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Utah Centennial Studies


Home Sweet Home Packet B


Nilsson family restores three-story Danish Queen Anne Ephraim home
by Kaye Watson

ohn Dorius (back right), the original owner of the 1897 Dorius house.EPHRAIM--"Remove it or restore it," a continual problem addressed by many Sanpete residents, has been answered here to the Nilsson family's delight.

Ephraim in 1897 was a busy, bustling town when John Dorius Jr. built his three-story Queen Anne brick home at 46 West 100 North. About five years later, the Dorius family moved to Salt lake, selling their new home to E.M. Olson who operated the nearby Consolidated Wagon Company.

Later the home was occupied by Dr. Nielson who had his office there, Francis Gurney, Leon Olsen, a Snow College president, and others. When invited to the Dorius' open house, the thoughts of modern central heating, combined with indoor plumbing, caused many Ephraimites to refuse in the grounds that the terrible vapors would be poisonously fatal.

Of course, when no one expired, the superstitious became less reluctant to visit.

The Nilssons, especially Susie, having long been interested in older homes, moved specifically from Roosevelt to Manti to have a better chance of finding an older home to restore and live in.

During their Eastern Utah days, a favorite annual event was traveling to Salt Lake's Historic Home Tour to view the beautiful restorations, renovations, and decorative ideas in those historic homes.

Along the way they collected ideas for their own dream home.

Moving from their rented older home in Manti to a newer Ephraim home, the Nilssons became aware of the old Dorius home then owned by Gary Phelps who had used it as Snow College rental space for women.

Phelps had completed new wiring, plumbing, added several bathrooms, carpeted the whole house, and completed other projects in the thirteen-room home, alone with detailed research into the home's history. It was placed on the National Historic Register in 1985.

Although these projects had been done, the Nilssons wanted to add their own special touches.

They faced the challenge of removing old wallpaper and paint to find original paper and colors, as well as insuring that all odd-shaped roof areas were covered by new wood shingles.

After many hours of deliberation, they decided on the distinctive colors for the exterior trim which makes the home so visually outstanding.

Garrett Nilsson (Ephraim Elementary 5th grader), present occupant of the Dorius House.They also installed a modern gas furnace, lawn sprinklers, and new carpeting downstairs.

Special features include a beautifully wood paneled entry area, hand-grained pine, several pocket doors, transom windows, stenciled trim in several rooms, cut glass and Victorian frieze, and matching chandeliers in the parlor.

The spacious high-ceilings compliment the Nilsson's collection of inherited antique furniture and old laundry items, along with carefully collected antique pieces snatched up at auctions and special sales.

There is plenty of space for kids and their toys as well.

Of particular interest to historians and architects is the three-story wooden barn north of the home, reported to be one of Utah's finest and rarest examples of Danish construction.

Research revealed the dancing bears from a traveling circus were housed in the barn because of its unique construction.

Susie would like to see a walking tour of Ephraim's historic places.