Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Houses

Utah, as most people know, was settled by Mormon pioneers. One of the reasons the Salt Lake Valley, on the eastern edge of the Great Basin, was selected by Brigham Young was its isolation from the rest of the United States. In fact, when the pioneers arrived in the valley, Utah was still technically a part of Mexico.

Being so isolated, far away from the eastern United States and the "civilization" many of the pioneers were used to, often makes people wonder what life was like out here in the 19th century. There are two wonderful, contrasting examples of homes that the pioneers lived in, right in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City.

The first home is a typical log cabin, built from trees cut in the nearby canyons. The cabin was home to the William Henry Deuel family for less than two years after they arrived in the valley. It is one of only two original structures from that period that remain intact. It has been fully restored and is preserved with pioneer artifacts inside to show what life would have been like for a typical family in the early days in the Salt Lake Valley. During the summer, there is often a volunteer at the cabin, dressed in period clothing explaining what daily life was like for the pioneers.

The other home is The Beehive House, the residence of Brigham Young. Built in 1854, seven years after the arrival of the pioneers, it is an amazing example of what could be done by people living so far away from "civilization." The building was designed by Truman O. Angell who also designed the Salt Lake Temple. This was a large house, built with many rooms, including the playroom, the gracious sitting room, the fairy castle, and the family store.

There is a FREE 30-minute tour available of the Beehive House which has many of the original pieces of furniture, stoves, and even clothing on display, much the way it was in the 1850's. The tour guides point out things that are interesting to both children and adults. My first tour of the Beehive House was when I was about 7 years old and I found it fascinating. I've gone back numerous times since, both as a child and as an adult.

The Deuel Cabin and the Beehive House are within two blocks of each other; an easy walking distance, and in the blocks between is the Temple Square complex, with beautiful gardens and more historic buildings.

Places: The Deuel Cabin and The Beehive House
Location: 50 North West Temple and 67 East South Temple (respectively), Salt Lake City
Phone: 801.240.2671
Hours: The Deuel Cabin, dawn to dusk; The Beehive House, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 0 miles
Ogden: 37 miles
Provo: 44.7 miles
Logan: 81.7 miles

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