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'Salt Lake City's Historic Architecture' takes delightful stroll through city

By Connie Lewis

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 1 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"IMAGES OF AMERICA: Salt Lake City's Historic Architecture," by Allen Dale Roberts, Arcadia Publishing, $21.99, 127 pages (nf)

Allen Dale Roberts lovingly writes of some of the outstanding architecture found in Salt Lake City in his book “Salt Lake City’s Historic Architecture.” Roberts is an award-winning architect and president of an architectural firm in Salt Lake that specializes in building restoration. He is also a former architectural historian of Utah’s State Historical Society. So when he describes these beautiful buildings, it is with a weight and knowledge that bring the buildings to life.

In the introduction, Roberts says that when pioneers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered the valley, “They brought with them builder architects, skilled craftsmen, tools, architectural guidebooks, city plans and their previous design and construction experience.” He goes on to say that early LDS Church leaders were “interested in creating buildings of style.”

Following this early building period and with the arrival of the railroad, other talented architects from Europe and the East brought their ideas and designs to add to the diversity already blossoming around the valley.

The book has pictures from more than 200 structures and describes each according to details and style. Types of buildings, including religious, industrial and single-family residences, arrange the chapters. Some of the buildings are still standing and can be viewed in person while others have sadly been lost. Some were demolished to make way for other structures or razed by fires.

Not only is the book a description of the buildings in Salt Lake, each story tells a little of the history of the city. Roberts says about one of the commercial buildings, ”The Bertolini Block, one of the few surviving commercial buildings associated with the city’s ethnic minority population, was built in 1891-1892 by Ignacio Bertolini for $5,000. He was an Italian immigrant and real estate developer.”

In describing the Mining and Stock Exchange that was built in 1908, Roberts says, “During the uranium boom of the 1950s it exchanged more shares of stock daily than the New York Stock Exchange.”

The descriptions also give the reader an interesting tutorial in architectural designs. Everything, from French Second Empire and Victorian Italianate to the more modern Prairie Style created by Frank Lloyd Wright, is mentioned and explained.

This is wonderful addition to Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series. With fascinating details that give a sense of taking a leisurely afternoon stroll through beautiful and familiar neighborhoods, Roberts paints a picture of Salt Lake City past and present.

After attending Brigham Young University and the University of Utah for five years and not being able to settle on just one major, Connie Lewis decided to be a writer so she could keep studying all things wonderful and new.

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