Thursday, December 10, 2009

Field Trip: SLC City and County Building

Tuesday: It was snowing...and I just can't handle staying inside when there is fresh snow on the ground.

Time for another field trip!

I reported to work at 11 am, and took lunch at 1, for an hour to go for a local site look-see.

The Salt Lake City and County Building has been on my "gotta see" list ever since the first time I visited SLC many years ago.

I mean...wouldn't you want to go snoop around this lovely old building on a snowy day too?

Especially with FOUR Christmas trees and huge wreaths festively festooning the entrance.

Don't the buildings built in the late 1800's have amazing detailing?

Wouldn't it have been fascinating to watch the tracery being carved into the sandstone?

The fact that the building was built long before power tools were created causes me to appreciate the work all the more.

Even the plate behind the doorhandles (which are pretty spiffy in their own right...) is elaborate as fine sterling silver tableware.

And how about these door hinges? Surely they were created by different artists in different times.

(The drawback of noodling around history sites without a tour guide is having unanswered questions like that one. Of course, I have been with lots of totally clueless tour guides maybe I really wasn't missing out on anything by being on my own. Maybe just reading up on the building will be better anyway...)

Inside the door: The floor is a stone quilt!

Other floors had tile patterns.

I had never seen a round radiator like this one before.

The marble behind it was pretty interesting too...actually it is onyx according to the history site. Onyx locally mined with fossils embedded here and there.

Overhead the ceiling was undulating. Why did they go to the extra expense of making each segment a curved piece with gilded edges? HOW did they make each segment curve like that anyway?

From the first floor entrance rose twin stair cases at each end of the building.

Being rather immature for a woman of my age, I giggled at the bathrooms labeled "Gentlemens Toilet" which faced identical doors marked "Ladies Toilet". So mannerly!

How did we get from that to the modern taciturn "Mens" and "Womens" signs?
Or worse, the signs with the odd little shapes, with a triangle under a circle representing a woman?

All the doors in the building were very tall. Just opening the Ladies door made me feel like there was going to be something quite remarkable inside.

There wasn't...

Oh well.

Up the stairs was a display about the 2002 Olympics that was held in SLC. The flags, signatures of all the American athletes, and random things.

Another wing was adorned with oil paintings of all the mayors of SLC, going back to 1860.

This semi-modern mayor's image gave me the creeps.

He also reminded me of one of the characters in movie "The Princess Bride".

I wondered why this mayor wanted his portrait to be with his thumb tucked into his waist band and his finger pointing to, er, well, let's just say both his hands are strangely poses.

Another wall of displays informed me of the fact that SLC has a "Sister City": Matsumoto City, Japan.
Funny how many cities that I have lived in have sister cities in little old Japan.

Matsumoto has sent us some really cool gifts!

I wonder what we sent them...and where they keep our gifts.

Oops...another mayor. How do you like the wild bell bottom pants on this guy? And check that mustache! Would you buy a used car from him?

(Actually he was mayor back in the 1970's...and I remember lot of men, including my dad, wearing similar attire during those years.)

I think I discovered a fact that would make for a great novel plot in the building:

At one point the building served as the State Senate Building.

Utah Senator Martha Hughes Cannon, a noted physician, was the first female state senator in our nation’s history. She served in the Utah Senate after defeating her husband, Angus, in the 1896 election. Room 335 of the building is named in her honor.

Martha must have been one heck of a gal run against her husband and win!

Wouldn't you love to know what that marriage was like behind closed doors?

Looking down the stairwells...I can really enjoy the tile patterns from here. It is just dumbfounding to me to know that in the 1980's they almost tore this building down! A cost study was performed and it was determined that restoring the building would cost about the same as tearing it down and building a new building.

It cost $892,534 to build the building in 1894; restoration cost $31,192,500 in 1989.

Well worth every penny I'd say!

A beautiful coved ceiling pattern overhead....

Even the inside walls of the elevator had intricate pattern work on metal.

I walked all the way up to Level 5, hoping that perhaps I could make it up into the Widow Walk tower. No such luck.

I did see the Mayor's office though. The lights were on and people were working. I suppose I could have just walked on in, but decided I just wasn't interested in accidentally meeting the man. Especially since I am not really sure what his name is anyway.

Seriously...what a beautiful but expensive detail! How did the tax payers of 1890 feel about all these expensive details?

I'm thinking it didn't bother them at all. They were proud of their building...but it would be an interesting research project to see if there were any protesting letters to the editor about it way back when.

Compared to the state capitol, the City and Country building was pretty simple. I was in and out of there in about a half hour, even with visiting all five floors.

I exited on the opposite side of where I came in...and was quite interested to see that the building has two equally ornate sides, one with the interior walls painted red on one end and the green on the other as means of designation for the "County" side and the "City" side of the building.

Don't you love the little face tucked up in the sand stone carving?

(Another little details that I want to know more about!)

As usual, I was behatted. As I was pounding up the stairs, I passed by a woman heading downstairs.
"I love your hat!" she called out as she passed me on the staircase.
Funny...I had forgotten I even was wearing a hat!

Out on the grounds are two matching fountains that were filled with snow. The water was turned off for the winter and the dense growths of summer were long gone. Back in the 1950's they TORE OUT THE FOUNTAINS!!! The fountains were considered too "old fashioned" at the time. Thank goodness they were able to restore them later.

It was lovely...and hard to imagine that just a few months before it had been surrounded by several layers of protesting polygamist! Yes, this was the park where all the FLDS men and women had gathered to protest a court case last summer. Back then it was hot and thick with people; now the grounds were cold and I was totally alone.

I made tracks through the freshly fallen snow...

And wondered what I would have needed to do to be able to go higher than level five, or into the clock tower.

(Maybe I should have tried a few more doors...rattled knobs until I found the secret passage way to the top! Maybe there would have been a mystery I could of solved with my friends Bess and George. Oh wait...that would be a Nancy Drew story...and I am pretty sure those stories didn't take place in Utah. Otherwise Nancy wouldn't have been an only child!)

How nicely snow adds to sculptural beauty!

Even something as simple as a slotted park bench becomes photogenic when snow is added to the austere lines.

SLC's motto is "The Greatest Snow On Earth!" Dry and powdery, I could send the snow in my glove into the air with a puff of breath; each snowflake was as light as a dandelion seed.

The shadows from the bare trees create veins and arteries that seem to glow from beneath the whitest of white skin.

Another charming statue: a school age boy and girl, with the boy pointing upward to the flag. The children of SLC raised the funds for this back in the 1930's as a tribute to our nations Constitution and flag.

Wonder why children don't seem interested in doing that sort of thing with their pennies nowadays? I suppose saving up for Gameboys and what-not costs too much for making this kind of purchase.

Knowing that the statue was erected in the '30's I was not surprised to find the Pledge Of Allegiance to be missing a phrase: "Under God" was added after the words "One nation" a few years later.

I would not be surprised to hear that those words have been deleted again soon.

Boy...I really, REALLY would like to walk up to the little area underneath the statue. I'll bet that would be an amazing view...

Apparently they do offer tours of the clock and its working sometimes.

Something to look forward to....someday. In the meantime I am satisfied with the views I did get.

Especially the one at the curb side parking meter.

Good old Salt Lake City: We get free parking during the Christmas season!


Marg said...

Thanks for sharing your field trip with me. I felt like I was with you..I love to walk in freshly fallen snow and put on a home-made touque...but your hat did look wonderful and maybe someday I will surprise everyone...
When and if I will be the first to know.

Lovella ♥ said...

Beautiful .. just beautiful. OH. .and good news. .we finally have something in common between your city and ours. . Japan. . our siter city is Fukagawa.
It is just gorgeous that city of yours. and as always you do look amazing behatted.