In 2014, the team of CRSA and McCullough Engineering & Contracting began peeling away the walls of the Enos Wall Mansions. Yes, physically, but they also began a process of peeling back the layers of history on this 135 year old building, uncovering three intersecting lives and five intersecting clients.
You see, the Enos Wall Mansion isn’t the Enos Wall Mansion. Well it is, but it was first the Sharp House. And later it was a Jewish Community Center. Then it was the Pacific National Life Assurance Company, the LDS Business College, and now under the direction of the University of Utah, it is becoming the Center for Policy and Administration. The building has been and is, in many ways, defined by this diversity of clients.
The Wall Mansion is also the story of three men. The first is the property’s original owner and client: James Sharp– railroad man, University of Utah Chancellor, and sixth mayor of Salt Lake City. Sharp bought 411 Brigham Street (now South Temple) and constructed an Italianate Villa for his residence.
The next man was Enos Austin Wall, who purchased the property following Sharp’s death in 1904. Wall made his fortune with the Utah Copper Co (Now Kennecott–Utah Copper) in Bingham Canyon, and lived at the mansion with his wife until his death in 1920.
The third player is Richard Kletting, the German-born architect who Enos Wall hired to perform the remodel of the Sharp House. Kletting is of course best known as the architect of the Utah State Capitol but he left an indelible mark on the Wall Mansion as well. Kletting’s innovations included one of the first residential elevators, a central vacuum system, and a reinforced concrete system used to fire-proof the building. Along with removing wood construction he installed a water vat in the attic to pressurize a fire hose system throughout the house.
After eight years of vacancy, a new entity is stepping into the space. The University of Utah and the CRSA-McCullough team are reimagining a place at the crossroads of lives and faiths and history. The current project seeks to renovate and restore the house in ways sensitive to its early history. The Wall Mansion is largely emblematic of the whole South Temple Historic District. It speaks to a time past and the meaning and value in preserving that past. Because in uncovering this past, we can begin to create a context for building the future.