Brushing a little construction dust from their lapels, a few dozen Utahns got a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-open City-County Building during a Thursday afternoon tour led by Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis.
Calling the nearly century-old building "the best of what we've had in the past and all we can hope for in the future," DePaulis welcomed members of the Utah Heritage Foundation for an abbreviated tour of the building."We're going to simply tease you today by letting you see only part of the building," added Burtch Beall Jr. of the Heritage Foundation.
Only the second floor of the building was open for the tour, under contractor's orders, Beall said, explaining the second floor will house the office of the mayor and City Council.
After work crews removed signs reading "don't touch: keep your damn hands off," Heritage Foundation members and others invited milled about admiring the building, being restored for $30 million to its nearly original 1894 condition.
Crews were still working in the area and scaffolding still stands on the west side of the building. But DePaulis announced plans for an April grand opening of the building.
The ceremonies marking the re-opening of the building, under renovation since in 1986, will begin Friday, April 28, with a black-tie dinner dance and public tours Saturday and Sunday.
DePaulis highlighted a number of special touches to the celebration, including a rededication of a statue of a young boy and girl on the building's grounds.
When the statue was originally erected in 1936, local grade schools held a contest to select young models for the piece. One winner was former Utah Supreme Court Justice Frank D. Wilkins. Wilkins will return for the statue's rededication.
The city is also looking for other former grade-school children who joined in the original dedication ceremony for the statue by sealing their names and "aspirations" on paper inside a time capsule.
"We just want to have a reunion of all the kids from 1936," said mayoral executive assistant Phil Erickson.
Other events scheduled throughout the three-day grand opening include a cricket match on Washington Square.
The Deseret News, in an early editorial, complained of "disgusting language and horrible profanity" uttered by baseball players on the square, DePaulis said. Cricket replaced, at least temporarily, the Washington Square baseball games, DePaulis said.
DePaulis lauded the Heritage Foundation for its support of the City-County Building's renovation.
"When the chips were down and people were talking about tearing the building down, it was the Heritage Foundation which came in," DePaulis said.
Once the building is rededicated, DePaulis intends to offer tours of the building for tourists. "We want visitors who come to the city to come here for some history of the building," he said.
Those on tour initially gathered in what soon will be the City Council chambers - now with a bare floor and only a partially completed dais for the council - and then moved to the mayor's office for a reception.
DePaulis said that when the building was occupied by Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County, it was divided between the two. The county used the south portion, painted green, while the city held the north, painted red, Beall said.
Now, the mayor and his staff will occupy the south end of the building, while council members, who will be the first to move into the building when renovation is finished, will use the north end. The color scheme will be retained.