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Salt Lake City historic home tour to feature Central City

Salt Lake City historic home tour to feature Central City

Preservation Utah is hosting its 51st Annual Historic Homes Tour in one of Salt Lake City’s oldest neighborhoods.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tiffany and Edward Paulsen’s home in Salt Lake City is a stop on Preservation Utah’s 51st Annual Historic Homes Tour.

In many ways, a stroll through Central City is a stroll through the residential history of Utah’s capital.

It’s an eclectic mix of middle-class housing trends that date to Salt Lake City’s founding and a reminder of how the age of automobiles prompted descendants of pioneers to settle the new suburban frontier.

On Saturday, history buffs and the generally curious will have a chance to get an up-close peek at the often overlooked neighborhood as Preservation Utah hosts its 51st Annual Historic Homes Tour, a fundraising event that helps the nonprofit keep the lights on.

“When we say it’s historic, we’re not just telling one story here,” Executive Director David Amott said. “It’s layer after layer after layer after layer of histories.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tiffany and Edward Paulsen’s home in Salt Lake City is a stop on Preservation Utah’s 51st Annual Historic Homes Tour.

From the capital’s earliest days, residents were living and even farming in Central City.

Agricultural estates were built next to what is now Liberty Park, but, as the city mushroomed, blocks were subdivided and Victorian cottages began to fill in the lots.

These days, Central City wanderers will see row cottages that Amott said appear to have fallen out of a Charles Dickens novel, and brick bungalows that were built as cars ruled the road.

“You have, really, the history of Salt Lake being played out from block to block, from house to house,” Amott said, “because of what this district has always been: kind of the residential core of the city.”

By the mid-20th century, many residents vacated the walkable blocks and opted to take their cars to the suburbs, giving way to a new community in Central City. And, more recently, Amott said, Central City has contended with gentrification.

“I hope this doesn’t happen,” Amott said, “but potentially, with certain zoning plans and things like that, its character could be lost, especially outside the (historic) district.”

Central City is protected by a local historic district that extends from South Temple to 900 South and from 500 East to 700 East. The district was created to preserve the historic character of the area, subjecting exterior modifications and proposed demolitions to design reviews.

Those who attend Saturday’s tour will have access to six houses in Central City, including one that was converted into an architecture office and another that belongs to Tiffany and Edward Paulsen.

“I’m hoping that some other people who are also lovers and appreciators of older homes see some of the things that I find special about it,” Tiffany Paulsen said, “and that it brings them some joy the way it brings our family joy.”

The Paulsen home is full of quirks, like a giant re-created painting of Perseus and Andromeda on her living room ceiling, a ring of skeleton keys and a different doorknob on each door. Many elements of the house, she said, haven’t been changed since it was built in the early 1900s.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A painting covers the ceiling of the front room of Tiffany and Edward Paulsen’s Salt Lake City home, which is a stop on Preservation Utah’s 51st Annual Historic Homes Tour.

Tour attendees may wander the neighborhood at their own pace and receive information from volunteers who will be stationed at each house.

Preservation Utah will accommodate anyone who signs up for the tour, Amott said. Tickets are available online in advance or in person the day of the tour. Participants will receive a booklet with information about the tour and footwear coverings to wear inside the houses.

The tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be headquartered at Wasatch Community Gardens. For nonmembers of Preservation Utah, tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 the day of the tour. Members will be able to buy tickets for $20.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tiffany and Edward Paulsen’s home in Salt Lake City is a stop on Preservation Utah’s 51st Annual Historic Homes Tour.