Is Ephraim losing
Apr. 19, 2108
Sanpete County is an area rich in historical architecture built by the pioneers.
But it’s not as rich as it had been many, many years ago before a great number of architectural gems—yes, some of them surely diamonds—began to disappear from the scene.
Over 100 years ago, centrally locating Snow College necessitated the removal of many pioneer-era (1854-1890) homes in Ephraim. Later expansion and student housing mandated the demolition of still more such homes.
But now, sadly, we see an example of a not-so-necessary demolition: the once-beautiful Madsen house (295 E. College Avenue), which had informed observant passersby as to Ephraim’s beginnings and the admirable workmanship and ideals of the pioneers.
For an accurate historical record, not only should the statelier and more beautiful historic houses be preserved but also the humbler, simpler ones belonging to the laborer, the farmer, the not so well-to-do. These houses also demonstrate admirable, long-abandoned building skills and often convey a homely charm.
Not only did Snow College disband their comprehensive Traditional Building Skills Institute (TBSI) program years ago, which could have been vital to our community, they went so far as to demolish the very focus of the TBSI—its hands-on restoration project, the Madsen house.
What a gift that restoration would have been to our community—an inspiring example!
Now it is gone.
I know a little about restoring old houses, and I know where there’s a will there certainly is a way. Foundation problems? Not so hard to deal with. It’s simply an overused excuse to facilitate the needless destruction of an irreplaceable historical asset.
We need not be helpless victims to the whims of shortsighted people who consider historic buildings to be dispensable.
We need to educate people as to the value of protecting and preserving our ever-diminishing and always threatened architectural history.
Why not offer a class at Snow College?
Why not reinstate the TBSI? The outstanding Greaves-Deakin house at 118 S. Main Street would be an excellent choice for a TBSI project.
Additionally, why does our local government do nothing to protect Ephraim’s architectural heritage so it will survive to tell the story of our town’s unique beginnings? Why doesn’t the city buy up threatened buildings to resell under covenant and on condition their exteriors be historically preserved?
Right now, three or more such houses on Ephraim’s Main Street are in dire need of protection.
Is it just a matter of time until they too will fall hapless victims of people who fail to understand and appreciate their value?
It is time to take some decisive steps to save Ephraim’s pioneer architecture.