Sunday, June 19, 2011

Touring the Historic Salt Lake City County Building

Last week we took a tour of the Salt City and County Building.  This beautiful building was built in 1891, well construction started in 1891 and it took three years to construct.  Originally estimated to cost $350,000 to bid, the final bill was nearly $900,000.  Sadly because they were so grossly over budget, the proposed stain glass windows had to be cut from the project.  After seeing the building, I’m curious where the stain glass would’ve gone and how it would’ve affected the interior choices of the building.
The architectural style of the building is Richardsonian Romanesque.  Romanesque Revival  incorporates elements from the 11th and 12th centuries.  The Richardsonian part comes from architect Henry Hobson Richardson who used the Romanesque style in all of his architectural endeavors, his most notable work being Trinity Church in Boston.  Richardson passed away prior to the start of construction  of this building, but the arches over the windows, enormous columns that support the entry ways and balconies and the size of the rough stone blocks of the exterior help to identify this style as Richardsonian Romanesque. 
The building is carved from gray Utah Kyune sandstone.  When it was renovated in the late 70’s and early 80’s the structure underwent a seismic upgrade called base isolation which placed the structure on a foundation of steel and rubber to better protect it from earthquake damage.  A French sculptor named, Linde, did all of the intricate carved figures adorning the building.  His inspiration was early history and heritage of the community.  On the exterior you can see a sun rising behind a beehive flanked by pioneers, sea creatures from Lake Bonneville, fleur-de-lis, an eagle, an owl, a mountain lion, eel, crocodile, roses and the sun representing the seasons.  There are also statues of Columbia, Justice, Liberty and two of Commerce that stand atop the buildings towers. In 1934 after an earthquake the statues were all removed for public safety.  Many years later the statues were replicated and replaced except the west facade’s Commerce, it is still original. 
Onyx lines the halls of each floor.  It is such an elegant stone that brings so much character to the space and was donated by the Utah Onyx Company in 1893.  The onyx is paired with oak moldings and wainscoting as well as multi-colored tiled floors.  The elevators feature embossed copper wallpaper which is gorgeous. 
During restoration in the 80’s a drop tile ceiling was removed and what was discovered is spectacular.  The ceiling was lined with a quatrefoil (clover shape) and circle motif which rests atop a series of trefoil (also a clover shape, but with 3 vs. 4) arches.  These arches sit atop a piece of molding supported by pilasters capped with Romanesque capitals.  The pilaster is basically a column on the wall and the capital is the decorative piece that sits atop it.  This trefoil arch pattern is again present at the base of the room as a relief in the wainscoting and its painted red with white highlights.
I could honestly go on and on about this building, but instead of babbling, I’ll show you a variety of the pictures taken. 

Don't forget to go take the tour for yourself.  It is worth it!

The interior elevator wallpaper.

The fifth floor ceiling with quatrefoil motif atop trefoil arches.

The lower wainscoting with trefoil arches.

Pilasters with Romanesque capitals.

In the clock tower.  Notice where the stairs use to be.

The view up the stairs to the clock tower.

Exterior view of the clock tower from the roof.

The view down from the fifth floor.

Onyx wainscoting below oak chair rail.

Ladies Toilet on the main level.  The bathrooms were not as pretty inside as they are on the outside.

Exterior of the building.

Scroll work in the iron railings.

Bells in the clock tower.

More bells.

A view from the roof.

Another view from the roof.

How gorgeous are the tiles and moldings?

Beautiful banisters.

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