This is an archived article that was published on in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Desiring to protect its cultural legacy on State Street, Murray is seeking national recognition for its historic commercial district - a relic of the city's time as a boomtown smelter center.

Murray, along with three separate property owners from Logan to Salt Lake City, hopes to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The distinction would enable owners to seek state and federal tax credits to help with renovations.

The nomination for a Murray Downtown Historic District includes 54 buildings, most of them constructed between 1898 and 1930 after the railroad was extended from Salt Lake City. The train corridor spurred the development of smelters, which led to surging growth.

With the bulk of its significant buildings on State Street, Murray is the only city in Salt Lake County with its historic commercial heart on that thoroughfare.

"I hate to see everything of our history gone," said Newell Standley, a member of Murray's Historic Preservation Advisory Board, which is seeking the nomination. "There are some things that are not worth preserving, but there are other things that are part of our culture and heritage we need to hang on to."

Some notable structures in the proposed district include the Sheranian Clinic and Murray Mercantile. (Desert Star Theater is already on the national register.) The clinic is considered the most architecturally significant building, according to the nomination. It was built between 1927 and 1931 for a Turkish immigrant who became a notable Murray doctor.

The mercantile was built in 1899 and altered in 1953 with enamel and metal panels, just as several of the buildings were modernized in the 1950s. Mary Ann Kirk, Murray's cultural programs manager, hopes the property owner will tap the tax credits to restore the shop to its Victorian storefront glory.

"We're hoping that slipcover will come off and all the original windows will be exposed because it's just beautiful."

Kirk noted national recognition would not shield the buildings from demolition, but the city's new downtown historic district overlay zone does restrict razings and guides design of new structures.

The zone was approved last year as Intermountain Healthcare builds a five-hospital, 1.3 million-square-foot medical center on nearby land where historic smokestacks stood for copper smelting.

The two buildings nominated in Salt Lake City separately pay tribute to the capital's banking history, and to its association with the Seventh-day Adventists.

New owners of the 1912 Walker Bank Building, 175 S. Main, are seeking tax credits for a renovation that would remove an exterior canopy added in 1956 and cover extensive interior remodeling. One of the last structures built before World War I, it was seen as a "monument to the growth, progress and modernization of the city following Utah's acceptance as a state," according to the nomination.

What the building is most known for today are the neon red and blue lights that serve as a weather beacon to the valley. That tradition started in the 1950s when a tower stood on the roof for a radio and television station. The tower was removed in 1983 and it is now difficult to see the forecasting fixtures because of larger buildings nearby. The new owners plan to rebuild the 90-foot tower with a new "Walker Center" sign that will continue the climate-telling service.

The Seventh-day Adventists Meetinghouse and School, 1840 S. 800 East, is the oldest of the three such buildings in Utah. Built in 1928, it was the Adventists' main place of worship for 30 years, according to the nomination form. Now Galina Perova has her painting studio and home in the former church - a perfect place to listen to classical music and paint, said the Russian native. "I was always fascinated by something old, something historical. It's really a great feeling to be here."

She said she already has remodeled the interior - removing carpet, eliminating the dropped ceiling, adding living quarters downstairs. "It is very good to keep these buildings in great shape."

Near Logan, Chad Godfrey has a long-term lease from the U.S. Forest Service for a camp complex of 21 buildings on almost 3 acres.

The so-called Hatch's camp was built between 1915 and 1935 by a prominent Logan businessman. It later became a private summer retreat for businessmen, socialites and other "elites."

It has been mostly vacant since the 1990s, and Godfrey plans to restore it as a private retreat. "I've always loved it. It's just a great piece of property." The National Park Service is expected to decide by the end of October if the nominations make the national register.

Some 21,500 buildings in Utah are on the list, according to Cory Jensen, the National Register coordinator for the Utah State Historic Preservation Office.