Manti City Hall Restoration Project Receives Eccles Grant – Press Release 7/7/2003

DATE 7/7/2003 4:55 PM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Manti City Hall Restoration Project Receives Eccles Grant

The restoration of Manti’s Old City Hall building received a boost recently in the form of a $28,000 grant from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation.The grant will be used to finish interior and begin exterior improvements on the historic structure. The Eccles family is the most generous family, says Shannon Miller, chair of the Manti Historic Preservation Commission. They saw the value of keeping and renovating this beautiful building.

Built around 1870, the Old City Hall building had been neglected and deteriorated over the years, and was most recently used as a storage facility. Under the guidance of the Manti commission, the Destiny Committee, and volunteer Vern Buchanan, the Italianate structure is being lovingly restored. It’s an architecturally significant building, there aren’t too many structures of this kind left in the state, Miller says. There were a lot of people who wanted to restore it, but nothing was being done officially. Vern just stepped up and said I’ll do it.

Inside, the building will include a visitors and U.S. Highway 89 travel center, a museum and restrooms on the main floor, and a reception hall and caterers kitchen upstairs. Much of the interior work has already been completed, Miller says. Outside, efforts are underway to restore details such as a widow’s walk, the low-pitched hipped roof and decorative bracketed eves, along with repairing wood work and windows.

The Eccles grant is the latest support the project received. In March, the restoration committee received a $6,000 grant from the Utah Division of State History’s Certified Local Governments Program. It also received a grant from Exxon Mobile, thanks to the efforts of volunteer Alan Justesen. He contributed more than 60 hours of slave labor’ to the project, and his company matched his efforts with a financial contribution, Miller says. There have been a lot of miracles that have made this project possible.

In addition to Buchanan and Justesen, Miller says numerous volunteers have spent countless hours on the effort, including Susan Carter, one of the original project supporters; Manti City Manager Bill Nicholson; and cabinet maker Gary Bringhurst. All of the volunteers have been so enthusiastic, it’s just remarkable, Miller says. They are the reason we’ve been able to do so much with so little. For example, she says a local resident stopped by to see the project, admired the original, but worn wood floors and offered to sand and restore them.

All of these angels just keep flying down, Miller says In addition to the Old City Hall restoration, the Manti Historic Preservation Commission is backing other projects in the city, especially efforts to find a location for a community swimming pool. We are supportive of all of the volunteer efforts in this community, Miller says. Our goal is for people to see and understand how important these projects are to our community and city.

The Manti commission is considered one of the chapter’s of the reorganized Utah Heritage Highway Alliance. The Alliance, which includes members from Sanpete, Kane, Wayne, Garfield, Sevier and Piute counties, has a goal of preserving the historic highway U.S. 89 and using the counties’ unique heritage as a promotion tool.

Indeed, Miller says that one of the Manti group’s goals is to publicize the value of putting resources into preservation instead of demolition. We want to show people how preservation relates to ordinary people, she says.  We want to explain the tax benefits and recognition that you can get when you restore a historic structure. The commission also wants to educate people about the role such buildings can play in establishing a community’s identity and contribute to its economic development.

For more information Contact:Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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