Thursday, April 23, 2009

dooly building

(Dooly building on the right shown in context with Hotel Ontario to the left. The Inland Architect and News Record, Nov 1891, Vol XVIII, No. 4)

The Dooly building (often called Dooly block) is one of the most significant architectural buildings built in Salt Lake. The building was designed by the Chicago firm of Adler & Sullivan, of which Louis Sullivan, of skyscraper fame, was the designer. This building design played a role in the development of the skyscraper. “And in the extruded arches of the 1890 Dooly Block, Sullivan recessed the spandrels, taking the piers almost straight from top to bottom. From here to the skyscraper was not a giant step.” (Louis Sullivan: His Life and Work, page 292) Designed in beautiful context with the Ontario Hotel, the two were to rise together. Fortunately, when the Ontario Hotel never materialized past the foundations, the Dooly building was actually completed in 1892. Located on 200 South and West Temple, the building met an early and unfortunate demolition in 1965.

Richard Nickel, a photographer from Chicago fought valiantly to save the Dooly building, but ultimately failed. He was, however, successful in documenting both this building and the Ontario hotel foundations in photographs which are in possession of 'The Richard Nickel Committee and Archive'. (They all Fall Down, page 85) As of today, I have been unable to obtain access to any of these images.

“Nickel fought any way he could. To Salt Lake City mayor J. Bracken Lee, Nickel protested plans to tear down Sullivan’s Dooly Block. ‘How many buildings of equal architectural merit do you have in Salt Lake City? Instead of being proud of this building, you ignore it. Instead of offering tax relief to the owner, or cleaning the neighborhood up, the city government is silent.’” (They All Fall Down, page 134)

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First we need to look at the building from construction through to completion and then to demolition. The book 'Louis Sullivan: His Life and Work' compares the Dooly building design to that of the landmark Wainwright Building of St. Louis. “Wainwright an almost exact contemporary of the Dooly Block in Salt Lake City, in many ways a similar edifice, which Adler & Sullivan completed in December.” (page 286)

Presented below is a newspaper timeline of the Dooly building from the Salt Lake Tribune. From it we learn that Utah architect, Richard Kletting who designed the State Capitol, drew the construction documents for the building after it was designed by Adler & Sullivan. We also learn that the building will be home to a bank, post office, Alta club w/restaurant and fireplace, two elevators, and many offices. If only the images of the building weren't black and white, we would be able to see the beautiful red sandstone used, similar to that of the Wainwright building.

(Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)


The Dooly Building
Mr. Dooly expects to break ground for the new post office in a day or two. He is waiting for the completion of the plans of the street grade. (Salt Lake Tribune 13 Aug 1890)

R. Kletting has just completed the drawings and working plans for the Dooly building on Second South and West Temple streets to the order of Adler & Sullivan, the Chicago architects, who deputed him to do this work. The post office and the bank will be on the first floor, while the other five floors will be given over for business offices, about 180 in all. The contract will be given out in a short time. (Salt Lake Tribune 14 Sep 1890)

The Dooly Excavation
Excavating for the Dooly building will be finished within a few days. Work on the foundation has already begun. (Salt Lake Tribune 01 Oct 1890)

Photographs of the Dooly building have been made. They show that it will be a decided ornament to the town. (Salt Lake Tribune 07 Oct 1890)

The bids for the construction of the Dooly Block were opened yesterday. The Probst Construction Company are said to be the successful bidders. (Salt Lake Tribune 16 Apr 1891)

The contract was signed yesterday for the completion of the Dooly building with the Probst Construction Company to be completed in ten months. The building is to be of Diamond Creek stone, six stories high, two elevators and with all modern improvements. (Salt Lake Tribune 21 Apr 1891)

Work is progressing rapidly on the Dooly building. The stone columns for the first story are up and the second-joists will be down in a few days. The big steam derricks are constantly at work, the men are busy and the building will be pushed until []. (Salt Lake Tribune 17 Jun 1891)

(Construction of Dooly Building with Architects and Engineers. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, All Rights Reserved. Image #725.2/29963)

The Dooly Block
It is understood that the Papst Construction Company of Chicago have secured the job of finishing up the four lower stories of the Dooly building. The two upper stories will be contracted for later on. The building is the most pretentious in the Territory, and will cost $250,000 when ready for occupancy. (Salt Lake Tribune 23 Sep 1891)

The sixth story of the Dooly building is now going up, so that before snow flies everything will be under cover. (Salt Lake Tribune 30 Sep 1891)

The big boilers for the Dooly block have been lowered into the basement and they will soon have the furnaces finished around them and be ready for heating the building. Because of the cold weather, work of completing this building goes on much slower than the owners like it to do. (Salt Lake Tribune 24 Jan 1892)

The steam plant in the Dooly building was tested yesterday, so that steam can be turned on most any time this week. (Salt Lake Tribune 14 Feb 1892)

It Is Approaching Completion and Is a Very Fine Structure
The great Dooly building is approaching completion, and citizens who have been over it speak highly of the interior arrangements. There are some 185 rooms in the building, with forty-five on the fourth floor and twenty-three on the upper floor where the Alta Club is to have its new home. A noticeable feature of the structure is that all of it is well lighted, including the ground floor apartments, and the rear rooms especially are commodious and well arranged. The Alta Club will have one of the finest dining-rooms in the West when the quarters are ready, one of the features being a great fire place, of the kind now so popular among the clubs of the country. The fittings of the building generally are of oiled oak, with high wainscotings and massive doors, though in part of the lower story marble will be used. The building is equipped with the latest improved elevators, and is steam heated. The plaster work is rough, and in tints of red and drab. When the building is completed it will be one of the finest structures in the entire West. (Salt Lake Tribune 06 May 1892)

(Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

The Dooly building contractor is now laying the iron rods and beams in front of the building so that the sidewalk may be laid at an early date. (Salt Lake Tribune 10 May 1892)

The vestibule of the Dooly building is about finished, and it is a grand affair with its handsome marble tiling floor, marble wainscotting, double sets of doors and the two elevators. (Salt Lake Tribune 03 Jun 1892)

There is much activity around the Dooly building where many lawyers and business people are moving into the building. (Salt Lake Tribune 05 Jun 1892)

It is stated that the elevators in the Dooly building will be in running order early next week. The painter is getting in his work at the new building now, and all the office doors are being handsomely lettered. (Salt Lake Tribune 17 Jun 1892)

The elevators in the Dooly building are making trial trips now. (Salt Lake Tribune 26 Jun 1892)

A number of persons with plenty of leisure time rode in the elevator at the Dooly building yesterday, but in a short time they will both be in first-class shape and will make quick trips. (Salt Lake Tribune 29 Jun 1892)

The building was included in the Historic American Buildings Survey which provides us valuable information. The two images below are the only I was able to find showing the back of the building. This gives us some clues as to the shape of the building plan. Two jogs are shown, giving essentially a 'W' shaped plan. This was most likely done to provide natural daylight to as much of the building interior spaces as possible.

(Demolition of Dooly Building, Jan-Feb 1965. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, All Rights Reserved. Dooly/Riser Photo Collection, Mss C 1532)

(Demolition of Dooly Building, Jan-Feb 1965. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, All Rights Reserved. Dooly/Riser Photo Collection, Mss C 1532)

Finally we have a 'funeral wake' article from the Salt Lake Tribune on its demolition, published on 30 Aug 1964:

Knell Tolls for Illustrious Dooly Building
By Robert H. Woody
Tribune Staff Writer

Hang down your head, Tom Dooly
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooly
Cause your building’s gone bye and bye.

"A good building merits something more than the routine account when the death knell is sounded. Let’s just call this a wake for the Dooly Building at 109 W. 2nd South.

The designer was Louis Sullivan, famed Chicago architect. His credo – 'Form follows function' bent the direction of American architecture. His pioneering in use of steel for structural systems gave birth to the skyscraper. His apprentice, Frank Lloyd Wright, carried his own architectural torch in the world.

Mr. Sullivan came West in 1890 as the reputation of his firm was spreading nationwide. He had four western buildings on the boards: the Dooly Building – or Dooly Block as it was called; the Hotel Ontario which was to have been built just south of the Dooly Bldg., and then Opera House Blocks in Pueblo and Seattle.

The Hotel was never completed. It is said that Sullivan designed the lower part, which is now part of the Terminal Building. The top was someone else’s idea. Whatever, it also will be razed with the Dooly Building.

The building was named for John E. Dooly, one of the original owners and developers, a banker and livestock and real estate figure.

Its husky foundations were laid pyramid fashion. Red Butte sandstone cut from the hills behind Ft. Douglas was used for the fa├žade. Inside a structural steel skeleton – a first for its time – supported the wooden floor joists. Sandwiched between the lower floors was cinder aggregate to serve both as fire protection and as sound barrier.

The Sullivan touch was throughout the building. Pier and lintel, and Roman arch and richly decorated cornice were uniquely his, whether in Chicago or Salt Lake City. Each column was hollow. This was for a flue for the potbellied stoves that kept tenants warm against January’s winds.

Distinguished tenants included the U.S. post office (on the bottom floor) and Alta Club (on the sixth floor).

The Architects who created the II Century Plan for downtown Salt Lake City put the building on their list as one worthy of preservation. Credit to the designer: It’s a sound building yet. But is it a great building? Will there be pickets bearing 'Save the Dooly Building' signs? It’s doubtful. It’s a good building, but not the most distinguished of Sullivan’s works. The identity with Sullivan is its most redeeming value.

Owner R. Verne McCullough spent $87,000 putting in a new elevator five years ago and $22,000 in a new heating system two years ago. But tenancy had dropped markedly since the heyday. Operations loss now ran between $15,000 and $25,000 yearly, said Mr. McCullough. The building had to go.

It’s just one of those sad facts of life."

(Demolition. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, All Rights Reserved. Image #725.2/5476)

If only Robert Woody, author of that last Tribune article, could see what is standing on the block in its place today...

View Larger Map
Present-day view of site: Shilo Inn Hotel instead of Dooly Building


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  2. Great stuff! I wasn't around when the Dooly Building was demolished, but I have heard many stories, especially from longtime Utah preservationists who consider it the Salt Lake equivalent of Penn Station - the loss laying the groundwork for the preservation movement in Utah.

  3. Those demolition photos are painful, after you've introduced me to the building and made me care about it.

    Your posts are like mini-biographies of living -- or once-living -- Salt Lakers. Thanks for sharing your research with us in this delightful way.

  4. I realise this was posted more than a year ago, but I just found it. My greatgrandfather, John Henry White, and his father, William White, were business partners with John Dooley. Together they owned Antelope Island and ran cattle there in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I know White and Sons Livestock had offices in the Dooley building. I've been looking for more information on John Dooley and photos of him. I loved your post about the building and am saddened that it no longer stands.

  5. William W. Louie, AIA, ArchitectOctober 27, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    Among the tenants of the Dooley Building over many years, were the prominent architectural offices of Scott & Welch, Carl W. Scott, Scott & Beecher, and Scott & Louie.

    The offices of Scott & Louie, were on the northeast corner of the sixth floor, with a great view of Second South, and the Havana Bar. When the building was scheduled to be demolished, some of our staff removed and smuggled out the classic building clock. It was wrapped in a blanket, and brought down the elevator, down to the lobby. It served as our timepiece in our office for many years. The building's Minneapolis-Honeywell thermostat, was saved, and now hangs on the wall in my home.

    On the day leading to demolition, our office had a memorable bash; one that we will never forget.
    We even invited some of the customers of the Havana Bar over for farewell drinks.

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