Brigham City Mercantile Store

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Title

Brigham City Mercantile Store

Creator

Story written by Sarah Yates.

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Subtitle

Wells Fargo Building

Story

Today it is recognized as Wells Fargo Bank, located prominently on the corner of Main and Forest, across from the city and county seats of government. The building has undergone few changes since it was completed in 1891, and remains the most imposing commercial building in downtown Brigham City. Both its structural integrity and historical importance made it eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When it was built, the Brigham City Mercantile and Manufacturing Association’s magnificent three-story Classic Revival building was the last hurrah of the economic organization known informally as the Cooperative, or Co-op, to local residents.

Formed in 1865 under the leadership of Lorenzo Snow, the Co-op became the economic base of the community. In its heyday in the 1870s, the Co-op owned everything from a tannery and woolen mill to groceries and merchandise, sheep and cowherds, and even mulberry orchards to feed silkworms for its silk industry.

Residents were paid in scrip to spend within the cooperative system. In the mid-1870s a series of disasters befell the co-op: a crop failure, woolen mill fire, a failed sawmill and fines for cutting lumber in Idaho. In 1878 a federal tax was levied on the scrip issued by the cooperative. Although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the cooperative (and ZCMI) in 1884, the decision came too late, since most of the departments had disbanded.

When the money was refunded, the Cooperative build the mercantile store and moved stock from its original two-story building on the corner of Forest and First West (later renovated into an Opera House) and opened for business on May 2, 1891. Due to the depression of 1892 and competition from private business, plus a fire in 1894, the BCMMA went into receivership in 1895.

Three stories high, with a basement, the building is a 54 x 106 foot rectangle constructed of red brick with granite embellishments and concrete along the south and east walls, while the back walls are of quarried stone. The street level has large windows, while the upper levels include pairs of smaller windows, with arched window heads on the third floor. Two minor additions are located on the back walls, a fire escape, and a three-lane drive-through area.

The interior of the building has been modernized over the years, yet most of the original partitioning has survived. Since 1901 the south half of the first floor has been occupied by banking institutions, so has remained without partitions. Second-floor offices have been modernized with lowered ceilings. The top floor has retained the height of the original ceilings, as well as many of the early doors and moldings.

Since the demise of the co-op the building has housed numerous business and professional offices. The store and grounds were taken over by Deseret Savings Bank of Salt Lake City and deeded to First National Bank on November 8, 1901. Stohl Furniture moved into the north end of the main floor in 1904. Since coffins were sold, they later expanded to include embalming and the mortuary moved to the west annex. In 1909 a room on the main floor was used as a US Post Office.

Occupants of the second-floor offices have included real estate and insurance companies, abstractors, attorneys and dentists through the years. The third floor, built to accommodate social dancing, became headquarters for the Box Elder Commercial Club (later Chamber of Commerce) in 1920, at which time the city’s first elevator was installed. The north side was redecorated with a large meeting room with fluted columns, wainscoted walls, and fancy light fixtures. Many organizations met there during the next quarter century, until the Chamber of Commerce moved out in the mid-1940s.

First Security Bank of Utah bought the building from First National Bank of Brigham City on July 19, 1943, and it continued to house business and professional offices on its upper floors. The former club rooms served as a lodge for the Fraternal Order of Eagles for a few years. In 1973, Box Elder High School’s Palace Playhouse student troupe took over the area and incorporated most of its 1920s decor into its theater, with an enlarged stage and theater seats, continuing into the 1990s.

Wells Fargo Bank purchased the assets of First Security of Utah, and officially opened its local branch in April 2001, with a commitment to maintain the building’s historic exterior as a part of Brigham City’s downtown.

Official Website

Street Address

5 North Main Street
Brigham City, UT 84302

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ALi

good

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Marianne Padilla

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zuvalukoku

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