far out to go home for lunch. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “This step is designed to meet a long felt need in this city, and the venture is certainly one deserving highest commendation and most hearty support.” Salt Lake wasn’t the only city that benefited from Woodruff’s generosity. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that she “was one of those rendering valuable assistance to the refugees,” of the deadly 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Florence Kimball Woodruff passed away on October 9th, 1924 after a short illness. Her obituary mentioned that she came “from old pioneer stock” and that she was an important and active member of the Ladies Literary Club as well as other clubs in Salt Lake. She was survived by her two children.
Entry contributed by Dr. Michaele Smith, Archivist, Salt Lake County Archives.