Residents, friends and supporters of Yalecrest Local Historic District have recently written some beautiful letters to our city officials. Here’s a sampling of those who gave us permission to publish:
The recent uproar over designating Yalecrest a historic district is interesting (and even amusing) for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the way it mirrors the current national debate between “libertarian” and “social contract” political philosophies. Libertarianism centers on the belief that individuals have the right to live their lives and manage their property in whatever manner they choose, while a social contract implies that people necessarily give up some of their freedom to government (or some other institution) to order to maintain social order and achieve a sense of the public or collective good. Where do individual rights end and those of the community begin? It seems that we should all stop and ask ourselves these kinds of questions. What do we give up to be a part of community? What does it take to have a good neighborhood? What does being a good citizen involve? For me, the answers are quite easy. The charm of the Yalecrest district lies in the romance of its historic buildings, the restraint and economy of its smallish (by American standards) houses, and the quiet, unostentatious quality of life here. Our neighborhood is largely immune from the “affluenza” epidemic sweeping the country—the world of supersized people and their houses. I want to keep it so, and this is why I favor Landmarks designation. Placing some restrictions on property rights within our neighborhood does more than preserve the buildings; those restrictions help us achieve the common goal of keeping our community the way we like it. As a professor of architectural history, a preservation professional, and former member of the HLC, I can state unequivocally that such designation will not stifle innovation and creativity within the district. The guidelines are not so strict as to prohibit change. In fact, they do much the opposite. By imposing limits, they make us think harder to find ways of fitting current lifestyles into the existing architectural fabric. Those needing giant houses and three-car garages have plenty of other neighborhoods in the city to choose from, they don’t need ours.
Dr. Thomas Carter
1762 Michigan Avenue
To Whom it May Concern,
I lived at 1621 Harvard from 1992-1999, during which I remodeled my old home. It became a labor of love. The history and character that my home had was special. It was built in the 30’s and I loved the inside architecture with the carved arches and coved ceilings and the outside image of my house was perfect. Quaint. The African gumwood was irreplaceable.
I found a box of old photographs that showed that the previous owners were involved in the many facets of a growing Salt Lake City. They had lived in that house for over 50 years. The house became more than just a house, it became a friend. The house had a personality.
I noticed during that time that many of the old houses that made up the character of the area were being demolished and houses were built that seemed completely out of place. The lots in this area are designed to be proportionate to the size and scale of the houses. Huge houses were being built that should never been even considered on small lots.
But there were no real protections in place to rescue those houses before they were demolished. It is truly sad. This is our past, our history and once it is gone, it is gone forever. In 1999, we moved to Park City where my husband has a house in Old Town. Old Town Park City is a Historic District and there are strict codes that need to be followed, but it is not a problem since we all realize that by keeping our properties up increases the value of the homes in our area significantly. The small lots and small homes are what make Park City Old Town what it is.
Two years ago we decided to renovate our house we literally took the home down to the studs and rebuilt it from the ground up keeping the dimensions that the historic code required. We rebuilt it with better wiring, plumbing, insulation and heating. And it is beautiful. We had several changes to our plans because of the historic code, but nothing that was overtly expensive or out of line. The outside diameters of the house are exactly the same while the interior is modern, warm and inviting.
The values of homes in Old Town Park City have quadrupled since the 2002 Olympics. Compared to other neighborhoods in the surrounding area, Old Town has stayed well above the norm for home value increases. A good part of that is due to the historic nature of the neighborhood.
|Single Family||Median Price||Homes Sold|
|2009||$1,456,257||29 Homes Sold|
|2008||$1,576,140||23 Homes Sold|
|2007||$1,264,375||34 Homes Sold|
|2006||$987,000||36 Homes Sold|
|2005||$745,000||73 Homes Sold|
Of course the housing market has tapered off, but the price of the homes in the Historic District have not fallen nearly as much as the surrounding area.
Designating the Yalecrest area a historic district would be nothing short of saving a part of Salt Lake City’s beautiful history. It really isn’t a choice but an obligation.
Marianne Olafson Bicksler
Previous owner of 1621 Harvard Ave.
There is nothing more charming than a neighborhood that cares about the look and feel of the place they have chosen to live, raise their families and retire. Unfortunately these days the only way to protect the charm and historic character of a neighborhood from poorly conceived work and demolition is to put in place a local historic preservation ordinance. I love the neighborhood beauty of Yalecrest and wholeheartedly support the efforts to make Yalecrest a Local Historic District.
Thank you very much.
Kim J. Childs
1655 E. 900 South
I am writing to express my support of the Yalecrest LHD designation. In 1992 I purchased my 1926 cottage Tudor style home at 1503 East Michigan Avenue. Previously, I owned an historic home in Park City, built in 1900. Enjoying the distinct architecture and charm of living in an older home guided me to my purchase in the Yalecrest / Harvard Yale area.
During the last several years I have been greatly concerned about the number of homes being torn down and replaced by much larger homes. Up the street from me, on Diestel Avenue, two very large homes sit next to each other occupying lots that formerly were the site of two much smaller single level homes. The height, scale, use of minimal setbacks and large square footage tower over and dwarf neighboring homes. The small bungalow to the north of these homes is forever shrouded in shade from the east and the south due to the height and orientation of these large homes. The bungalow also lost any view and back yard privacy it once offered. This has negatively impacted both the value and the owners ability to sell the home.
Approving the Yalecrest LHD designation will help provide safe guards needed to preserve the historic nature of the Yalecrest / Harvard Yale area and provide future generations the ability to experience and enjoy the beauty and unique architectural found in our area.Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
1503 East Michigan Avenue
To Whom It May Concern:
I’ve been following with great interest the debate over the creation of a Historic District for the Yalecrest neighborhood in Salt Lake City.
I am a civilian employee of Dugway Proving Ground in the Utah west desert and have the privilege of living at Dugway. It’s a great place to live, but we all live in military housing. This means that all the homes are simple, functional, and pretty much identical.
One of the things that attracts me to Salt Lake City on the weekends is the variety of unique neighborhoods and shopping districts. I love the Yalecrest neighborhood – I have friends who live there, and I visit often. I love the unique brick homes behind the quiet, tree-lined streets.
What I don’t like are those ugly mega-homes that are being built after the previous structures have been bulldozed. They are jarringly out of context with the rest of the neighborhood.
I realize people are concerned about property rights. But the people who are fans of huge homes with no yards have the right to build in many locations throughout the Salt Lake Valley. What is the point of destroying one unique neighborhood like Yalecrest just to make it look like so many other neighborhoods, not only in the Salt Lake Valley, but neighborhoods throughout the country?
So many cities through the country are filling up with subdivision architecture and endless strip malls containing the same stores as every other strip mall in the United States. You have something very unique and distinctive in the Yalecrest neighborhood. Please do everything you can to preserve this urban gem. Otherwise, what is the point in visiting Salt Lake City when it looks exactly like Tooele, West Valley City, or any other generic city found anywhere else in Utah or the United States?
Every day when I look out my windows from my house, go on walks or just drive in the neighborhood I feel so lucky to be able to look at such beautiful pieces of art. Would we want to go up to a picture that was painted by Picasso, Monet or any other artist and paint on top of the canvas? On the other hand we live in these pieces of art. They need to stay functional. I think we can make some changes within reason. We as individuals do not always make proper changes. What I am trying to say is that in the long run having a Local Historic District will greatly help preserve these pieces of art that we call home. Why are there about 1,200 Local Historical districts? Because they work!!!
I am am writing to express my enthusiastic support for a local historic district designation for the irreplaceable Yalecrest area of Salt Lake City.
My wife and I were the initiators of what became the successful bid for historic district designation for our neighborhood, Westmoreland Place. Last December, I wrote the first letter to the Historic Landmarks Commission expressing our neighborhood’s interest in such designation after we did some preliminary polling of families in the area. A few months later, a small committee had formed around the idea with the addition of Jean Zancanella and Matt Durham.
When we first proposed an historic district, we didn’t experience anywhere near the acrimony (by an extremely strident and organized minority) that has been the case in Yalecrest. Why? I think our neighbors agreed that, far from taking away property rights, an historic district actually bestows several new ones; notably, that when someone moves into such a protected area they can count on the fact that the valuable historic charm that they paid for will remain undiminished. Many of us consider that a property right worth having.
Please help give those same rights to the residents of Yalecrest and save this important city asset for the generations to come. To cave in to those temporary residents who would change it forever just to make a quick buck would be tragic.
Traci O’Very Covey
To whom it may concern,
I would like to voice my support of the effort to make the Yalecrest neighborhood a Local Historic District. I both have friends that live in the area and I am a longtime employee of the U of U. Because of this I have spent time in that neighborhood for 15 years and would like to see its character preserved. It is a neighborhood full of reasonable sized houses, on reasonable sized lots with mature landscapes. All of which help create the unique feel of that area. Please preserve it.
1072 So Jeremy
As a long time (40 plus years) resident of the Yalecrest neighborhood I have been distressed over some of the remodels and teardowns. Furthermore, I do not support the group trying to eliminate the possibility of an historic district. Without the protection of an historic district I am afraid the wave of oversized, inappropriate houses will continue until the neighborhood is unrecognizable. People seem to forget that lots and houses in this area are of moderate size. Even the larger original houses are not mega-mansions. Perhaps with the recent trend to smaller houses the pressure on our area will lessen; although the location is desirable which can lead to destruction of the neighborhood one house at a time.
When we remodeled our home on Michigan Avenue 35 years ago we were very concerned to protect the visual aspect of the area. Our roofline and the front of the house remained original so the look of the street was unchanged. We did this even though there were no limits on what we could have done, but because the area is precious. In that same way my hope is that, with the protection of an historic district, this beautiful comfortable area will remain livable and unique for many years to come.
Meredith L. Simmons
To Whom It May Concern,
I am in strong support of creating a local historic district within the Yalecrest neighborhood. It is a treasure in our City and I cannot idly stand by and see this treasure destroyed.
Please preserve this area. Too many concessions have already be made bowing to loud but not many voices.
I would hate for this to be another example where technology wins over the human voice desiring preservation.
Dear Yalecrest Yes,
This is just a note in support of your intitiatve. I have been following the dispute between your group and the group whose members wish to destroy the architectural integrity of the Yalecrest neighborhood in pursuit of their own ends. This shows an appalling lack of esthetic and historic sensibility and a callous disregard for the good of the whole.
I grew up in the Avenues in the 1950s and I can remember quite clearly the razing of beautiful old homes in that era. One of these was a graceful Victorian mansion on the corner of Second Avenue and I Street that sucumbed to the wrecking ball and was replaced by a monstrosity of an apartment house with a sort of Swiss decor (still there) whose footprint goes all the way to the sidewalk. Depredations such as these continued until the 1970s, when a group of citizens got together and did what was necessary to stop them and to preserve the Avenues.
Yalecrest has similar characteristics and I feel strongly that its fabric should be similarly honored and preserved. More power to you.