Home-tour buildings have a charm
June 12, 2012
The Park City Museum and Historical Society has selected upper Park Avenue as the site for this year’s historical home tour.
While there are homes on the street, such as the residence of Hope Melville, the tour also the Washington School House Hotel, managed by Jessica Davis.
Melville and Davis spoke with The Park Record about what an honor it was to have their respective buildings included in the tour.
Hope Melville, homeowner of 527 Park Avenue
Melville has lived in her remodeled miner’s house for four years and is happy to share it with others during the tour.
"The house was built in 1888 by William (W.M.) Moffat and he worked at the Marsac Mill," Melville said. "He paid $150 for the lot and built a little house. He and his wife and four daughters lived here for a while."
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Unfortunately, Moffat inadvertently killed himself one day after work.
"There was a story in The Park Record that said he died," Melville said. "He came home with a stomach ache and, as was his habit, went to the pantry to drink some alcohol, but drank some carbolic acid, which he may have had to be used as an antiseptic instead.
"He came into the living room where his wife and two friends were seated and he said, ‘I have drunk poison, so I now must die,’" Melville said. "They called the doctor, but he didn’t recover."
Soon after, the family had to sell the house.
"Throughout the years, the house was sold and remodeled time and again and we bought it four years ago and remodeled it again," Melville said with a laugh.
While most homes on the tour measure between 800 and 900 square feet, Melville’s three-bedroom home is 1,900 square feet.
"It’s a lot bigger than what it was when it was first built, but it’s not huge," she said. "We wanted to keep the house consistent with the Old Town aesthetic and keep the scale of the neighborhood, so we kept it small, and we have a second lot that serves as a yard.
"We can live comfortably in a small, but modern home and still have guests.
"I love the home tour and I enjoy going to look at what other people have done to their homes, so I guess it’s my turn to share," she said.
Jessica Davis, general manager of the Washington School House Hotel
Like Melville, Davis is glad her building is part of the annual historic home tour.
"It’s not every year that our section of Park Avenue gets featured," Davis said. "Of course, this is a great year to be on the tour because we just finished a complete renovation on the building last December."
The Washington School House, located at 543 Park Ave., is one of Park City’s oldest buildings, she said.
"It’s a 12-bedroom building that measures 12,000 square feet that was built in 1889 on seven Old Town lots," Davis explained. "The building has worn many hats. It was originally a schoolhouse, but was also a home for the Veterans of Foreign Wars for several years and then left derelict for a few years."
In 1984, the structure became a hotel.
Davis, who has been the hotel manager for three years, said the most recent renovation took place last year.
"We closed the doors on April 4, 2011, to start the renovations and reopened for guests in December 27," she said. "The new facilities include a small lap pool and a hot tub in the backyard, a living room area and ski lounge."
The goal for the renovation was to highlight the architectural features of the original building.
"It is built around three school rooms that measure 30 feet by 30 feet and they all have 16-foot ceilings and nine-foot windows," Davis said. "To see these windows was something that the school kids saw and that was exciting to me.
"It was amazing to take down the building to its original studs and open up the original features and making them a prominent part of the renovation," she said. "We enjoy allowing the public to come take a look at our property and it’s a great honor to be involved with anything the Historical Society does."
The Park City Museum’s annual historic home tour will be held Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. The cost is $15 for the public and $10 for museum members. Tickets can be purchased at the Museum, 528 Main St., in advance or at the Historic Home Tour kiosk at the High West Distillery, 703 Park Ave., the day of the tour. At the end of the tour, from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m., Zoom Restaurant will host a reception where the Park City Historic Society will give out Preservation plaques that can be displayed on the homes. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org or call (435) 649-7457.