Sunday, March 11, 2012

COPPERTON LAST COMPANY TOWN by W. DEE HALVERSON

COPPERTON:  THE LAST COMPANY TOWN
by W. Dee Halverson
W. Dee Halverson
Every morning when I walk over to this clubhouse, I feel like an English squire at home in his exercise room.  I’m reminded of my days attending the University of York in England while studying history and gaining an appreciation of architectural heritage in a Yorkshire country-manor designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The designers of Garden Park Village in Daybreak, too were inspired by Sir Edwin’s magnificent English Romantic architectural style.  JUST LOOK AT IT!!

High-vaulted ceilings, hammer-beam trusses, Victorian draperies, dormer windows, solid wood window surrounds and stately chandeliers in this Great Hall, curved bay-window conservatory w/fireplace, gentlemen’s billiard room and library.  Notice the French Gobelin tapestry hanging in foyer and solid teak wood furniture outside in the courtyard.  Cleverly disguised pool/hot tub mechanical equipment hidden away in a dormer-peaked carriage house.  WHAT AN ARCHITECTURAL JEWEL!!

After moving into Garden Park Village last year, I became interested in how it was conceived.  I called Eric Osth, a principal architect of the Urban Design Associates in Pittsburg, PA who explained it to me this way:
Senior Center
“Our Garden Park Village in Daybreak was envisioned as a compact, transit-oriented community surrounded by greenbelts of natural landscape.  It contains all the pieces of a town, integrating residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural use.  Its architectural styles were diverse and inspired by expressive, picturesque and romantic designs (i.e., Arts/Crafts, Bungalow and English Romantic) which are appropriate for these natural settings.”
            When I was puzzled with the names of the streets and lanes in Garden Park, I called Cameron Jackson at Kennecott Land Company told me in an interview:  “I was in charge of naming all the streets in Daybreak.  In the case of Garden Park Village we wanted to weave the Garden theme throughout the neighborhood.  Since most of the common fruits and vegetables were already taken as street names in Salt Lake County, we thought it would be fun to choose ones that were a little more obscure, so we found some gardening websites online and did our research that way.”  I’ve compiled a list of these unusual names and meanings. My favorites are. . . .

NOW TO THE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS & THEIR ORIGINS
            Any idea where these homes are located?  They were photographed in Copperton, Garden Park Village and East Lake Village areas of Daybreak.  Do you notice any similarities?
Copperton
            Yes, in general they all belong to the Arts & Crafts architectural style that was prominent in the United States and Great Britain from 1875 to 1935.  Specifically they represent classic examples of the American Craftsmen, Bungalow, English Tudor and Spanish Revival styles.  All of these styles feature wide eaves, exposed rafter tails and an emphasis on natural materials, like stucco, brick and cobble stones.  Characteristically the homes of this style featured large covered porches, broad chimneys and knee-brace support trusses under their wide eaves. 
These architectural styles were also in step with the large-scale shift in the American standard of living.  As cities thrived, life on the farm gave way to life in the suburbs.  The idea of homeownership became the American Dream, and the Craftsman dream was to build these homes and furnish them with simple but beautiful interiors.  The influence of the American Arts and Crafts Movement cannot be overlooked.  Its idealism, beauty and simplicity have a ring of truth that is as inspiring today as it was 100 years ago.  That is why they are still very pleasing to the eye.
           
Copperton Elementary  5th and 6th grade 1940-1941
COPPERTON:  A COMPANY TOWN
            Copperton, Utah lies 25 miles southwest of Salt Lake City and just 8 miles from this Garden Park Village clubhouse.  It sits at the mouth of Bingham Canyon and has a population of 826.  Its 86-year-old history makes for quite a story.
            It was constructed between 1926 and 1946 as a company town for the management employees of the Utah Copper Company.  The new community was built as a much needed residential annex to the early mining towns and settlements further up in Bingham Canyon.  Eighteen houses were built in Copperton in 1926, 30 in 1927 and so on until by 1941 a total of 217 houses had been built and were then being rented to the company’s employees.
By the end of World War II in 1947 the Utah Copper Company had been acquired by the Kennecott Copper Corporation.  In 1956 that company decided to get out of the housing business altogether.  That year all the homes in Copperton were sold to private individuals.  Kennecott continued its mining operation, however, expanding the huge open pit mine until Bingham Town and the 15 other small settlements in the canyon were swallowed up.  Copperton is the only remaining community located near and closely associated with the Bingham Copper Mine.    
Today Copperton appears much as it did during its first few decades.  None of the houses have been torn down and only a few have been significantly altered.  In 1986 the entire town was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
Early Copperton with Bigham ditch and old railroad

Utah Copper Company chose the Copperton site for its planned community for several reasons:  the property was already owned by the company, the parcel of land was relatively flat and large enough to accommodate the size of community needed; and the site was close to the mine.  Salt Lake City architects Carl Scott and George Welsh were hired by UCC to design the overall layout of the town as well as to provide blueprints for the individual houses.  Their plan for the subdivision included amenities such as a fully-landscaped 8-acre park, concrete curb, gutter, and sidewalks, shade trees, graded and graveled streets and a baseball park.
            Scott & Welch, who had designed such famous buildings as the Masonic Temple, Elks’ Building and South High School in Salt Lake City, created over 85 design variations for the Copperton houses.  This variety was intended to avoid the repetitive streetscapes that typified most company towns.  The builders for the homes were E.J. Teague & Company and F.B. Bowers.

Eugene Halverson   Keith Webb   Lowell Jensen
The Copperton homes, with few exceptions, are all one-story with brick or stucco exteriors.  Stylistically all of the houses in the district are Bungalows, English Tudor and Spanish Revival styles.

There was only one basic floor plan:  a rectangular form with its narrow end facing the street.  It was divided lengthwise by a central wall with living room, dining room, kitchen on one side—and bedrooms and bathroom on the other. 
The downstairs included a laundry room, furnace room, small bedroom and a coal-storage room.

Copperton
The majority of the houses were either 4- or 5-rooms designs which cost about $5,500 to build in the 1920s and which were rented to the UCC management for about $25.00 per month.

In addition there were four pre-fabricated copper-clad houses built between 1936 and 1938.  These “experimental houses” featured horizontal, solid copper siding, roofing, plumbing, screens, storm doors and fixtures.  When the first “all copper” homes was completed in 1937, there was a huge wave of publicity.  During the week-long open house over 2500 people toured the home, which was touted at Utah’s first prefabricated house.  The local newspaper gave the following description:                                                      

LDS Church  Copperton
“Visitors were particularly impressed with the economy of the arrangement of rooms in the house and characterized it as the ‘biggest little house’ ever planned.  Another feature that will help to sell copper houses is that a house like the one on display at Copperton is everlasting.  Roof, gutter, downspouts, window frames and screens, radiators and piping are all of copper and the framework of steel beams makes the house termite proof.”  Bingham Bulletin, June 1937

The current owner of this experimental house, Scott Adair, informed me that his home wasn’t everlasting and has required extensive replacement / remodeling.

At that time, Copperton received very favorable coverage in national newspaper and mining journals as a model company town.  The hospitable environment of the community was viewed as a benefit to both worker and employer.  It was noted that the town would focus on the family-life: “There will be no room for the floater, the pool hall hustler or the bootlegger.”

As the town grew schools and churches were established and a number of stores as well.  The Copperton Elementary was constructed in 1929 and the Bingham High School was built in 1931.  The LDS meetinghouse was completed in 1942 as the first church in Copperton.  The Methodist Church building was moved from its original location at the Kearns U.S. Army Camp to Copperton in 1948 and the Catholic Parish Church was constructed and dedicated in 1949.   

Winter
Because of the reasonable rent and the quality of the accommodations, the Copperton houses were very much in demand.  Since there were many more employees than there were houses, priorities were established for allotting them.  First choice was given to the head company officials; the superintendent automatically had his own house.  The first eighteen houses built in 1926 were all initially occupied by mid- or upper-level management personnel.  Only married workers could qualify to live in the town, and those were rated according to their seniority, department, date of application, and their record of taking care of company property.  The mine superintendent took those factors into consideration and made the final decision on who would live in the houses.  His personal feelings toward an employee would often determine whether or not that person was given a house.  If a worker retired or quit the company he was no longer eligible for a home in the town and had to move out.  Widows, too, were not allowed to remain in their Copperton homes after the deaths of their mine-worker husbands.
Catholic Church  Copperton

The Utah Copper Company was particularly devoted to maintaining high standards in the appearance of the community.  The houses were kept in good condition by regular cleaning, painting and repairs.  Maintenance of each yard was the responsibility of the occupant, but the superintendent personally inspected the properties to insure that the standards were kept.  Louis Buchman, the superintendent from 1930 to 1946, was notorious for his habit of driving slowly through the town each morning to inspect the homes and yards.  Any irregularities that he spotted were sure to be brought to the attention of the occupant, and in at least one instance he was known to have dispatched a company employee to mow overgrown lawns and to charge the occupants the cost of mowing.

MY RESEARCH TURNED UP THE FOLLOWING DETAILED DESCRIPTION:
Copperton Park     Dee johansen
            The Superintendent’s House is historically significant as the home of the head administrators of the Bingham Copper Mine for almost 30 years.  In keeping with the stature of the position, the house was the largest, the most distinctive and the most expensive residence in Copperton.  The total cost of this 5,200 square-foot mansion in 1926 was $19,000 or $240,000 of today’s dollars.
            It is a one-story Craftsman-style house with Spanish Revival influences.  It has a classic low-pitch roof with overhanging eaves, the façade features a gabled entrance.  The front doorway has an arched head and is framed by brick quoins.  The house has exposed rafters, long bands of single-hung windows, dark wood trim and built-in furniture.
            Also inside the house were solid oak and maple floors, cherry-stained pine wood trim and built-in china cabinets.  The front room is paneled with dark walnut up to six feet, topped by a plate rail that encircles the entire room.  The ceilings throughout are nine feet high and coved.  The solid walnut wainscoting blends in perfectly with the 8-foot-long built-in walnut hutch.  The house featured a wood-paneled library, billiard room and large bar room with a curving 12-foot-long saloon bar and copper foot rail which were taken from an old saloon in Bingham Town
Jerry & Linda McCalmon, owners since 1990, have maintained it all perfectly!
MY FIRST INTRODUCTION TO THE OQUIRRH MOUNTAINS & COPPERTON

Methodist Church
            My own personal fascination with this Oquirrh Mountain area began forty years ago in 1971 when I spent the summer before entering graduate school at BYU trying to sell 5-acre parcels of land in the Hi-Country Estates development near Herriman for my father-in-law Dr. Gerald Bagley.  I wasn’t very good at it and was still determined to become an historian.  I did enjoy exploring Rose Canyon and talking with old-timers like Jess Dansie, Clete Hamilton and Tony Mascaro.  I also liked driving over Butterfield Canyon to visit the old mining towns of Mercur and Ophir.  In May 1972 just before I was scheduled for ROTC camp at Ft. Lewis, Marty, who was about 9 months pregnant, and I decided to drive over that rough Buttterfield Canyon road to try to speed up her delivery date—Baby Josh took his own time and wasn’t born for weeks!

            A few years and a few children later, I became a full-time real estate developer with a residential subdivision and manager of the West Jordan Industrial Park after successfully selling the Interstate Brick Company their new location on the Old Bingham Highway in 1975. 
I was working at the industrial park one day when a long parade of vintage automobiles drove past heading toward the Kennecott mine early one morning.  I grabbed my camera and joined them.  They first stopped at the visitors’ center where I took tons of photographs of these old cars from every angle possible.  Their next stop was the Utah Copper Company community park in the center of Copperton.  As I drove into the town I was overwhelmed.  It was as if I had stepped out of a time-machine set at 1926.  The combination of the vintage models of Ford, LaSalle, Dusenburg, and even a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud parked in front of these classic houses of the Arts & Crafts style was an historian’s dream come true. 
Copperton Park entrance
            That day, Copperton seemed to me just like Brigadoon the village in the Scottish Highlands which mystically appeared every 100 years.  Copperton was like a vision to me.  It renewed my interest and enthusiasm for history and became a retreat anytime I needed to soak in the past.

 Since moving to Daybreak last year I have become reacquainted with Copperton and some of its long-term citizens.

LIKE: Dorothy Peterson (82 years old)   “I’ve lived here on Cyprus Street in Copperton for over 50 years.  My husband and I first lived in the school apartments because we both taught school here.  When Kennecott started selling these homes in 1956, Jim’s uncle bought the home they lived in and then we bought it from them.  When Jim came home and told me were we buying Aunt Hazel’s home, I said, ‘But its way too small.’  ‘That’s OK,’ he replied.  ‘The price of $8,000 is just too good to pass up, so we’re buying it.’ We raised our family of 5 children in its 2,000 square feet and have loved it more and more over the years.
            “Even though there are three different churches (LDS, Methodist and Catholic) in town, we consider ourselves Coppertonians first and then our religious denomination next.  For several years we have a progressive dinner in each of the churches.  We might start with soup and salad in the Mormon church, then the main dish at the Methodist church and finally end with desert in the Catholic church.  Then each year we would rotate.
            “A couple of years ago when the LDS Church headquarters decided to close down the Copperton Ward and move our meetings to West Jordan.  The entire town sent letters and emails to Salt Lake City and even posted signs protesting the move.  The Methodists and Catholics joined with us in an effort to keep the Copperton LDS Ward alive.  It worked!”
           
Last Sunday I visited all three Copperton churches!  Each of them welcomed me warmly and invited me to stay for their meetings.
I asked Bishop James Oldham of Copperton LDS Ward, Pastor Carol Loftin of St. Paul’s Methodist Church and Father Dennis Ruane of the Catholic Parish if there was still an ecumenical feeling between the three congregations in Copperton, today.  They all agreed that it still exists as strong as ever.
Copperton  Boy Scouts
            Pastor Loftin told me that “I never thought that I would be writing to LDS President Thomas S. Monson fervently petitioning to keep the LDS Ward in Copperton open and active—but I did!”  Father Dennis of the local parish told me that his congregation very much enjoyed their friendly relationship with both the LDS Ward and St. Paul’s and said, “We look forward each year to our progressive dinner and social.”
Dorothy Peterson also told me, “When the Daybreak development started, they held a big event here in Copperton with displays and house plans to show how everything would fit together.  I said to one of the presenters, I hope you’re giving everyone their own driveway.  He asked if that was a problem, because they had wanted Daybreak to be just like Copperton.  Then I told him of some pretty serious fights and squabbles over the single driveways leading to the double garages here.”    

Bingham High School
I ALSO INTERVIEWED Gordon Bodily, now 85   “I’ve lived in Copperton now for 60 years.  As an early employee of Kennecott Copper, I lucked out by getting one of these homes—I qualified immediately after marrying Superintendent Barlow’s daughter, Jackie.  We enjoyed the quality of the maintenance of these rental homes.  Every five years they completely repainted or wall-papered every room in the house.  The company kept each property in tiptop shape with timely repairs and replacements.  They also provided full-time gardeners for the community park—which was always a source of pride.
            When it became possible for us to purchase these homes, we all jumped at the chance.  For many years Copperton was very stable, nobody wanted to move out.  Gradually, my generation died out making way for younger families with children to move in.  That keeps the spirit and activities alive and well today.
            My wife and I raised our eight children here in this house.  We loved the closeness of everyone in town.  Copperton was a place where everybody looked after and cared for each another.”  

Copperton house
To our great delight, Marty and I have discovered right here in the Garden Park Village and Daybreak the same kind of friendship and community spirit that has always existed in Copperton.
1926 Was also the year of the deadly avalance at Highland Boy where Dr. Richards and his hospital performed a medical miracle

            Born in 1892 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Paul Snelgrove Richards was the grandson of Dr. Willard Richards, an early leader in the LDS Church.  Paul received a medical degree from Harvard University and served most of his professional life as a physician to the copper miners and their families in Bingham Canyon.
Working for the mining companies, he was impressed by the diversity of nationalities among his patients; immigrants from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Finland, Japan, and the Slavic countries of eastern and southern Europe were among the many ethic groups.  Dr. Richards’ medical practice included many emergency surgeries to treat injuries from falls, blasting, fires, floods, snowslides and cave-ins.  The dangers extended from the mines into town because of the nature of the narrow canyon into which the settlements in Bingham Canyon were wedged. 
Miners Club  1947  1948
In February 1926 a blizzard commenced and it snowed continuously for three days.  The storm left several feet of soft snow on preexisting snow pack.  In places on the mountainsides above Highland Boy the snow was 25 feet deep. Then the weather turned warm, and shortly after 9 a.m. on February 17 an avalanche of snow, mud, rocks and timber hurled down Sap Gulch and crushed the miner’s boardinghouse and buried other residences. Fires among the debris further added to the danger.  In all, the disaster killed 31 men, women and children in Highland Boy outright and buried over 150 others.
            Many of the victims removed from the snow hours later were frozen into immobility yet had faint, slow heartbeats.  When the victims were brought to the hospital, the doctor instructed that they be placed in a cold room, where towels were used to wipe away the snow.  Dr. Richards then instructed volunteers to gently massage the entire body of each victim, using the warmth of their hands to gradually melt away the frost.  At times, sixty to eighty people were working over the frozen bodies.  All of the victims who had a discernable heartbeat, even as slow as eight beats per minute, were gradually revived.
Bingham High School
            A little five-year-old girl was brought in, apparently dead.  Dr. Richards took over the treatment of hot-packing the entire body.  The attending nurse just handed him what he needed.  The doctor’s lips were moving but no sound was heard.  After a time the child moved her head slightly, and the little grey-colored hands became pale, then there was a sigh.  She opened her eyes slowly, smiled a little and whispered, “Hi, doc.  I’m cold.”   LONG PAUSE

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS?

NEXT LECTURE ON APRIL 14TH: “BARS, BROTHELS & BROTHERHOOD”


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