Washington County Historical Society holds walking tour of Ancestor Square

George's Corner in Ancestor Square, St. George, Utah, Dec. 4, 2020 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Ancestor Square developer Brooks Pace will lead a walking tour of the Ancestor Square block, the second in a series of four downtown historic district walking tours sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society.

Image courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society, St. George News

The free tour on March 13 begins at 11 a.m. near the Sandstone Building in the Ancestor Square plaza area directly west of the Pizza Factory. RSVP on SignUpGenius or scan the QR code included with this article. Tour participants with vehicles are encouraged to use the Ancestor Square parking lot at 2 W. St. George Blvd. Participants should wear walking shoes, bring a jacket for cool weather and wear a mask for COVID compliance.

Participants will learn unique bits of history about various historic buildings along the tour. The buildings include George’s Corner, which opened in 2010. The restaurant’s website states that George Pace owned and operated the Big Hand Café, which stood on this same corner during the 1930s and 1940s. The Big Hand Café was the center of town, the gathering spot, the place where news was shared.

Tour participants will also gain insights on the Augustus and Elizabeth Hardy House, 46 W. St. George Blvd., built in 1871 by Sheriff Augustus Hardy. This house was slightly remodeled by a bullet during one Wild West incident where a group of vigilantes broke into the house. Gardner’s Club Hall, 50 W. St. George Blvd., is one of the oldest public buildings still in use in St. George. The Old Jail House, a black lava rock structure, was reportedly used as a one-room jail – though that story is disputed by a retired St. George Police deputy chief.

The Sandstone Building is one of a half-dozen structures built in St. George from leftover rock from the Tabernacle in the 1860s. The Pizza and Pasta Factory, 2 W. St. George Blvd., opened in 1979 and is now famous for pizza and twisted breadsticks served in a vase on a stick. Café Feel Love Coffee Shop, 2 W. St. George Blvd., opened in October 2020 in what once housed Basila’s Restaurant and later Panama Grill. The metal beams and adobe are original to the building.

The Morris-Grundy House, 151 N. Main St., was built in 1901 by 70-year-old widow and England native Emma Packer Morris. The Samuel and Esther Miles Jr. House, 173 N. Main St., was built between 1876 and 1883. The building is currently occupied by The Mission Gallery. The Dr. William Randall and Pike House, 189 N. Main St., was built circa 1915 by St. George Mayor Albert E. Miller for Pike, a native of England and a graduate of Burlington Medical College in Vermont.

The Authentique Gallery of Art and Design, 199 N. Main St., and Illume Gallery of Fine Art, 29 W. 200 North, are both owned by Jane Bell Myer. Tour participants will also see Brigham Young’s winter home at 67 W. 200 North. Young became St. George’s first “snowbird” leaving the cold behind to spend the winters in the temperate climate of Southern Utah.

The William H. Thompson/Adolphus and Mary Whitehead/Floyd C. Stevens House was built in 1871 by Thompson. The home had 16-inch-thick adobe walls and wood floors. It is currently known as the Thompson Mansion. The Edwin and Mary Woolley/Foster House, 217 N. 100 West, was built in 1873 by next-door neighbor George Whitehead for the Woolleys. The home was one of the finest in St. George. It is currently known as the Mulberry Inn and formerly the Seven Wives Inn.

The George and Esther Whitehead House, 241 N. 100 West, is currently occupied by The Cottage bed and breakfast. George Whitehead built this home in 1883 for his bride, Esther Jane Morris. The Erastus “Ras” and Josephine Whitehead House, 278 N. 100 West, was also built in the early 1880s by George Whitehead for his younger brother and his wife.

The Dr. Israel and Anna Ivins House, 187 N. 100 West, is currently occupied by Randall and Mellen, attorneys at law. Ivins, St. George’s first practicing physician, built and lived in this home. The Anthony and Elizabeth Ivins House, 165 N. 100 West, was built in 1875 by Anthony W. Ivins. In 1894, when the LDS Church called him to assist in its colonizing project in Mexico, he sold his home to Thomas Gardner.

The Joe “Jode” Burgess House, 172 N. 100 West, is currently occupied by Engel and Volkers Real Estate. This home is constructed of a lava block foundation, concrete block walls and wood frame. The tour also features the Mose and Orpha Andrus house at 139 N. 100 West. In 1892, Mose Andrus finished the rock foundation of this home, then left it to “cure” for a year, a reason why the foundation is void of cracks. It is currently occupied by At the Crossroads, a coed young adult transitional living program.

Travel Lodge and Trafalga Restaurant, 76 W. St. George Blvd., opened sometime between 1961 and 1972. Until about 2019, the Inn of St. George occupied the original Travel Lodge motel, while the St. George Bicycle Collective occupied the former Trafalga Restaurant. Both businesses vacated the premises at the request of city officials, who have other development plans for the property.

Succeeding tours of the downtown historic district will be held on April 10 for the Green Gate Village block and on May 8 for the Town Square block.

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