There are currently more than 50 buildings along Midvale’s Main Street, on the blocks north of Center Street. Most of these buildings are quite old,with 73% of them built before World War 2 and the oldest built in 1901. There was a lull in construction on Main Street during the 45 years between 1955 and 2000 with only one building remaining from that period. Building activity has picked up since then with seven new buildings since 2001, the newest being the Senior Citizens Center and the City Hall/Justice Court complex, completed in 2014. This recent momentum for Main Street reinvestment is encouraging, but what can be done with so many historic buildings?
There are many reasons to preserve old buildings, especially on a historic Main Street. Old buildings are made out of durable construction materials and with finer craftsmanship than most modern buildings. The old growth forests and hardwoods that fueled the construction boom before World War 2 are now very rare or no longer exist. People and businesses are attracted to old buildings. The warmth of the materials, classic architectural elements, and unique spaces and styles provide cozy familiar places that patrons prefer in non-chain stores like bookstores, barber shops, restaurants, and even start-up shops. These old buildings tell the long and unique story of Midvale’s Main Street and simply cannot be replaced once they are demolished.
What does it take to preserve historic buildings? It all depends on how each building was built and how well it has been maintained over the years. The more expensive preservation efforts include reinforcing the building’s structure and updating its plumbing, electrical, and heating/cooling systems. Less expensive efforts include updating fixtures and finish materials like wall coverings, flooring, and windows. Sometimes these modernization activities reveal hidden treasures such as ornamental woodwork and glass work that has been covered over for decades. The condition of the historic buildings on Main Street vary from building to building so the cost of preserving them will vary as well. Reinvestment into these beautiful old buildings can modernize them to meet the needs of future tenants and preserve them as part of Midvale’s historic Main Street for all to enjoy.
References: Salt Lake County Assessor, National Trust for Historic Preservation