The historic Eagles Building, formerly home of the Eagles Fraternity and Equitable Insurance, has recently been added to the list of restored buildings on Salt Lake City's west side.
The building, located on 404 S. West Temple, is now known as The Bay Entertainment Co., owned and operated by Trace Sweeten and Rob Blackhurst.Bay Entertainment was previously known as the Bay dance club and was located in the Keith O'Brien Building in Sugar House.
When looking for an alternate location for the Bay, Sweeten, 38, and Blackhurst, 36, considered Irving Junior High and Captain Nemo's club, among others. The partners also considered constructing their own building but decided on the Eagles Building and are pleased with their decision.
"There's just a lot more excitement being downtown," said Blackhurst. "We get a lot more tourists who seem to be in a better mood than our previous crowds, and we don't have problems with transients like we thought we would."
The building, which was designed by architect Nils Edward Liljenberg, is on the National List of Historic Sites due to its Renaissance Revival style of architecture marked by horizontal belts separating the three stories, arched openings and windows, a large staircase and Egyptian-style pillars.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles club, a non-sectarian club for men, built the building in 1915-16. The club occupied it until the Depression in 1937, and the building was leased to the American Legion three years later. Equitable Insurance occupied it from 1950 until about 1985. The building was empty until Sweeten and Blackhurst purchased it in February 1990 and began extensive renovation.
According to Sweeten, the building was in shambles before he and Blackhurst began renovation. "When I first saw the building, it was trashed. Transients had lived in here for about five years. Upstairs was just a huge aviary, and there were about 2 inches of bird droppings all over the floor," he said.
The owners spent approximately one year and a half-million dollars renovating the rotting building. The basement of the building, the site of boxing matches during its occupancy by the Eagles, was remodeled into a modern-music dance hall. The rooms on the middle floor, once used for meetings, card games and dining, now contain a non-alcoholic bar and lounge with fish tanks and big-screen televisions. The two-story upstairs is the Bay's main dance floor with a balcony running along the east and south walls overlooking the dance floor.
Extensive earthquake proofing was done to bring the building up to code. Salt Lake City's Redevelopment Agency also helped with costs of the sidewalk, curb and gutter.
The exterior of the building is the only thing controlled by the Historical Society, Sweeten explained.
San Francisco artist Butch Kardun drew up "paint-by-the-numbers" plans for the intricate detailed curves and cylinders carved on the exterior of the building, which were painted forest green, maroon and mauve.
Facts about the bay
Size: Three stories
Historical significance: Renaissance Revival style architecture mixed with the typical 20th century commercial style.
Designed by: Nils Edward Liljenberg
Primary use: Social club and dance hall
Source: Utah Historical Society