What began as an area for brickyards, lime kilns and slaughterhouses blossomed into one of Salt Lake City’s ritziest neighborhoods, and those who are willing to lace up their walking shoes will have a chance to take a closer look this weekend.
Preservation Utah is hosting its 52nd Annual Historic Homes Tour in Federal Heights on Saturday, offering attendees the chance to peek inside several homes in the neighborhood.
Historian Bim Oliver said the east-side neighborhood near the University of Utah highlights a diversity of architectural styles that reflect the development of Utah’s capital in the early 1900s.
“Those folks who go on the tour,” Oliver said, “will kind of get to see a good representation of: What did Salt Lake City look like for the well-to-do in the early 20th century?”
In the early years, Federal Heights was sort of an industrial park, but, by the late 1800s, Salt Lake City had grown to the point that the land became more valuable for homes.
What is now thought of as a single neighborhood was historically broken into upper and lower sections that were both developed in the early 1900s.
The Lower Heights were bounded by Virginia Street to the west, Perry Avenue to the north, the U. to the east, and 100 South to the south.
The Upper Heights — bounded by Virginia Street to the west, Popperton Park to the north, the U. to the east and 2nd Avenue to the south — will be the focus of most of Saturday’s tour.
Oliver said the nonprofit is hosting the tour, in part, to bring attention to an area of the city that is experiencing a loss of historic character due to frequent demolitions.
Early on, developers of both subdivisions created strict limits on what could be built in the neighborhood. By the late 1940s, however, those rules no longer applied.
Residents feared that, without protections, their neighborhood would give way to fraternity houses and apartments, so they petitioned the city to create a unified Federal Heights zoning district, which prohibits such uses.
That ordinance, however, does not bar demolitions.
Attendees of Saturday’s tour will have access to at least seven houses, including one owned by Amanda and AJ Secrist.
The home, built in 1921, features arched doorways, stained glass, original hardwood floors, and original solid wood doors that are so heavy, they occasionally fall off their hinges.
“We feel quite privileged to live in our house,” Amanda Secrist said. “It’s very beautiful, and it’s got some good history to it.”
Saturday’s tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Traditional nonmember tickets cost $30 in advance and feature seven homes. Online sales end Friday at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased Saturday for $40.
Donor tickets cost $100 and feature an additional two homes. Preservation Utah members will be able to buy tickets for $25.
Tickets must be picked up at the tour headquarters, 39 S. Wolcott St., between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.
For more information on the walking tour, visit preservationutah.org.