The John and Margaret Price House was built in 1959 and is located at 2691 E. St. Mary’s Way. The house is a multi-level brick residence with a style most closely associated with Wrightian (Frank Lloyd Wright) Modern, particularly influenced by the horizontality of Wright’s Prairie School-style.
The Price House is significant for its association with the architect John N. Clawson and the landscape architect Karsten Hansen. John N. Clawson was a prominent Salt Lake City architect whose work was varied and eclectic within the Mid-Century Modern period. The property is also significant in the area of Landscape Architecture as collaboration between Clawson and Karsten Hansen, who was called the “Father of Utah Landscape Architecture” and designed over 600 properties during his career.
The Price House was designed by John “Jack” N. Clawson, a prominent Salt Lake City architect. John Neels Clawson was born on November 9, 1923, in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father died when Jack was four years-old and his mother, Nora Wiscomb Clawson, raised three boys on her own. During World War II, Jack Clawson served as an officer in the US Navy. He earned a B.A. in Business from the University of Utah. In 1951, Jack Clawson was a member of the first graduating class of the School of Architecture at the University of Utah, and later furthered his studies at Harvard University. Jack Clawson started his own firm in 1954 just a couple of blocks away from his childhood home. Like most of his contemporaries who began to practice in the 1950s, Jack Clawson’s work was influenced by the Modern style. Clawson designed a number of modern-style LDS Church meetinghouses during this era. Examples include the Nephi 3rd Ward designed in 1959, which features a curved wall of rock face, and the Genoa Ward (1972) with a more modest brick edifice.
During the 1960s, Jack Clawson designed a several financial institutions in the Modern style. Examples include the Murray First Thrift & Loan (1967), the Capital City State Bank (1968), and the Provo branch of the Prudential Federal Savings & Loan (1967). From his impressive oeuvre, Jack Clawson’s personal favorites were the Tracy Aviary’s South American Pavilion in Liberty Park (1968-1969), the School of Nursing at the University of Utah (1970), and the IBM Building #2 (1981). The latter being a collaborative work with a Denver-based firm, and is one of the best examples of Modern Brutalism in Salt Lake City. During a career that spanned six decades, Jack Clawson also served on the Salt Lake City Planning Commission and the Board of Examiner’s & Appeals. John N. “Jack” Clawson died on September 2, 2010.
Despite the obvious references to Wrightian architecture, the Price House is not a reproduction of the past. The interior has all the elements of a Ranch-style Modern design. A write-up in the Home Magazine section of the Salt Lake Tribune described the house in 1962 as “Four Levels of Loveliness.” The article noted that “The family-den is completely open to viewing from the dining room and kitchen above so mom can keep a watchful eye on the baby by merely peeking around a corner rather than walking downstairs.” In addition to the open floor plan, the house included a built-in bar and magazine rack, a floor-to-ceiling double fireplace, and a living room that opens to the rear patio and yard.
The Price House is also the first National Register of Historic Places nomination for the landscape architect, Karsten Hansen. With over 600 designs to his credit, he is known as the “Father of Landscape Architecture” in Utah. Karsten Frank Hansen, Sr., was born in Wisconsin on June 3, 1911. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1923 with a degree in landscape architecture. He was employed by the National Park Service and the US Forest Service in California before moving to Utah to work at the US Naval Depot in Clearfield. He owned the Pines Landscape Nursery in Centerville, Utah, where he made his home, and served on the Centerville Planning Commission.
Kartsen Hansen was the landscape architect for a number of important and iconic public buildings, including the Federal Building, the LDS Church Office Building, the Utah State Capitol expansion, the State Fairgrounds (all in Salt Lake City), Dixie College (St. George), and the College of Eastern Utah (Price).
Whether it was designing a gun range on the foothills above Salt Lake City or a garden as a living map of Utah on the roof of a parking garage at the State Capitol, Karsten Hansen understood how landscapes changed over time. The Price House is an excellent example of one of his philosophies: “You should have a play area for small children close to the house where mother can observe them from a window. Later, this could be changed to another garden feature when the children are grown.” In the design of the Price House, greenery is provided from every window view, the kitchen window looks out over a sheltered lawn, and the concrete sandbox is labeled as a future fountain on the drawing of the plan.
The Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission will hear public comments at their next meeting, October 2, 2014, and the Board of State History will review the National Register nomination during their October 16, 2014, meeting prior to submittal to the National Park Service.
Source of text and images: Utah Division of State History Price Nomination