Jason Olson, Deseret News
The R. Spencer Hines Mansion in Provo is one of the eight sites that will be included in a walking tour of the city's most historic landmarks today and Friday.

PROVO — A little bit of lived-in history will be on display this week in center-city Provo.

The Provo City Landmarks Commission and America's Freedom Festival at Provo today and Friday will host the Historic Provo 2008 Walking Tour and reception.

The tour — in its 10th year — will feature eight homes located in the historic Franklin neighborhood, the area around 500 West between 100 South and 500 South in Provo.

"All of the homes kind of reflect a different period, for the most part, or a different style of architecture or an individual who's had some noteworthy accomplishment or something in the community," said Randy Christiansen, member of the Provo City Landmarks Commission and Historic Provo Tours event chairman for the Provo festival.

Foremost among the homes to be on display is the R. Spencer Hines Mansion, owned by John and Sandy Rowe, which now is a bed-and-breakfast business. The

home, built in 1895 by Russell S. and Kitty Hines, is believed to have been designed by Richard K.A. Kletting, the architect who designed the Utah State Capitol.

"It was built as a showplace, I guess," John Rowe said. "I don't know quite why (Hines) built such an opulent place. It was during the era of the early economy of Utah when things were both good and bad. And he was one of the guys that made well."

Rowe, who has owned the building since December 2002, said the building has been used as a dormitory, a restaurant and even a haunted house. And he says he's not sure if the rumored ghost stories of Kitty Hines are valid.

"We love being a part of the heritage of Provo and are glad the public is going to come in and see some of this," Rowe said. "There are very few of these fine buildings left ... there is a heritage associated with some of our old buildings that needs to be maintained."

The public is invited to attend tours of the homes given by homeowners.

Four of the homes will be available for tours tonight, and the other four will be available for tours Friday night.

Today's tours will begin at the Hines Mansion at 383 W. 100 South at 5:30 p.m.

Friday's tours also will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the home at 666 W. 300 South.

Those interested can pick up brochures giving historical information about the homes and shoe covers at those locations.

At the end of Friday's tours, the public is invited to attend a reception in room 309, the Bullock Room, of the Provo City Library at Academy Square.

Provo Mayor Lewis Billings will be on hand to present three preservation awards.

Author Douglas Thayer, who wrote the book, "Hooligan: A Mormon Boyhood" about his experiences growing up in the Franklin neighborhood during the Great Depression and World War II, will be the featured speaker at the reception.

After the presentations by Billings and Thayer, the public can view a photographic exhibit of the featured homes in the Library's Andersen Art Gallery, room 205.

Admission to the reception is free and refreshments will be served.


E-mail: jdavis@desnews.com