Utah History Encyclopedia


By Peter L. Goss

Utah State Hospital, Richard K. A. Kletting

Today's architect is most likely a graduate of an accredited, university-based architectural program. He or she has acquired a first professional degree, either a Bachelor's or a Master's of Architecture, has interned for at least three years with a registered architect, and has passed a registration examination administered by the NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards). The development of these professional standards evolved over many decades.

More than a century ago, in what was then Utah Territory, the development of design at the local level usually became the responsibility of a person in the building trades. This was common throughout the nation. A number of those tradespersons who were called upon to design specific buildings eventually expanded their design services and become known as architect-builders. These designers were joined by what is referred to as the amateur architect, often a person of some education or erudition who was fortunate enough to have access to books of design and to clients willing to engage him or her, either as a favor or for a fee. A notable eighteenth-century amateur architect of Virginia was none other than Thomas Jefferson. His home, Monticello, as well as his quadrangle at the University of Virginia display his familiarity with Roman Classicism primarily drawn from his famous collection of architectural books.

Professionally trained architects, or persons who derived their sole income from the design of buildings, appeared in the United States in the nineteenth century. They may have been the product of a formal apprenticeship with another "architect" or architect-builder, they may have studied abroad in a professional school such as the French Ecole des Beaux Arts (where they no doubt also apprenticed with an architect), or, by the latter half of the century, they may have secured an architectural education in a department of architecture attached to a major public or private American institution of higher learning. The first attempt to organize architects by profession began in the late 1850s with the establishment of the American Institute of Architects. Statewide chapters or local societies of the American Institute of Architects were eventually established as the number of architects increased. One outcome of the professionalism movement was the licensing of architects on a state-by-state basis in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

The development of the architectural profession in Utah followed the national pattern, albeit in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. The building of "Zion" in Utah involved a large number of buildings and designers. The colonizing efforts of Brigham Young included attracting numerous trades- and craftspeople, and also created a great need for the design of buildings. In addition to building entire communities - which included residential, civic, and commercial architecture - a number of different types of religious buildings were needed to satisfy the specific requirements of the Latter day Saints. Temples and tabernacles built in selected early communities joined chapels, found in every Mormon community, as well as specialized buildings such as tithing barns and bishop's storehouses.

Many of the early tradespersons who designed to suit the needs of their particular community have gone unrecognized. Luckily a few have been documented. Some of their well crafted stone houses and outbuildings still stand and are appreciated by those for whom they still provide shelter. Those individuals who eventually left their careers in the building trades to become architect-builders were usually found in larger population centers. A number of them worked in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints designing temples, tabernacles, chapels, and the houses of general authorities. Notable architect-builders for the LDS Church include Truman Angell, Sr., who worked on the Salt Lake Temple and other buildings on that temple block, and William Folsom, who was most well known for his design of the Manti Temple.

Travel was a major source of architectural inspiration and exposure for these designers, as was the reliance upon trade journals and published books of designs. Utah's remoteness, despite the transcontinental railroad, made training in architectural skills difficult to come by for those wishing to learn how to design. Young persons willing to apprentice in an office needed skills in drawing, drafting, mathematics, and technical classes before they even could apply. One popular method of obtaining those much needed skills was to enroll in correspondence classes. One of the most popular correspondence schools in the country was the International Correspondence School (ICS) of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Its curriculum included a wide variety of professional fields and its programs were popular in both the urban and rural communities of Utah. Davis County's most notable late nineteenth-century architect-builder, William Allen, took a series of ICS classes in 1897. He later went on to become a licensed architect in 1911. Architects Taylor Woolley and Hyrum Pope also studied via ICS in the early years of this century.

Those armed with the rudimentary skills received their practical experience as apprentices in architects' and engineers' offices in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Logan. Late nineteenth-century architects Richard K. A. Kletting and Walter E. Ware trained several generations of architects in their Salt Lake City offices. However, a more steady and lucrative training ground for young designers was in the shops of the West's railroads. In Utah, the Oregon Short Line was a major employer of young draftspersons. When these apprentices reached their maturity as architects it was not uncommon for them to receive commissions from railroad employees.

With one exception, formally trained architects were rare in later nineteenth and early twentieth-century Utah. The exception, Joseph Don Carlos Young (1855-1938), the last surviving son of Brigham Young, was the first architect in Utah to receive a formal education. He majored in civil engineering at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, from 1875 to 1879. After graduating, he engaged in railroading and engineering and was a two-term Utah territorial legislator before turning to architecture. In 1887, he succeeded Truman Angell, Sr., as LDS Church architect and remained in that position for fifty years. During 1888-89 he taught mechanical and architectural drafting in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Utah. Young was succeeded in this teaching role by William Ward, a stonecarver and sculptor, who turned architect after his return to Utah in 1888. In 1906, Young practiced in partnership with his son, Don Carlos Young, Jr. - a partnership that continued until 1915.

Joseph Don Carlos Young was also an exception to the late nineteenth-century architectural community since it was comprised of mostly non-Mormon, or "Gentile," architects from outside Utah Territory. Two of the most respected and most prolific of these professional Gentile architects were Richard K. A. Kletting and Walter E. Ware.

Kletting, the son of a German railroad builder, spent his early years in railroad camps. As a young man, during summers he learned stonecutting, and at sixteen he became a junior draftsman in the engineering office of the German railroad. After additional drafting work in a city engineer's office he went to Paris to work for a large construction firm. He immigrated to the United States in 1883, visited a number of cities on his trek west, and settled in Salt Lake City, where he was immediately employed. Two years after his arrival he advertised his profession in the Salt Lake City Directory for 1885. He designed large commercial buildings, church buildings for the LDS Church, and schools and residences. His most notable achievement was winning the design competition for the Utah State Capitol Building in 1912. Kletting, somewhat of a loner, was best known for his teaching. Aside from training a large number of Utah's future architects in his office, he also taught math and other subjects in his home. He was also credited with cataloging the book collection of the Salt Lake City Public Library. He was an avid conservationist, concerned about Utah's public lands and watershed areas. His interest in conservation was recognized in 1964 when a 12,000-foot peak in the Uinta Mountains was named in his honor.

Walter E. Ware, like his colleague, was also associated in his early years with the railroad. His father was an inventor and expert in steam shovel operations who had befriended Sidney Dillon of the Union Pacific railroad. After completing high school, Ware went to work in an architect's office and later in Union Pacific drafting offices. He eventually designed a number of buildings for Union Pacific. Ware opened an office in Salt Lake City in 1891 and practiced architecture for nearly sixty years, from 1891 to 1949. His early work was residential architecture. However, the scope of his practice changed as did the nature of the designs as he took on various partners. One of his longest partnerships was with Alberto O. Treganza, a Californian, influenced by Craftsman architecture and the midwest's Prairie School style. His last major partnership, from 1938 to 1949, was with Floyd McClanahan.

Kletting and Ware share the title "Dean of Utah Architecture. Both were known for the wide range of their commissions, their professional ethics, and the desire to impart their knowledge to future generations of Utah architects. Both were honored in November 1939 for their professional achievements at a lavish banquet at the Hotel Utah sponsored by fellow architects. Walter Ware also was honored as the first Fellow of the Utah Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The next generation of architects, many of whom were trained in the offices of these and other Gentile architects, included a number of Utah's native sons and recent converts to the LDS Church. Among the most notable was Taylor Woolley, who, after working briefly for Ware and Treganza, apprenticed in Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park studio. He was invited in 1909 to join Wright in Fiesole, Italy, where he worked on the architect's famous Wasmuth Portfolio, a lithographic record of Wright's notable designs.

The need for a professional organization of architects in Utah coincided with a state-imposed registration procedure for the profession. The earliest roster of architects is dated June 1911 and consisted of a large number of well-known architect-builders and architects. The majority came from Salt Lake City; however, a number also represented such cities as Provo, Logan, and Ogden. The earliest professional organization - the "Utah Association of Architects" - was established in 1911. In 1919 the professional community was invited to the "Institute of Utah Architects" first annual dinner at the Newhouse Hotel, hosted by President Walter E. Ware. It is unclear whether this was simply a renaming of the earlier organization or a new professional group.

In 1921, Utah received its charter for the Utah Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The chapter's territory included all of Utah as well as thirty-two counties of Idaho. Its fifteen members, all of whom were members of the earlier professional organizations, were simultaneously members of the AIA. Membership grew very slowly in the 1920s and very few of the members were Idaho architects. The membership dipped in the 1930s and early 1940s due to the Great Depression and war years. By the end of the 1940s membership nearly tripled, no doubt due to the postwar economic recovery. In 1942, Salt Lake architect Raymond J. Ashton was designated as the second fellow of the Utah chapter, and the following year he was nominated president of the national AIA at its annual meeting in Cincinnati.

In the 1920s numerous firms with a new generation of architects were established; however, many of these would be reorganized during the depression years. One firm among several that successfully survived the late 1920s and 1930s was that of Carl W. Scott and George W. Welch. One of their notable achievements in the 1920s was the planning and design of an entire new community for Utah Copper Company. Copperton, on the west side of the Salt Lake valley, represents the 1920s version of the company town, complete with schools, recreation facilities, and stuccoed masonry houses highlighted with copper decorative motifs. Scott and Welch went on to design schools, libraries, and public buildings throughout Utah as a result of the New Deal's W.P.A. program.

A formal architectural education for Utahns still remained a problem through the 1930s and early 1940s. No Utah institution of higher learning offered a professional architecture program. Some aspiring architects took the engineering curriculum at the University of Utah, followed by an apprenticeship in a local architectural firm; others left the state for architectural programs at such institutions as the University of California at Berkeley or the University of Oregon. Many others undertook the long road of the office apprenticeship and spent a decade or more in the drafting rooms of various firms before gaining eligibility for registration.

Thomas Kearns residence, Neu Hansen

Architect and educator Roger Bailey's founding of the department of architecture at the University of Utah in 1949 helped solve the problem. Bailey was inculcated with the Beaux Arts approach to design at Cornell University. Upon graduation, he spent several years working in various New York architectural firms. In 1922 he won the prestigious Paris Prize Competition and immediately headed for Paris. He remained in Europe for three years, during which time he traveled extensively on the continent. After additional work in New York offices, he joined the faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of Michigan, where he claimed his real education in architecture took place. While traveling west with his wife during the summer of 1948 he happened to stop at the University of Utah and inquire of President A. Ray Olpin why the university did not have an architectural program. Less than half a year later he was engaged in building such a program for forty-five students who had registered to take architectural classes in the basement of the university's Park Building. The first graduates of the program entered the practice of architecture during the 1950s. Roger Bailey's untiring efforts to provide a quality education for future architects in the Intermountain West is a benchmark in the history of the profession and simultaneously marks the culmination of the first century of the practice of architecture in Utah.