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Courtesy of Stevens Nelson

Saved from demolition, Provo's oldest house finds new home

By Natalie Crofts | Posted - Mar 14th, 2014 @ 4:03pm



PROVO — A historic house in Provo that once faced demolition arrived at its new resting spot in Pioneer Village Thursday.

The adobe home was slated for demolition in October to make way for a church parking lot expansion, but was rescued after local historians rallied together to move it to Pioneer Village in Provo. The last portion of the house was moved to the village on Thursday, according to director Steve Nelson.

“What we’ve been doing for the last two months is we have been taking the adobe out of that building brick by brick,” he said. “We’ve been putting the adobe on pallets and we’ve been taking the brick over to the Pioneer Village and its being stacked there. The building was too fragile to pick up and move in total, so we had to dismantle it.”

After the adobe was removed, it was replaced with a wood frame to preserve the historic attic and roof structure of the building for its transport to its new location in the Pioneer Village. A rock foundation will be built and then a facade of adobe will be put back on the house starting Monday.

They plan to leave the adobe exposed, but treat it so it won't get washed out.

“When the building is complete it will look exactly like it did back in the 1850s when it was built,” Nelson said.

The home was built in 1853 by Bishop James Loveless, the father of Pioneer Village's founder David Loveless. Loveless began the village and neighboring museum in 1931 with donations of buildings and artifacts.

Nelson said most people think of log cabins when they imagine pioneer homes. He said 80 percent of early Utah homes were actually made of adobe.

“Because of the fragile nature of adobe, we don’t have many of them preserved,” he said. "To be able to bring an adobe home into the village is a major addition."

Getting the home ready to move.

They hope to have the house finished by Memorial Day weekend when the village opens for walk-in traffic.

The total cost of moving the building will be about $70,000, Nelson said. Of that, $64,000 has been raised through donations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which purchased the land the house was sitting on to expand a parking lot, is contributing $20,000 to the cause.

A charity ball and concert will be held on May 2 at the Provo Recreation Center to help raise the remaining funds. A concert by musician and storyteller Clive Romney will be followed by an old-fashioned pioneer dance with the help of a vintage dance instructor, Nelson said. Tickets can be purchased online.

Pioneer Village will also host an event in the village on April 1, which is the anniversary of when pioneers first arrived in Provo in 1849.

“We’re having a founder’s day celebration in the village so people can see what we’re doing in the village with the Loveless home,” he said.

A historian will talk about adobe, as well as the history of the home and the Loveless family, during the celebration. Refreshments will include sourdough bread and fresh churned butter.

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