Guests tour historical Fisher Mansion in Salt Lake City

Published: Sunday, May 16 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker talks with Nancy Bemis at the Fisher Mansion in Salt Lake City Saturday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Time moves forward. That was evident at the Albert Fisher Mansion Saturday. The historical site, bought by the city in 2006, is nestled in the middle of an industrial park on the west side of Salt Lake City next to the Jordan River. Its surroundings are a clear reminder that the building was there long before the adjacent interstate or Questar parking lot.

But its charm came through for guests from the community at an open house to raise money for its renovations. Women bustled around the old mansion's parlors in 1800s garb, and on the front lawn the Highland High School band played music that matched the atmosphere of the cotton candy treats and old-time root beer being passed out to the crowd.

Mary Beth Riemondy, the great-granddaughter of Albert Fisher, was one of the women in period costume. Though the house is no longer in her family, she voiced a strong opinion in seeing the house being reused by the community.

"We want see it go back to the west side," Riemondy said. "We hope it can be a jewel for the west side."

Architect Richard Kletting, the same architect who designed Utah's Capitol, built the mansion in 1893 for Albert Fisher. The German immigrant came to Salt Lake City and began a brewery. From there, the house was donated to the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese and offered homeless men with alcohol and drug abuse problems a home.

Since then, the city has bought the property as an asset the Jordan River Parkway Trail. Salt Lake City is looking to restore the 117-year-old building and gift it to the surrounding community. New pipes protruded from century-old brick, and add-ons like a stainless steel sink feel out of place against the mansion's yellowed walls. Every stair in the three-story house creaks.

Restoring the building comes with a hefty price tag. To complete the project by just focusing on foundational and structural repairs would cost $647,875, according to architecture firm CRSA. To restore the building and bring it back to its former glory would cost $1,780,390.

While the costs are no small amount of change, politicians, including Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Rob Bishop, have supported restoring the building. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker stopped by Saturday for the festivities and to announce his support of the project.

"This is really a treasure for this neighborhood," he said. "Its proximity being along the Jordan River is great in terms of providing access to the river. It is one of the architectural gems of our city."

e-mail: gbarker@desnews.com

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