Capitol Grounds Commission

Entity: 188
Entity Type: State Government


On 6 March 1888, the Utah legislature created the Board of Commissioners on Capitol Grounds with the principle duty of taking possession of land conveyed by Salt Lake City to Utah Territory as a site for a capitol building. They were to "grade, fence, improve, ornament, beautify, lay off, and do all things which in the judgment of said Board may be fit and proper for the preparation of said grounds for the purposes contemplated by the trust created by the conveyance of said city and the acceptance thereof by said Territory." Following statehood 4 January 1896, the commission met for the last time on 30 January and then dissolved. No further plans were made for a building until the creation of a new state Capitol Commission, Agency 2499, in 1909.

Biography/History Notes

The commission received bids and awarded contracts for such things as grading and fencing. The commission was to construct a reservoir and pipelines in City Creek to supply water for the grounds and the planned buildings, and they received regular engineering reports on costs, specifications, and progress on this reservoir. The commission oversaw the planting of trees, choosing both species and designating where to plant. They oversaw the building of minor structures such as an equipment shed, and prepared expanded roadways. They tested native Utah stone for potential buildings, and solicited Capitol building plans from architectural firms in 1889-1890. One plan was approved by the legislature with modifications, and in 1894 the commission recommended that construction begin on one wing of the territorial capitol, but funding was not forthcoming; ground maintenance continued on a limited basis for the next two years before the commission disbanded.

The Commission consisted of the Governor of the Territory, Caleb West and Arthur Thomas during this period, and the following members appointed by the legislature: James Sharp and Thomas Marshall of Salt Lake County; Joseph Stanford of Weber County; Aaron F. Farr, Jr. of Cache County; Anthon H. Lund of Sanpete County; and A.O. Smoot, Jr. of Utah County. Members received a per diem and mileage allowance.

The Commission hired a secretary, George Blair, who served through April 1892. In June 1892, the paid secretarial position was abolished due to a limited appropriation made by the legislature that year; one of the members, Joseph Stanford, henceforth served as secretary.