KLETTING, RICHARD KARL AUGUST
Richard K.A. Kletting
Richard K.A. Kletting, "Dean of Utah Architects," helped to
change the face of turn-of-the-century Salt Lake City. He was born in Wurttemberg,
Germany, on 1 July 1858 to Joseph and Wilhelmina Kletting, and was one of
their sixteen children. Kletting's ambition to become an architect began
when he was fifteen, when he worked in a stone yard, gaining experience
in cutting stones. At the age of sixteen, he became a junior draftsman in
government engineering offices on railroad construction work. Kletting later
traveled to Paris, where he became well-schooled in modern architecture.
In 1883 Kletting left for America, and traveled west until he arrived in
Salt Lake City. On the day following his arrival, he was hired as an architect,
and began work on what was to become a large number of Salt Lake City buildings.
Through his work on both residential and commercial projects, Kletting became
the most noted architect in Salt Lake City. In 1892, at the age of thirty-four,
he began work on what was to become one of his largest and most distinct
works--the original Saltair resort on the south shore of the Great Salt
Lake. Completed in 1893, the resort was unlike any other building in Utah,
with its intricate woodwork and Moorish appearance. The most prominent feature
was the resort's vast dance floor, proclaimed as the largest in the world.
Saltair became one of the Intermountain West's most popular resort attractions.
Even more striking was Kletting's last and most famous work--the Utah State
Capitol building, which was completed in 1916. Kletting was chosen over
forty other architects in a competition on 13 March 1912. The State Capitol
building is a massive and proud structure, with classic Greek and renaissance
characteristics, including a well-proportioned dome and a colonnade of twenty-four
Other noteworthy Kletting buildings include many schools, including the
still standing Oquirrh School, which was constructed in 1909. The McIntyre
Building, located at 68 South Main Street, is also a Kletting design. Kletting
also contributed to the heritage of fine homes along South Temple. The Enos
Wall mansion, built in 1905, today stands as the centerpiece structure of
the LDS Business College.
After completing the state capitol, Kletting entered semi-retirement, which
enabled him to devote some time as a public official. He was an honorary
member of the Utah Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and
the Utah Society of Professional Engineers, among other groups.
Kletting also had a strong interest in forestry. Having been dedicated to
the preservation of Utah's forests, in 1891 he organized the Utah Forestry
Association which helped to prevent the mismanagement of Utah's forests
and mountains. His efforts were recognized in 1964 when a 12,000-foot peak
in Summit Country was formally named "Kletting Peak." Kletting
died in Salt Lake City on 25 September 1943.
See: Paul Goldener, "Utah Catalog--Historic American Buildings Survey,"
Utah Heritage Foundation (1969).
Troy W. Gold