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From cultural traditions to national trends : the transition of domestic Mormon architecture in Cache Valley, Utah, 1860-1915

Author: Jami J Van Huss
Publisher: 2009.
Dissertation: M.A., History Utah State University 2009
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
As any architectural historian would argue, historic buildings are the most accessible, yet illusive documents of their founding culture, and as the relevant historiography argues, the early Mormon pioneer built environment in Utah is no exception. In fact, many Mormon architectural historians posit that due to the exclusivity and unusual circumstances of many Mormon settlements, their original structures have an  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Academic theses
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript
Document Type: Book, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Jami J Van Huss
OCLC Number: 696368787
Notes: Department: History.
List of figures: Map of Mormon colonization to 1857 -- Map fo Wellsville, ca. 1890 -- Four houses exhibiting different architectural styles in Wellsville -- Zial Riggs house, built ca. 1861 -- Samuel Crowther Mitton house, ca. 1890 -- Samuel Crowther Mitton house, built, ca. 1865 -- John Owen Gunnell house, built in 1914 -- Cover of locally available plan book.
Reproduction Notes: Print reproduction.
Description: x, 74 pages : color illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Contents: Architecture as cultural evidence --
Transitions of image and significance of place --
Two men and two houses --
National housing trends arrive --
Conclusions.
Responsibility: by Jami J. Van Huss.

Abstract:

As any architectural historian would argue, historic buildings are the most accessible, yet illusive documents of their founding culture, and as the relevant historiography argues, the early Mormon pioneer built environment in Utah is no exception. In fact, many Mormon architectural historians posit that due to the exclusivity and unusual circumstances of many Mormon settlements, their original structures have an exceptional ability to comment on the culture that erected them. The first permanent settlement in Cache Valley, Wellsville, provides a particularly lucrative opportunity to discover a great deal about the founding pioneers who established it due to the city's time and place within the context of Mormon colonization, the plethora of original domiciles that remain standing, and the wealth of genealogical documents that still exist in the community shedding light on the lives and skills of the community's original craftsmen. While the voices of vernacular builders are often lost, leaving only their structures to testify of the culture, the incorporation of personal histories and interviews with descendants and acquaintances of three specific builders grants this argument a distinct foundation. This thesis explores the change in housing designs in Wellsville from vernacular styles to nationally popular housing patterns at the turn of the twentieth century by examining three specific structures. By contrasting a stone saltbox and clapboarded Georgian house, both built in the 1860s, with a bungalow built in 1914, and investigating the lives of their respective builders, I demonstrate how housing design practices mirror the social and political transition of the Mormon church during this period. At the same time that late-nineteenth century Mormons sought to change their image by emerging from isolation, gaining statehood, and assimilating into a more national identity, a modern housing movement proliferated throughout the western United States. By participating in this transition of domestic structures, the Mormons discarded the vernacular housing traditions brought by Mormonism's founding community of diverse converts from Europe and New England in favor of popular designs readily available in widely published plan books. Had the national transition in housing happened even a decade earlier, it is plausible that the still-insular and strictly traditional Mormon culture region would have resisted such a change. Thus the alteration in housing serves as evidence of the transition in Mormonism toward the national mainstream at the turn of the twentieth century. While a vast historiography concerning Mormon sacred structures exists, this thesis strengthens the discourse regarding the religion's understudied domestic built environment. Furthermore, by illustrating the important role that historic houses in Cache Valley play in both discovering and remembering the foundation of this valley, I hope to foster the desire to both appreciate and preserve these structures as crucial pieces of cultural history.

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