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Editor's note: This article is a part of a series reviewing Utah history for KSL.com's Historic section. SALT LAKE CITY — The 109-year-old Peery Hotel building, billed as one of Utah’s earliest luxury hotels, remains one of the state’s classier stops.
The three-story, prairie-style brick building sits in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City and still accommodates guests a century after its prime during a mining boom in the state.
Now, it’s the focus of a Cleveland, Ohio-based historic real estate investment group, which announced last week it invested in the century-old building — likely keeping it around Salt Lake City for years to come. GBX Group announced it donated a historic preservation easement to Preservation Utah with the intent to keep the hotel’s “historic character and architectural integrity” intact as the Salt Lake City skyline continues to grow around the building.
“GBX looks to invest in buildings that are both historically significant and serve as catalysts for community revitalization and future development," Antonin Robert, GBX’s community development president said in a statement last week about the move. “In the Peery Hotel, we have found that and much more.”
The building, located 110 W. 300 South, was built in 1910 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Feb. 17, 1978. It stands over the land where Utah’s first permanent Jewish house of worship was built in 1883, according to a plaque placed outside of the building by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.
The Peery Hotel was built during a period when hotels were quickly popping up to match the population increases from immigrants coming to work in Utah’s thriving mines, according to a history of the hotel compiled by the Utah State Historical Society.
The owners, David and Joseph Peery, rejected a $100,000 offer for the property and instead built a $120,000 luxury hotel, Salt Lake City Television noted in a short history video about the building. It was three stories high and had 95 rooms.
David Peery was a prominent businessman and ran a mining brokerage office during the mining boom in Utah and Nevada. Joseph Peery was once superintendent over Weber County's schools, founded the Ogden public library and also served as a Temple Square guide, the Utah State Historical Society noted.
They were also the sons of a prominent banker who was once the manager of the ZCMI branch in Ogden, the Utah State Historical Society added. And, they were left with wealth. When their father died in 1901, they inherited an estate valued at about $750,000, (that’s worth more than $22 million today, according to an inflation calculator, in case you wondered).
The hotel was built in 1910 but didn’t open for business until Sept. 15, 1911. A reception held that night included an open house, and hundreds flocked to the event to check out the lavish new building, the Ogden Evening Standard reported.
The hotel was a hub for guests coming through Salt Lake City on the railroads, Visit Salt Lake points out. It was built about the same time as the Denver Rio Grande and Union Pacific depots, which also remain a few blocks from the hotel.
By the 1940s, it advertised that it was the only hotel in Salt Lake City with air conditioning — something that was invented in 1902 but didn’t become mainstream until the 1950s, according to Popular Mechanics.
The hotel wasn't always known as the "Peery Hotel." In 1947, Harry Miles, who had leased the hotel for more than two decades prior, purchased the hotel and renamed it the Miles Hotel, according to the Utah State Historical Society.
As the hotel switched owners multiple times over the ensuing years, the name eventually reverted back to the original Peery Hotel by the 1980s. It was renovated in 1999 as a "luxury boutique hotel," according to the hotel's website.
The building also has its own folklore and mystery. For example, it’s listed on hauntedplaces.org and other spooky websites. According to legend, a woman can be heard moaning throughout the main hallways and in the elevator of the building. Some also reported hearing the sound of children running in the hallway, and a man standing in the doorways, the website reported.
Preservation Utah officials were thrilled with the future of the building seemingly secured for decades to come.
"As one of the few remaining railroad-era hotels that is open to the public, ensuring its preservation and stewardship in perpetuity is a tremendous gift to the community and to Utah's heritage,” said Kirk Huffaker, executive director for the group, about GBX Global's pledge to preserve the building.