Brigham City retains its historic flavor

Jun 26 2010 - 12:46am


(Photo courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University) This photo shows the arch over the main thoroughfare through Brigham City.
(Standard-Examiner file photo)
(Photo courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University) This photo shows the arch over the main thoroughfare through Brigham City.
(Standard-Examiner file photo)

BRIGHAM CITY -- Drive into downtown Brigham City and you find a business district that is as vibrant as any other for a city its size along the Wasatch Front.

The city is defined by tree-lined streets and the two-story brick retail buildings with ornate wood trim framing the tops, exemplifying the architectural design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Though many of the businesses that were once inside those buildings have changed over the years, the historic flavor of the buildings themselves remains.

In September 2007, the city adopted historic downtown guidelines and established a redevelopment authority overlay for the historic downtown area. The purpose of the guidelines was to preserve the area's historic character so a physical reminder of Brigham City's heritage would be left.

The guidelines also aim to preserve the economic viability of the area.

Using the guidelines, Fowler Business Systems, 69 S. Main St., has brought a modern business of sales and service of copy machines and digital duplicators into the community while keeping the historic facade of the building intact.

"They did a first-class job in taking those guidelines and making a top-notch building," said Brigham City Community Economic Development Director Paul Larsen.

Just to the north of Fowler Business Systems is the old J.C. Penney Building, home to two businesses, Holmes CTR Clothing and Stuft Shirt Tuxedo Emporium.

Larsen said that building was restored before the city adopted its historic guidelines.

"Fortunately for us, the owner of that building (Ricks Knudsen) was already predisposed to renovating the building with a historic feel," Larsen said. The owner hand-painted the trim at the top of the building by standing in a truck-mounted cherry picker.

More recently, Davis and Bott Accounting has purchased land west of the Wells Fargo building at 5 North and Main Street as the site of a new building for the firm. Construction is expected to begin soon.

Larsen said the architecture of the new building will have many of the same elements as the Wells Fargo building, which served as the Mercantile Building for the Brigham City Cooperative in the 1870s.

Brigham City is fortunate that it has not seen the downtown blight that other smaller communities have seen in recent years.

"I think we are seeing a re-energizing of our downtown business district," Larsen said.

Recruiting businesses along Main Street has its own unique difficulties, as many national chains have their own guidelines for where they want to locate; however, small, single-owner entrepreneurial businesses seem to do well in the community.

"We have a lot of specialty shops that businesses can model," Larsen said. "We have Ricardo's Mexican Restaurant, Idle Isle CafA(c) that has been here since 1929, and Idle Isle Candy Company across the street that has national recognition.

"Holmes Clothing attracts customers from all over the state, and Village Dry Goods attracts quilting guilds from out of town."

Larsen said the city will work with business owners who want to relocate to the community.

"The city has a revolving loan fund," he said. "There is not much money in it, but we have helped businesses with downtown projects. We will work with businesses and their owners."

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