In 1861, Brigham Young visited the Virgin Valley and said, "There will yet be built, between those volcanic ridges, a city with spires, towns, and steeples, with homes containing many inhabitants.(1) Soon after, in 1866, Brigham Young decided to establish a winter home in warm St. George. The house he chose is located in the northwest corner of First West and Second North and recorded as Block 30, Plot A, Lot 5.

Through the research of Paul Anderson, Associate Curator for Historical Sites for the L D S~ Church, the house has now been restored similar to the original home that Brigham Young lived in. Furniture, all authentic to the period, has been bought or donated by supporters of the home. The adobe brick house has been painted yellow and white, just as it was originally. There is now a white picket fence that runs around the big yard and garden, and the green lawn and large shade trees and mulberrys give the house a pleasant atmosphere. But before it reached its present state, the house changed ownership twenty-one times; thus, it has been a long and complicated history.

The original home contained the pantry, kitchen, dining room, maid*s bedroom and lady*s bedroom. It consisted of the entrance and back portion of the now restored home and was designed and built by James Chesney during 1869 and 1870.(2) The adobe walls are twelve inches thick, and the whole house sits on a lava stone foundation.(3) The property was purchased from J. Ivans Company on April 13, 1868, through a Surveyor*s Certificate.(4)

In August of the same year, Henry Lawrence bought the home from James Chesney who then sold it to Brigham Young, Jr., and it was then turned over to Brigham Young, Sr., in April of l872.(5) Off and on, Brigham Young lived there until he died, August 29, 1877, but his family continued living there until 1882.

Brigham Young and his family used the house only three to five months of the year to escape the harsh winters in Salt Lake City and because of his arthritis.(6) Brother Brigham sold the home to Hyram S. Young in 1873, but continued to operate the house and even to improve it until he bought it back in November of 1876. It is recorded as being bought for ten dollars which is what Hyram bought it for. (7) It is said that this transaction had to take place in order for Brigham Young to keep his property from being taken over by the state authorities who were looking to arrest Brigham Young for practicing polygamy. (8)

At that time, Brigham Young decided that his church duties were interfering with family life. To correct this situation, he built an office at the side of the winter home. This kept the church business separate from the family.(9)

In 1813, Brigham Young hired Miles Romney and his son Miles P. Romney as the architects and builders to add on to the house. This new portion consisted of a two-story front section. On the ground floor, he furnished a parlor where he could entertain. Square headed nails from the Cedar City Iron Works were used in the home, and the pine, from Pine Valley was hand grained to look like hardwood. Upstairs, Brigham Young had built one big room which served as his bedroom, sitting room, and study--all in one. Here, because he had trouble climbing stairs, Brigham Young slept and communicated with his associates in Salt Lake City by letters and telegrams. A smaller room to the east of his was used as an upstairs hall where one would wait to see him. (10) The rough cut 2x4*s, 2x8*s, 2x6*s, and 2x10*s used as rafters and ceiling joists, with pearling and knee braces were designed to carry 6 feet of snow. The floor joists are 2x12*s with 18 inch centers.(11)  It seems as though the house was architecturally well designed.

In June of 1878, the lot and house of Brigham Young were willed to Ella Elizabeth Young Emphey and M.H.Y. Conrad and other descendents of his family, trustees of Alonzo Young and Adella Elvira Young Minors, presumable brother and sister. (12) They sold the whole lot for $6000 to Ruthe Young Johnson, as recorded on October 3, 1878.(13)

 But she left the house vacant for almost a decade, and all of the priceless items inside the house were given away or sold by the Young family.(14)

Later, in 1892, Ruth Young Johnson Healy sold the house  to Jedediah M. Gates. Mr. Gates,(15) a dentist, had his office upstairs. According to Mrs. Beckstrom, everyone in St. George walked up the stairs at one time or another to get his teeth fixed.(16)  Mr. Gates* family lived downstairs in the house.(17)  Before dying, in November of 1946, Mr. Gates sold a portion of the land to Jedediah S. Mitchell. In the year 1948, Jedediah Gates* three daughters--Vera Gates Mitchell, Burnice Gates Bringhurst, and Grace Gates Higbee- -all received through a court action, in the absence of a will, an undivided portion of the land where the home stood.(18)

In July of 1955, two of the sisters, Mrs. Burnice Gates Bringhurst and Mrs. Grace Gates Higbee sold their portion of the house to Vera Gates Wood, the other daughter.(19) The house had been left empty and was in a state of disrepair until July 1959.(20) The house may have been rented out part of the time. Jed Mitchell sold the land to Gordon Clarridge Young and Virginia Daynes Young, descendants of Brigham Young, who tried to save the house.(21) There was talk of the houses being torn down and demolished till the Brigham Young Memorial Foundation gave the house to the State Parks and Recreations Department of Utah to have (the House) restored.(22)

On July 18, 1962, Gordon and Virginia Young sold their interest to the State Parks and Recreation Division who then operated the home until 1975.(23) While the State Parks and Recreation Division owned the house it built a carriage house behind the home in 1971. This carriage house, typical of that period, was built to store items and house the public restrooms.(24)

The house was then acquired by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints through an exchange of property.(25) The Church received the property in St. George; the State Parks received property in Salt Lake. The house has now been refinished and refurnished as one of the Church*s historical landmarks.

Every year, it is visited by many tourists and townspeople who receive a tour through this old, now famous house where, off and on, Brigham Young spent the last ten years of his life.

The house has been a historical success, and the Historical Society has given much time and expense to decorate the house for viewers. In the summer months and on most holidays, people come by the busloads to see the house. It is not unusual to have 500 people a day visit there. Even on regular winter days it receives an average of 70 people per day; in fact, there were 5100 visitors in April, 1981.(26) The     L D S. Church has done a beautiful job in restoring the house and repairing many of the artifacts. Though the windows throughout the house are still original, the house had been equipped with modern electrical heating, air conditioning and lights. Many many people think it is worthwhile to go and view it.

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