You know the place. It’s the most ornate home in town, complete with onion dome and lots of gingerbread, an architect’s fantasy, almost. Someone said “I’m going to do this one right,” and did.
Over the last couple of months the place has slowly taken on a host of lovely colors — blues and greens and rust reds and burnished golds. A network of steel scaffolding surrounds it and, today, there was a guy in blue athletic shorts standing on one, carefully daubing the woodwork.
That’s Mylon Lauritzen, who bought the house a year ago. It is his dream house forever, he said, and he’s trying his best to restore it to its former glory.
Mylon said he’s lived in Utah most of his life, as has his wife. A few years back he started eyeing this place as one he’d want to live in, and a year ago things worked out.
It’s a very cool house. The plaque listing it as a Ogden City Historic Place says it was built in 1890 by Andrew J. Warner, a former member of the Ogden City Council as well as cashier and clerk at the Reed Hotel, which used to be down on 25th Street across from Union Station. The plaque says it is a superb example of the Queen Ann style of architecture, the best remaining in Ogden.
In addition to living in the house, Mylon is hoping to dig up as much of its history as he can. One of his big frustrations is just trying to find a picture of the original owner. Warner was on the city council, was a bigwig around Ogden and hung out with members of the Eccles family. Surely someone pointed their Kodak at him said “Hey Andy, SMILE!”
Musta been camera shy. When I got down to Union Station I dug through our archives and came up empty. I must note that our archives are not all that big, however, but Mylon said he also checked with Weber State’s Special Collections library.
We do have one sheet of blueprints from a restoration done in 1977 by Ronald D. Hales, who was preparing the house to use as an office for his architects business. Mylon said the Hales family got hold of him after he bought the house and gave him files and pictures Hales took at the time.
Mylon said that, like most old mansions from Ogden’s boom days, this one fell on hard times. At one time it was broken up into apartments.
Thankfully, nothing worse happened to it. The Jefferson neighborhood mansions are a good example of how far down some of those places can sink. One had as many as 20 apartments in it. Even as big as those homes were, they must have been very small apartments, little more than efficiencies, usually the last step before a fire or the wrecking ball.
Fortunately, Ogden is working to keep that from happening. The Jefferson district is lovely.
I didn’t ask Mylon if he got city help to do his house. Either way, he’s the guy on the scaffold in the hot sun, working to make downtown Ogden a better place, the same as the many volunteers at Union Station and all the nice folks opening their own businesses on 25th Street and areas nearby.
That’s how we do things around here. Bit by bit, building by building, we’re rebuilding our city ourselves. I think that’s just cool.
Next up: Ogden, trunk murder destination, or “You shipped us what?”