By Audrey Fraizer
Windows mathematically designed to the exact measurements of the columns in the daily newspaper supported the Deseret News’ “masthead” at the top of the nine-story building. A staircase enclosed in a circular glass tower running parallel to the columns suggests a newspaper’s fold, an inviting offer to imagine the stories percolating inside.
The company selected to design and construct the future 72,000-square-foot D-News headquarters anticipated the challenge it would find in combining “progressive” and “traditional” appeal to reflect the past while, also, reinforcing the future of the 147-year-old daily newspaper.
But that’s the way it had to be. The newspaper was an institution that the new high-tech facility could help move into the future.
“Any institution which has served continuously since 1850 is entitled to a new building,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the building’s dedication on May 28, 1997, and attended by more than 200 invited guests. “With this new facility, one of many it has occupied during its long history, it is poised to move forward to a better day than it has ever known.” (Deseret News, Wednesday, March 28, 1997)
For more than a decade, the 180 members of the newswriting staff produced a daily newspaper in an efficient and technically building savvy architects believed essential for the deadline driven newspaper staff. The “color palette” of the interior created a calming environment and the large exterior windows provided spectacular views of the city and, to the east, the Wasatch Mountains.
The views, central location, exterior aesthetics, and unique floor plan made the building the ideal choice for the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED™) and Priority Dispatch Corp. (PDC).
“We couldn’t ask for a better location,” said PDC President Alan Fletcher. “We’re in the heart of a downtown that’s turning heads here and abroad. We’re very excited about making the IAED a visible part of the progress we’ve seen in the past several years.”
While the move also makes sense for practical reasons—projected company growth, for example—there will always be a bit of nostalgia attached to 139 E. South Temple. South Temple has been Salt Lake City’s most prestigious address since the city was settled and Dr. Jeff Clawson, Academy co-founder, had long admired while growing up not far from the offices the IAED occupied for a quarter century.
The original home of Lodge No. 85 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E.) was constructed in 1923 at a cost of $300,000, which paid for the 1,300-seat lodge room, a grand dining room, an extensive library, billiard and card rooms, and more than 50 sleeping rooms. The main entrance, reached by the stairs on either side of the tunnel, opened (and still does open) into a lobby featuring marble-sheathed columns and gold-leafed ceiling moldings.
The Roman-arch tunnel between the building proper and the South Temple sidewalk led to a gymnasium where many boxers practiced their first punches. The Elks introduced West Jordan, Utah, native and former Middleweight Champion of the World Gene Fullmer to the sport through the Intermountain Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The Elks hosted Golden Gloves matches held in the commodious lodge room.
The Elks sold the building in the mid-1970s. Several additions were made to accommodate the tastes of the new tenants, including a sixth story on the roof and a two-story glass enclosure on the east side. The patio below was the outdoor section of the city’s hot spot bar on the Wasatch Front and written up by Playboy Magazine as one of the country’s 20 best. You could dine on Northern Italian cuisine at the Confetti Restaurant, open on the ground floor in 1983.
Senior Journal Editor James Thalman, a former Deseret News health and business writer, remembers attending a Three Dog Night concert on the ground floor during the 1970s and any boxing fan will tell you about the matches held in the former lodge room.
The Academy started on one floor (the sixth floor) and expanded to offices on the second, fourth, and fifth floors and warehouse space on the ground level.
Tudy Benson, IAED director of European Relations, recalls her arrival 17 years ago, hired as the Academy’s German translator. Dr. Clawson was in the office Fletcher occupied until December’s recent move of less than a half-mile south and west and Academy Co-founder Bill Lloyd was in the corner office behind her.
The small group shared a mutual admiration for the building, both the architecture and interior design (such as the crown molding on the second floor), Benson said.
“There was something to be said for reporting to work on a street that required no introduction,” she said.
Dr. Clawson is the first to admit that the South Temple location had been a great place over the past decades but, now, he prefers to talk about the building giving the Academy ample space to continue its progress.
“Change is the way the future reveals itself,” he said.