The Eagle Emporium building at 102 South Main Street has quite a complicated little history. And with that history comes a plethora of contradictory information to go along with it. So in an attempt to sort through it all, I have listed as good a summary as I could muster on this building, with supporting data presented below in chronological order.
Previously on the site:
1857 Butcher shop built for $1000 by William Jennings (History of Salt Lake City, pg 78)
1861 The Octagon House (tanning business) by William Jennings
Summary History of Building:
1864 Two-story Eagle Emporium built (William Jennings owner, William Paul architect); Store opened on Thursday 04 Aug 1864
1868 Name changed to ZCMI after Jennings buys into co-op with Brigham Young
1873 Clock erected according to Utah Heritage Foundation (1878 according to Utah State Hist Society)
1876 ZCMI moves to new location, name changed back to Eagle Emporium
1885 Two-story addition constructed, creating a four-story building
1890 Building function changed to house a bank, becoming the Utah National Bank with some accompanying construction work done on building
1912 Renamed to Utah State National Bank with Joseph F Smith as president – absorbing State Bank of Utah, Utah Comm. & Savings, and Utah National Bank
1916 Extensive renovation of interior and exterior of building
1949 Renamed to Utah First National Bank
1956 Renamed to First National Bank of Salt Lake City with building still named Utah First National Bank Building
1958 Renamed to Zions First National Bank with building still named Utah First National Bank Building
1962 Building name changed to Zions First National Bank
1982 Extensive remodel of interior and exterior, including the removal of the top two floors
Built in 1864, the Eagle Emporium Building is the oldest existing commercial building in downtown Salt Lake City. William Jennings, Utah’s first millionaire, constructed the building to house his mercantile business. It is the city’s only remaining commercial structure built prior to the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The Eagle Emporium Building is also notable as the first home of ZCMI. At the request of Brigham Young, Jennings exchanged his emporium’s inventory for stock in the new ZCMI in 1868. He also leased this building to the cooperative. The building’s long banking history began in 1890 when Utah National Bank occupied the building. The bank covered the building’s original red sandstone facade with a veneer of terra-cotta in 1916. The ornate clock in front of this building is one of the few remaining pieces of 19th-century street furniture in Salt Lake City’s downtown. The clock was erected on this site in 1873 and was first powered by a water wheel. (Utah Heritage Foundation walking tour)
In the year 1864, on the 7th of February, Elias Morris and his men commenced work on the Eagle Emporium; in June he commenced Wm. S. Godbe’s Exchange Buildings, and in July Ransohoff’s store, south of Jennings’. It was at this date that Main Street began to assume fully the imposing appearance of a merchant street. (History of Salt Lake City, pg 153)
Drawing taken from a 26 May 1875 Deseret News advertisement
We had the pleasure of visiting the newly erected, substantially built and well finished store of brother William Jennings, on the day of opening – Thursday last, and were much pleased with the design, good workmanship and ornamentation of the structure. The plate glass windows and doors, the winding staircase, the pretty looking cedar topped counters with their brilliant French polish, the large mirror at the west end, with the gilded timepiece immediately above it, and between the two cut plate glass doors, one of which opens into the office and the other into the weighing or receiving room, the side mirrors which encase fancy goods and ladies’ notions in narrow perpendicular cupboards, together with the office, show room up stairs, and the capacious cellar amply supplied with the comforts and luxuries of life, are unmistakable indications of the energy, enterprize and taste of the proprietor. – The Eagle in front, in our opinion, is much too small for the space allotted to him. Brother Jennings is an old citizen; he has grown with the growth of our own people, and has done much towards improving our city, and we cordially wish success to the Eagle Emporium. (10 Aug 1864 Des News)
Mr. Jennings was a lover of home magnificence. To his examples Salt Lake City owes greatly its fine solid appearance of to-day. With his Eagle Emporium he commenced the colossal improvements on Main Street, in which he was followed by William S. Godbe and the Walker Brothers…In 1864 he built the Eagle Emporium, a large and substantial stone building, in which he done a business amounting to $2,000,000 per annum, – thus making himself the leading merchant of the western country. (History of Salt Lake City, pg 78-79)
Autobiographical sketch of Bishop Elias Morris after his death confirms: I returned to Salt Lake City and commenced contracting in the year 1864; put up the Eagle Emporium for Mr. Jennings and the drug store for Mr. Godbe. (26 Mar 1898 The Deseret Weekly)
01 Mar 1869 – Zions Wholesale Co-operative Commercial Institution commenced business in the Eagle Emporium. (In 05 Jan 1870 Des News)
On March 1, 1869, the first wholesale store was opened in Jennings’ Eagle Emporium, on the corner of First South and Main Streets. Brigham Young, himself, gave the first order, for $1000 worth of goods. (10 Oct 1948 Des News)
The celebration yesterday of the completion of the Pacific Railroad came off in this city, yesterday. The principal business places, stores and manufactories were closed, and work suspended for the rest of the day. In the evening the business portions of the city were beautifully illuminated; the City hall, Theatre, Eagle Emporium, Exchange Buildings and Wells Fargo & Co’s office being the most brilliant. (11 May 1869 Des News)
Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) from Utah State Historical Society – undated, but taken between 1869 and 1876
Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) from Utah State Historical Society – undated, but taken between 1869 and 1876
Co-op, Eagle Emporium
The new building being erected by Mr. Jennings at the west side of the Eagle Emporium has now progressed sufficiently to remove the roof timbers. This building when complete will make the corner building look quite insignificant; the only remedy left is, to not only raise said building to a corresponding height, but also to remodel the whole structure both on its north and east sides. The adjoining building is very substantial in its timbering, being erected under the personal supervision of Messrs. Kendall and Romney, subcontractors under Folsom and Romney. (3 Sep 1872 Salt Lake Tribune)
A number of changes in the arrangement of the several departments of Z.C.M.I. so far as location is concerned, are contemplated by Superintendent Clawson, as soon as the fine structure immediately adjoining the old Eagle Emporium building is finished. We understand the retail dry goods branch will be conducted, as heretofore, in the eastern part of the buildings, while the wholesale department of that branch will occupy the upper part. The front and central portion of the structure now in course of completion will be partitioned off as an office, and a magnificent office it will be. The partitions, most of the upper portion of which will be of glass, are being constructed by Mr. William Paul, architect and builder. The office will be lighted from the front by means of several very large plate glass windows. Between the old Emporium building and the office will be erected the grand staircase which will lead to the upper part of the building. The shoe department will also be in the same division and immediately west of the office, while the premises of the clothing department will be extended back and in addition to the present location will occupy the rear portion of the new building. The Grocery department will be transferred from the Old Constitution Buildings to the western division of the new Emporium Buildings, and we understand the Old Constitution premises will be used for the conducting of the machinery, wagon and agricultural implement business.
Doubtless the changes will be beneficial to the interests of Z.C.M.I., the business of which keeps continually increasing, demanding, as a matter of course, an extension of premises, and the concentrating of nearly all the departments in one range of buildings will greatly add to the facility with which business can be transacted. (13 Nov 1872 – Des News)
A Decision in the Co-op Property Case
We presume all our readers are familiar with the fact that what is known as Mr. Jennings’ property, on which the Eagle Emporium (now Co-op buildings) stand, has for some months past been contested in the Probate Court by the heirs of Mr. Cain, who first settled the land in question. The disputed property takes in more than what the Co-operative buildings stand on, running as it does ten rods south on Main street and the same distance west on First South street. On Main street it takes in the Eagle Emporium, Co-op drug store, Mr. Callahan’s hardware store and the People’s Emporium clothing store, while on First South street it takes in the Eagle Emporium and the majority of the new wholesale buildings recently built by Mr. Jennings and occupied by Z.C.M.I. (14 Apr 1873 Salt Lake Tribune)
Zion’s First National Bank from Utah State Historical Society – undated. The name of the bank was not Zion’s until much later. This photo would have been taken prior to 1885 since only two stories are shown. And since the taller building to the west is completed, the photo would have been taken after 03 Sep 1872. So I would date the photo from 1873-1884 and title it Eagle Emporium.
About the meanest trick that has been perpetrated in Zion for many a day, was the stealing of that “Holiness to the Lord” sign in front of the Eagle Emporium. It was taken between two days, and the Lord will undoubtedly frown upon the perpetrator of this great crime, and make his life short and full of trouble. (29 May 1875 SL Trib)
The Eagle Emporium
This is one of the largest mercantile establishments in Salt Lake City or the entire Rocky Mountain region. We lately inspected the contents of its various departments, and as we passed from one of them to another, we were reminded of some of the large wholesale houses we have seen in eastern cities. In staple and fancy dry goods, including silks, laces, ribbons, &c. this house transacts a very extensive business, and its stock comprises a complete assortment of these goods. In its appropriate department is an immense stock of clothing, gents furnishings, boots and shoes, &c. The grocery department of the institution carries an immense stock which includes all lines of staple, fancy and family groceries. The hardware department includes a very large assortment of stoves, ranges, &c., well adapted to the wants and necessities of this country. The proprietors of this mammoth house, Messrs. Wm. Jennings and Sons, have succeeded in keeping an immense trade, and have made their house very popular among all classes of buyers. We commend our readers to their establishment as one in which can be found a vast collection of all lines of general merchandise at low prices. (10 Sep 1880 Logan Leader)
The Eagle Emporium
Our readers will notice in this issue, a new advertisement from Messrs. Jennings & Sons, proprietors of that mammoth mercantile establishment, the Eagle Emporium, Salt Lake City. Country merchants would do well to send to them for Christmas fruits, fancy dry goods, not obtainable elsewhere in Utah, and in short for any kind of general merchandise. This also is the place for holiday visitors to Salt Lake to make purchases. The Eagle Emporium comprises one of the largest, most varied and complete stocks of general merchandise to be found in the entire Rocky Mountain region. (17 Dec 1880 Logan Leader)
31 Dec 1880 New Year’s Eagle Emporium advertisement taken from the Logan Leader
The work of building up the Emporium corner has been commenced by the contractor, Mr. Elias Morris. It is the intention to make the corner building one story higher, which will raise it above the top of the buildings now on the west side. That recently occupied by T.W. Jennings, and Swaner Brothers’ store, will be replaced by new structures, and will both have handsome ornamental fronts. According to the plan, these improvements will, when completed, give to the corner an imposing appearance. The first and second stories of the Emporium building will be used by T.W. Jennings, in his business, and the third floor will be a large hall, for meetings, etc. The store next west is to be occupied by Jennings & Sons’ bank. (11 Mar 1885 Des News)
Utah State National Bank ca. 1885 from Utah State Historical Society. Either the name or date on this are wrong, since the bank wasn’t called the Utah State National Bank until 1912. If 1885 is the correct date, the two upper stories would have just been added.
24 Feb 1890 and 01 Mar 1890 Des News
Taylor, Romney & Armstrong were granted permission to pile building material in front of the Eagle Emporium, under the usual restrictions.
By 01 Sep 1890 in the Salt Lake Tribune, the building on the corner of Main and First South is listed as the Utah National Bank building
Sues the Bank on a Lease
Priscilla Paul Jennings has brought suit against the Utah National Bank to recover $600 alleged to be due as rent for the Eagle Emporium building. The suit is based upon a lease made on January 16, 1890, to Joseph M. Stoutt and Joseph F. Kaldenbaugh and assigned by them to the bank. The lease runs for a period of twelve years from May 1, 1890. It provides for the payment of $750 per month for the first five years, and for such sum per month during the second five years as the property should be worth for such period. (23 Jun 1895 SL Trib)
Priscilla Paul Jennings was the daughter of the Eagle Emporium architect, William Paul, and plural wife to Emporium building owner William Jennings. Jennings, who had been Salt Lake City mayor until 1885, had passed away in 1886.
In the suit of Priscilla Paul Jennings vs. the Utah National Bank, for rent for the Eagle Emporium block, the defendant filed an answer yesterday, in which it is claimed that a change in the stairway of the building in 1891 reduced the rental value of the third and fourth stories $125 per month. The defendant also contends that Thomas W. Jennings, the arbitrator appointed by Mrs. Jennings, under the provision of the lease of the building for the fixing of the rent for the remainder of the term, was prejudiced, being the stepson of the plaintiff, and therefore not qualified to act. (07 Jul 1895 SL Trib)
23 Aug 1916 Des News
Now doing business in our temporary location, 17 and 19 East First South Street.
Railroads Place Limit on Shipments of Freight
One of the largest concerns of the city now in the midst of building operations, is the Utah State National Bank. The iron and steel have arrived, but the terra cotta which comes from Denver is in process of shipment. Should the strike be prolonged, the operations at the bank would necessarily be delayed. (30 Aug 1916 Des News)
In a Deseret News bank ad on 06 Sep 1916, the Officers of Utah State National Bank are listed as Joseph F Smith President, Heber J Grant Vice President, Rodney T Badger Vice President. According to the large portraits lining the south wall in 2010 in the Zions Bank building, six presidents of the LDS Church have been President of this bank through its history.
New Home of Bank Nearing Completion
The terra cotta exterior walls of the Utah State National bank’s new home, at First South and Main street, have been completed, making a handsome and pretentious appearance, like polished stone. The vaults are all in position, the plastering is about complete, and the interior marble work and furnishing are being pushed. Vice President Rodney Badger said this noon that he expected the bank would locate in its new, permanent home May 1. Mr. Badger remarked that when the interior of the old structure was being torn out, the bank was widely criticised for not tearing down the whole thing, and beginning anew. But the salvage of the walls and skeleton structure of the old Jennings block saved the bank some $40,000 and the building to all appearances is entirely new. (28 Feb 1917 Des News)
Zion’s First National Bank from Utah State Historical Society – undated, but most likely taken between 1958-1962 since the building name remains Utah First National Bank, but the sign out front and the business inside is named Zions First National Bank.
Street Clocks To Be Removed
The concern of the City Commission with private use of city property brought about a decision Monday to remove two of the city’s ancient street clocks. Mayor Earl J. Glade said the commission voted to order the clocks removed because they are now obstructions and don’t run any more. He said the owners have moved away and are trying to sell the clocks to present tenants of the buildings behind them. The clocks are located on the west side of Main Street between South Temple and First South Streets and on the north side of Third South Street between Main and State Streets. The commission said another clock, in front of the Utah First National Bank on the southwest corner of Main and First South Streets, will be allowed to remain so long as it is properly maintained and keeps good time. (13 Dec 1950 Des News)
“I’ll meet you at the clock on the corner,” has been part of Salt Lake City conversation for nearly 100 years. The clock in reference is the pioneer clock on the southwest corner of First South and Main Street. The clock was brought to Utah about 1870 in an ox-drawn wagon. The cast iron clock, made by Robert Wood & Co of Philadelphia, is 18 feet tall. The clock was placed directly on the corner by Mayor William Jennings early in the 1870s.
The ‘old clock’ played a part in romance. Some young men wanted to play a joke on Arthur Pryor, a famous musician in Sousa’s Band, who had taken a fancy to charming Maude Russell. The young fellows sent a note to Arthur, “Meet me at the clock,” and signed it Maude. All aglow with eagerness, Arthur showed up and waited two hours while the jokers watched and snickered. Miss Russell found out about the prank and amid the explanations that followed a romance began and Mr. Pryor and Miss Russell were married.
The early clock works were driven by a water wheel, according to Joseph Bowd, retired employee of Zions bank. “A tunnel was dug under the building and a stream of water diverted from city creek canyon to drive the water wheel which in turn ran the clock works,” he said. Later the water power was replaced with a spring drive. “I can remember winding the springs, four large ones that ran the clock for five days,” Mr. Bowd said. “When the spring drive was abandoned for wet cell batteries it was my job to see that the clock didn’t run down as the batteries got old,” Mr. Bowd continued.
“About every six months I would call Charles Spahr at Western Union and he would come over and change the solution in the wet cells. He would come in at eight in the evening and work until after midnight. I had to stay right there because the cells were kept in the basement of the bank, down where the vault was,” Mr. Bowd explained.
By 1912 a master clock was installed in the bank and the ‘old clock’ was connected to the master works. “It may have been at this time that the original works were replaced by International Business Machine gears. For many years IBM serviced the works,” Mr. Bowd said.
The clock was moved a few feet from the corner spot about 1900when the new power poles were placed down Main Street. The clock cannot be moved again or it will be gone forever. City ordinances now prohibit the building of any structure on the sidewalk. In March 1969, the works of the clock were removed and modernized and repaired. The clock then received a new coat of antiqued green and gold paint.
The corner, popular as a gathering place for shoppers, theatergoers from the Salt Lake Theatre only a block away, and conference crowds, still remains a busy place. After 100 years the four-sided clock is a treasure of pioneer heritage. It has graced the corner of Jennings Emporium where ZCMI had its beginning, and which later became the Zions bank corner. (19 July 1969, Pioneer Clock Still Ticks, Church News)
OK expected on historic bank project
Salt Lake planning officials expect final approval Thursday on a plan to remove the top half of the historic Zions First National Bank, 102 S Main. The bank wants to cut off the top portion of the building because of structural problems with the roof but preserve the bottom half, which at one time was the Eagle Emporium and later ZCMI’s first location.
The city’s Historic Landmarks Committee Monday approved the idea, with committee members agreeing it is better to save the historic lower part than risk losing the entire building. Although it is visually a four-story structure, the building actually has only two floors. The bottom portion was built in 1863 in the style known as Romanesque. In the 1880’s the top half was added, and in 1916, the façade on the bottom was remodeled in the neoclassical style.
One committee member, Dr Henry Whiteside, abstained from voting because he believed the work would not restore the building to its original Romanesque style, but only cut a historic structure in half. The committee makes recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission which usually accepts the recommendations without further debate. Bank officials said a new highrise structure is planned for the area south of the bank. (16 Dec 1981 Des News)
10 Apr 1982 Des News
In the next block south, many changes are under way including the remodeling of the Zions First National Bank office at First South and Main…
Zions First National Bank reverts to its turn-of-the-century sparkle
Construction barriers have been removed around Zions First National Bank, 102 S. Main, as work progresses to restore the building to its turn-of-the-century condition. Robert Barnes, in charge of physical facilities for Zions, said the terra cotta work on the remaining two sides is being done by Gladding-McBean of California, the same firm that did the Hotel Utah.
Interior work is scheduled to be finished about Sept. 1. It includes restoring old brass teller cages and some work on additional customer services in the building’s basement, where safety deposit boxes are located. Some of the old brass had been painted, Barnes said. Metals Manufacturing of Salt Lake City is doing the metal work. At one time the historic building was the Eagle Emporium. Later it was the first location of ZCMI.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved cutting off the top two stories of the four-story building because of structural problems with the roof, agreeing that it was better to save the historic lower part than risk losing the entire building. Although it was visually a four-story structure, the building actually had only two floors. The bottom portion was built in 1863 in the style known as Romanesque. In the 1880’s, the top half was added, and in 1916, the facade on the bottom was remodeled in the neoclassical style.
Barnes said the building is being restored to a turn-of-the-century condition – when the terra cotta work was done – and not its original state when it was the Eagle Emporium. Barnes said the bank is still open for business, although some business is being done through the adjacent trailer bank in the parking lot.
ZCMI occupied the building until 1876 when it moved to its present location. The building housed a business college in the 1880’s. Since 1890, it has housed the Utah National Bank which, by 1957, through a series of mergers and name changes became Zions First National Bank. It was designed by English-born William Paul, who was also architect of the Devereaux House. (29 Jun 1982 Des News)
Interior of bank 2010; three of the six portraits shown lining the south wall portray the LDS Church presidents who also served as presidents of this bank through its history
Upstairs balcony level overlooking the main double-height space of the bank 2010
New ‘old’ look for historic S.L. landmark by George Ferguson
A nostalgic re-birth will take place Monday at the southwest corner of First South and Main Streets when Zion First National Bank re-opens its office. The nostalgia will center around the “grand old clock” which is back on that corner – where it was erected in 1870. Made in Philadelphia by Robert Wood & Co., tradition has it that the old clock was brought to the Salt Lake Valley by ox team and wagon.
The 18-foot ornate timepiece was first powered by a waterwheel. A tunnel (rediscovered in 1975 by Main Street beautification workers) was dug under the corner where Zions Bank now stands, and a stream of water was diverted from City Creek Canyon. The water drove the wheel which powered the clock.
Later the waterwheel was replaced with four large springs which were rewound about every five days. Eventually the springs were replaced with wet cell batteries. But if the old clock could talk, it would tell of past residents using it to meet streetcar timetables. No doubt it would tell, too, of it being used to set pocket watches in an earlier generation.
Zions Bank will celebrate its new look – or, rather, its new, old look – Monday through Friday, with open houses from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Light buffets will be served. After months of renovation work, the historic landmark has been restored inside and out to resemble its original 1874 appearance. At that time, it was known as the Eagle Emporium, a clothing and dry goods store built by entrepreneur William Jennings.
In 1868, the Emporium was leased to Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI). In 1870, the grand old clock was erected on a Victorian bronze and iron pedestal. Since that time, the corner has been dubbed the “Old Clock Corner.” In 1876, the building became the home of its first bank – Deseret National. Later its name was changed to Utah National Bank.
After the building was redesigned to its present appearance in 1912 by Don Carlos Young, the bank name was changed to Utah State National Bank. The upper two stories, added that year by Young, housed the YMCA and a business college. The big merger occurred in 1957 when Utah Savings and Trust Co., joined First National Bank of Salt Lake City and became Zions First National Bank.
For several years the building was headquarters for Zions First National Bank and now is a major branch of the bank. Jennings opened a butcher shop in the middle of First South near the Main Street intersection in 1857. In 1861, he and John Wilde erected the first structure on the southwest corner. It was named the Octagon House and it contained a tanning business. By 1864, Jennings had remodeled his original structure with the two-story Eagle Emporium. Outline of the Jennings store still is distinguishable. (29 Oct 1982 Des News)
National historic register lists Zions bank clock by Paula Smilanich
The clock in front of Zions First National Bank at First South has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Dr. Kent Powell, preservation research coordinator for the Utah State Historical Society, said the clock was included in the Salt Lake City Downtown Multiple Resource nomination.
Located on the southwest corner of First South and Main streets, the Victorian-style clock is one of the few remaining 19th Century street fixtures in the downtown area of Salt Lake City. The clock is believed to be about 100 years old, although no record exists of when it was first erected.
Tradition holds that the clock was brought to Salt Lake City in a wagon pulled by oxen and erected on its present site sometime in the 1870’s. The clock is not present in 1868 photographs of the First South corner but appears in an 1880 photo. The 20-foot clock has always been owned by Zions First National Bank, but its architect and builder are unknown.
According to Joseph Bowd, longtime Zions Bank employee who retired in 1958, the clock’s original works were driven by a water wheel powered by a diversion tunnel from City Creek. Later, the water wheel was replaced with a spring drive. Eventually, the spring drive was abandoned for a series of wet cell batteries that were maintained by Charles Spahr of Western Union. The batteries were kept in the basement of the bank near the vault.
Before 1912, a master clock system was installed in the bank and the old clock was connected to it. It was probably at this time that the cell batteries were replaced with International Business Machine gears. Now the internal workings of the clock are solid and little service is required. The clock was placed on the national register of historic places because the federal government recognized its significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. (15 Jun 1983 Des News)
Exterior column of building 2010
Bird’s-eye aerial of Zions First National Bank 2010 from Bing Maps. The building is now an island on the corner of the block, with all of the previously existing surrounding buildings removed.