The establishment of Fort Douglas on the east bench of the Salt Lake valley brought new challenges to the residents of the fort. One of the basic needs was a reliable source of drinking water. To resolve this, a small reservoir was built by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers in Red Butte Canyon in 1929. Located just east of the fort, this canyon was the perfect place to gather the annual spring runoff and conserve it for year round use. A small brick Valve House was constructed over concrete basins to facilitate the mixing of chlorine and other chemicals to treat the water before consumption. Large pipes at the bottom of the main basin controlled the flow of water and diverted it to the reservoir or through a series of pipes that led directly to Fort Douglas.
With the later development of City supplied water, the Valve House remained unused for over 50 years, falling into disrepair with significant settling of the masonry, roof damage, maintenance modifications and vandalism. In 2005, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, with the help of the Utah State Historic Preservation Office, began a major rehabilitation of the Valve House, related out-buildings, and water work features to secure their preservation.
Among the many improvements made to these buildings, they were made seismically sound, the masonry was repaired, foundations were stabilized, and the roofs repaired. The preservation efforts for these buildings, although not required for use, have been completed in good faith to save a vital part of Utah history.
Utah Heritage Foundation presented the Central Utah Water Conservancy District with a Heritage Award for the rehabilitation of the Red Butte Valve House and surrounding outbuildings.
Project Architect: Charles Shepherd, MJSA Architecture
General Contractor: Paulsen Construction