Samuel Newhouse helped to shape Salt Lake City’s skyline through his real estate investments.
Samuel Newhouse hit the ground running when he arrived in Utah in 1896. Born in New York to Russian-Jewish parents, Newhouse had been a lawyer in Pennsylvania before moving first to Colorado and then to Utah to try his hand in the mining industry. Within the space of a few years, Newhouse and his business partner Thomas Weir had netted millions of dollars from mines in Bingham Canyon and established themselves as Utah’s copper mining kings.
Newhouse’s newfound wealth allowed him to invest in Salt Lake’s real estate scene and add his stamp to the city’s skyline. According to one historian, the mining magnate was involved in the construction of at least thirty buildings, including the twin Boston and Newhouse skyscrapers on the south edge of downtown. He also donated land for the Commercial Club and Stock and Mining Exchange buildings, two important anchors of what was to become, in the words of more than one observer, Utah’s “Little Wall Street.” No doubt part of what Newhouse hoped to accomplish with his own personal building boom was the development of an economic center that could successfully compete with the Mormon-owned enterprises lining Main Street’s north end.
Perhaps Newhouse’s most intriguing, but least architecturally-impressive, building was the Newhouse Hotel. Designed by renowned Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb, the hotel was originally going to be a visual feast of towers and decorative flourishes, but Newhouse’s unfortunate bankruptcy in the 1910s necessitated a dramatic scaling-back of the original plans. Still the finished hotel was imposing. It contained 400 rooms and sported marble paneling and fixtures, as well as a Georgian garden and an elaborate French baroque café. Today, the hotel is gone, having been replaced by a parking lot.
Image: Boston & Newhouse Buildings. Boston and Newhouse buildings with insert of Samuel Newhouse, financer of the construction of the buildings. Courtesy of Utah State Historical Society.
Linda Sillitoe, A History of Salt Lake County (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society and Salt Lake County Commission, 1996), 34; Margaret D. Lester, “Life Styles of the Rich and Famous: Samuel and Ida Newhouse,” Beehive History 27 (2001): 18-19; John S. McCormick, Salt Lake City: The Gathering Place (Woodland Hills, California: Windsor Publications, 1980), 71-73; Margaret D. Lester, Brigham Street (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1977), 60; Richard W. Sadler, “The Impact of Mining on Salt Lake City,” Utah Historical Quarterly 47 (Summer 1979): 236-253; and John S. McCormick, The Historic Buildings of Downtown Salt Lake City (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1982), 41-47.