The Nelson Wheeler Whipple House

Nelson Wheeler Whipple Home

The Whipple House

(Signature Books editorial offices) is a two-story adobie brick and stucco residence built in 1854 by Nelson Wheeler Whipple at a cost of approximately $2,000. Whipple was a Mormon immigrant from New York who arrived in Salt Lake City in 1850. “I found very few of my old acquaintances in the city,” he wrote after arriving in the valley, “and those I did find seemed as cold as cucumbers and I did not trouble them much. In a short time I could not get the lot I was on so I inquired what course I should take to obtain one. I was informed that Heber C. Kimball wanted some of us to come every Saturday and he gave the lots to each one as it seemed him good, and they paying one dollar and a half could have their lots. My lot was located where my house now stands. “I did as I was told and a lot was set off to me in the nineteenth ward . . . I was directed by Brother Bullock where to find it and on my way there I found Father Alger who told me where the lot was and I went and saw it and found it half covered with water. I saw by this I was not going to be able to do anything with the lot that fall, if ever I did. When I was returning back to my wagon I found Peter Nebeker, who recognized me, although I did not know him. He enquired what I was going to do. I told him that it was a hard question. He offered me work all winter and to build me a house, etc. This I considered more like a friend than any I had met within the city. I took him up at his offer and went and removed my wagon over near his house and camped upon the very spot where my house now stands although I did not think of building for several years after that. . . . “In September [1854] I commenced to build house 28 feet X 35 feet and two stories high of adobies. It contained twelve rooms in all; two front rooms . . . with a hall six feet wide between them which led to a back kitchen 16 feet X 9 feet, and a small buttry, one bedroom below in the northeast corner 9 feet square. Above was one room 9 feet X 10 feet, one room 14 1/2 feet X 12 1/2 feet, one room 9 feet square, one room 10 feet X 9 feet, a grainery 9 feet X 10 feet, it took eight cords of rock for the foundation and about 25,000 adobies, about 7,000 feet of lumber, and 10,000 shingles.” Whipple worked as a policeman, gunsmith, carpenter, cabinet maker, and superintendent of the Municipal Bath House. He also operated a shingle mill in Cottonwood Canyon, supplying shingles for the Tabernacle and other public and ecclesiastical structures at $12 per thousand shingles. He married three women as plural wives with whom he raised seventeen children. His journals were serialized in the 1930s in the Improvement Era. The Whipple residence has classical details in the roof cornice and frieze, window hoods, and the main door with sidelights. It is the oldest continuously inhabited residence in the Salt Lake Valley. Since its construction was carefully documented by Whipple, it is especially valuable as a window to early Utah building practices.

Signature Books conference room

The conference room on the east-side main floor. Photograph by Tillman Crane