Guest Editorial, March 10-13, 2012 |

Guest Editorial, March 10-13, 2012

Gary Kimball, Park City

It appears that Anita Slevin’s guest editorial of February 25-28 has silenced any layman whose voice might dare to question the "winning design" wooden addition to the Kimball Art Center, though I’m tempted to say that it looks likes a Danish version of a sunken upside-down Viking long boat. But I won’t do so. My first thoughts were, "It’s a salute to the Titanic."

I will, for Anita and the public in general, offer a few historical tidbits about this section of town.

This structure will be located where George Gillian Snyder constructed the Dexter Livery Stable in 1874. Dexter was a famous trotter racehorse from upstate New York and, at that time, was the rage of the horse-fancier public. The building was a utilitarian structure, three stories counting the basement, that could be entered from Pacific Street, (lower Main Street). It had a manpower elevator comprised of several sets of pulleys. The floors of the livery were 2 by 8, rough-cut cottonwood boards. They were laid loosely on the floor; no nails were used to secure them. After a year, all had a severe downward-bow caused by the heavy horse-and-wagon traffic. At that time, they would be turned over crown side up, and would see service for a second year, only to be replaced in the third year.

My grandfather and his brothers purchased the Dexter Livery from Snyder in 1886 to become the anchor of the Kimball Brothers Pioneer Stage and livery stables.

In 1929, Gilbert Kimball and his brother Robert constructed the Kimball Brothers Garage and automobile storage. In those days most people placed their cars in storage for the winter. At that time the building was considered state of the art. Constructed from brick and concrete and steel girders to hold the roof, it was proclaimed fireproof, a novel idea for Park City. On the roof was painted an arrow pointing the way to the airport in Salt Lake City for lost pilots.

To the south across from the livery of Heber Avenue was a structure called the concrete house. It was considered a brilliant step forward in home construction. This building is still standing and is where Willis Ritter grew to manhood, to become that controversial federal judge from Utah, who was a constant thorn in the paw of those who ruled Utah.

On the east across Pacific Street (lower Main Street) still stands the Union Pacific railroad depot. The changes on this building are so great that few people without help from a field guide can recognize it. Unfortunately, the remodeling of the interior of the warehouse section of the building destroyed some folk art that might rival Grandma Moses. On the west wall were two wonderful caricatures of Chinese, painted by an unknown artist, in a medium consisting of coal-oil (kerosene) mixed with stove-soot. One of the subjects was dressed in traditional peasant clothes with a broad-brimmed straw hat, and the other was dressed in western formal attire, top hat and all.

The architects who won the KAC design contest say the building will be a tribute to the Silver King Coalition Building. It will be visible from all of "Old Town" and act as a center point if you are lost.

The Coalition Building was large, stately and pure utilitarian. It had grace, function and beauty and cannot be replaced. Am I overly suspicious in thinking that this is only a ploy to get around the building code height limitations?

I really should be thankful that they have chosen, for their medium, Lincoln Logs instead of their obvious preference for Legos.