LAYTON — If you’ve lived in Layton for any significant stretch of time, you probably remember the old Dansie’s Market.
And even if you’re relatively new to the city, you’re likely familiar with the unique, circular-front building that the business was last housed in. Surrounded by many residential homes and visible from the freeway, the Davis County landmark stands out near the intersection of Main Street and Fort Lane.
Some longtime Laytonites might find it hard to believe, but the old market has been closed for almost 50 years now. But an exhibit at the Heritage Museum of Layton is offering residents a chance to step back in time and revisit the place that many hold dear to their heart.
According to information from the museum, Dansie’s Market first opened in Layton in 1925. The store was run by Robert and Llewellyn Dansie and was essentially the city’s first convenience store. Museum Curator Annie Bommer said the shop was stocked with grocery staples like bread, milk, cheese and ice cream and also operated as a single-pump gas station and sold Firestone tires.
Back when it opened, the road the market is located on was part of U.S. 91, which along with U.S. 89 served as the main thoroughfare between Ogden and Salt Lake prior to the emergence of Interstate 15. U.S. 91 at the Dansie’s spot has since been converted to State Route 126, part of Layton’s Main Street.
Bommer said the location helped make the market popular to locals as well as for people passing through the area. The Dansies expanded their operation a few years after opening, adding two new overhead gas pumps. They also began selling beer, sporting goods, shoes and clothing. The building was remodeled in 1947 to the configuration it’s still in today. After nearly 50 years in business, the Dansies closed the store in 1972.
Robert and Llewellyn’s son Jay Dansie, a well-known Davis School District teacher, principal and administrator, helped run the store during his younger years. Jay Danise passed away in March 2019 at the age of 92. The family contacted the museum after Jay Dansie died, donating a treasure trove of historical items from the store. Bommer said the items include a portion of the original bar at the market, dishes, merchandise stands and even a refrigerator from the 1950s.
Local artist Laurel Bitton has painted a mural of the original 1920s version of the store to serve as the backdrop for the exhibit.
“We think people are going to enjoy the exhibit,” Bommer told the Standard-Examiner. “It was kind of the first convenient store in the area. And a lot of people in this area really have fond memories of going to buy bread with their parents or buying fishing licenses. There’s definitely a strong connection to the store and to the Dansies.”
Bitton, a lifelong, multigenerational resident of Layton, agreed with Bommer. Bitton, who graduated with an art degree from Weber State University, painted the mural at the museum, drawing inspiration from the historical artifacts that surrounded her.
“It was interesting painting it at the museum, with all of that history behind you,” Bitton said. “You could kind of just take it all in and paint.”
Bitton hopes her mural, along with the donated artifacts, will transport museum visitors into Layton’s past.
“Hopefully people will get a real sense of being there, on that road,” she said. “I want people to be able to go back in time a little bit and be there, even if it’s just for a minute.”
The Heritage Museum of Layton opened in August 1980. It features a collection of more than 2,400 artifacts, nearly 4,000 historical photographs, 2,900 archival documents and hundreds of books. The museum is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturdays.