Monday, July 22, 2013

Edifice in Embryo: Utah's Territorial Capitol

The family and I took a trip to St. George recently.  While on the way home, we stopped for a meal in Fillmore and decided to take a stroll around the old Territorial Capitol building.  It was an interesting experience.

There is a remarkable feeling of irony in Fillmore.  The great plans of it being the grand central Capitol of the State of Deseret lay unrealized.  The town is sleepy with broad streets and quite turn of the century cottages.  There is a great sense of 'what could have been'.  In the center of town, surrounded by weathered homes and a roof damaged public rec center is Utah's Territorial Capitol.

The edifice itself speaks to the failed dreams of territorial glory.  The Capitol Building is only one wing of a planned four wing structure.  On the north side, the concrete shows the curve of the planned rotunda that would act as the center point of the separate wings.  Instead, today it is an open air plaza.

Here is what was originally planned.

The politics and acrimony that existed between the Territorial Legislature and the Federally appointed Territorial Governor make for very interesting reading.  Had the relationship been better between Utah and the U.S Government, Utah's history and geography would have turned out much different.  In a way, Utah is still bristling from its rough treatment up to its entrance into the Union.

Nevertheless, the embryonic Territorial Capitol speaks to the dramatic impact that changes in use of space can have on our communities and skylines.  When state business and influence shifted from Fillmore to Salt Lake City, the dreams of a grand Capitol simply faded into the history books.  Fillmore has never been the same since.    

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