Members of the Ladies' Literary Club of Salt Lake City has given ownership of the elegant 1913 Prairie-style building at 850 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, to the Utah Heritage Foundation.
In making the announcement, Ladies' Literary Club President Laraine Christensen said the board made the decision to give their club's 'home' to Utah Heritage Foundation after considering a number of alternatives. She said declining membership and increasing expenses and tax obligations made it necessary for the Club to transfer ownership. “As our legacy, our desire is to preserve the character of this wonderful building and are very excited about the Foundation's plans to make the building available to the public for performances, weddings, meetings and other public and private functions, and to ensure its future on South Temple.”
Utah Heritage Foundation President David Richardson accepted the gift on behalf of the Foundation and the people of Utah. He said the Ladies' Literary Club has maintained the building in excellent condition but renovation is needed to return the luster of earlier years. “We will immediately embark on a fund-raising campaign to help us make repairs and improvements prior to re-opening the Club for public and private functions, hopefully in the next year,” he said. He said the estimate for initial phase of renovation is $500,000.
The Ladies' Literary Club was founded in 1877 to promote literary and artistic endeavors, and its members played an important role in the development of public libraries in Utah. They were involved and influential in philanthropy and public service projects and boasted a membership of more than 500 active members at any one time. Many generations of the most prominent families in Utah were members.
To provide a home for the organization which had moved around over the early years, the Ladies raised the funds themselves and engaged prominent architects Walter E. Ware and Alberto O. Treganza to design a building especially for them. After a design competition, the building was completed in 1913. In 1977, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Utah Heritage Foundation Executive Director Kirk Huffaker said the Foundation sees itself as stewards for this important landmark, “an architectural gem and important public resource.” As new owners of the building, Huffaker said they will serve as the conservators and operators, much like they do with Memorial House in Memory Grove. “We envision the Ladies' Literary Club as a wonderful venue for weddings, banquets, celebrations, meetings, recitals, and events, much like it has been in the past, and now available to the public.” We will have a series of open houses before we begin renovation and invite everyone to come see this fabulous historic clubhouse. More information is located on the Foundation's website.