Copublished with the Utah State Historical Society. Affiliated with the Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Heritage & Arts.
Stories of the ordinary people who helped build Salt Lake City emerge from a study of their often humble adobe houses. Rather than focusing on men and women in positions of power and influence, the emphasis here is on the lives of people who built their sturdy, simple homes from mud.
A Modest Homestead provides architectural descriptions of ninety-four extant adobe houses. These homes are for the most part unremarkable, except for their perhaps unexpected construction material. They are as basic as the people who built them—small tradesmen and farmers, laborers and domestics. Author Laurie Bryant discusses the neighborhoods in Salt Lake City where adobe houses have survived, often much renovated and disguised, and she showcases the houses not just as they appear today but as they were originally built. Almost all the houses now have additions and improvements, and without some dissection, they are not always recognizable. They now appear both comfortable and pleasant, which was not always the case in the nineteenth century. What emerges through closer examination and Bryant’s research is a fuller picture of the roughhewn life of many early Utahns.