Fort Douglas Heritage Commons
Since historic Fort Douglas was transferred to the University of Utah in 1991, the university has committed itself to transforming the fort into a unique living environment that fosters a community of learning. Integral to this vision has been the renovation of valuable historic resources at the fort and their integration into university life.
The four historic preservation projects Utah Heritage Foundation is recognizing this year are the result of the devotion of many university leaders, extensive private fundraising, and the talents of numerous architects and contractors. These renovation projects make Fort Douglas Heritage Commons one of the nation's premiere student living facilities and preserve a treasured piece of Utah's history.
Fort Douglas Chapel
Built in 1884, the Fort Douglas Chapel was the longest continuously operating military chapel in the United States Army before it was closed in 1991. When the University of Utah acquired the building, the worship space, exterior siding, foundation, heating, and electrical systems were all in poor condition.
The renovation returned the chapel's interior to its original configuration as a simple open space that permits many types of religious services. The large worship platform from the 1950s was replaced with a smaller platform that can be made level with the surrounding floor using a lift. Exterior projects included repairing and repainting the wood siding in an historically-appropriate color scheme and re-installing decorative trim based on early photographs.
The chapel now serves as a place of reflection and worship for many denominations in the residential community at the University of Utah.
Fort Douglas Post Theater
As part of its efforts to create an exciting student residential area, the University of Utah renovated and updated the neglected 1932 Fort Douglas Post Theater. The theatre's exterior elements were carefully repaired to halt deterioration and preserve their historic appearance. For example, the suspended front canopy was structurally upgraded and the original soffit and decorative lighting replicated.
The interior renovation creatively addressed ADA concerns, integrated new state-of-the-art audio/visual systems, and preserved historic finishes. Though the original simulated marble wall panels in the lobby were deemed hazardous materials and removed, decorative painters successfully replicated the original patterns.
The theater was heavily used during the 2002 Winter Olympics and now contributes to the vitality of student life at Fort Douglas Heritage Commons.
Fort Douglas Officers' Club
The Officers' Club, a fixture of Fort Douglas life since 1875, has been rehabilitated as a multi-use conference center for the University of Utah. The building's front facade featuring attractive Victorian trim was restored to its original appearance. The rest of the original masonry building was cleaned and treated to extend its longevity.
The historic portions of the interior were restored and new finishes designed to match original materials. A new sympathetic addition replaced incompatible additions made to the rear of the club over the years and makes the building ADA accessible.
Located on one of the main paths connecting Fort Douglas and the university campus, the renovated Officers' Club enhances the historic atmosphere and functionality of Fort Douglas Heritage Commons.
Fort Douglas Commander's Residence
The Fort Douglas Commander's Residence was built in 1875 and originally served as an officers barracks. About 1913 it was converted to the Post Commander's Residence. The University of Utah has adapted the historic residence for use as a conference center.
The existing large living/ dining room with a beautiful beamed ceiling serves as the main conference room. The interior walls separating the bedrooms and bathrooms were demolished to create three additional conference rooms. A state-of-the-art audio/ video system was installed to allow for modem, multimedia presentations. On the exterior, the building's masonry was carefully cleaned and the mortar repaired. This adaptive use project is representative of the University of Utah's careful efforts to integrate historic resources into a university complex serving modem needs.