December 20, 2013

Truly Horrifying Government: Salt Lake City's Haunted City and County Building

Photos copyright grant_loy via Flickr.
One of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Salt Lake City is also reportedly quite haunted. The City and County Building has always been at the center of controversy in the area, from the time it was originally proposed in 1880 and even more-so when construction began finally in 1890. It was first seen as a symbol of the wasteful extravagance of the dominant Mormon church, but then was taken over by the Liberal Party in the area, who went ahead with construction so they could create a government building that would equal the Salt Lake Temple only a few blocks away. For reasons never recorded and that nobody remembers, the original build site had to be scrubbed and a new site selected, which lead to more controversy.

The new site of the building was called Washington Square, which was a ten acre plot that had been used for a variety of outdoor gatherings. The building that rose there had Gothic architecture of the type you don't commonly see in Utah, complete with spires and statues many suspect were to mimic or outdo the spires and statue on the nearby temple. When construction was completed, the building cost about $900,000 even though the original bid was for under $400,000.

So far I haven't been able to find any definitive records of deaths that happened in the building, although some allege two children died when they fell down garbage chutes during construction, which were later turned into elevator shafts, and that then their mother killed herself in the same manner to be with her children. There's also a story of a dog that was brutally beaten on the site, but details have the scarceness of detail that urban legends are made of. The dog story is fueled by people who claim to have heard disembodied growling in the building, but that coupled with other reported activity could point toward a demonic presence in the building. It's also possible that some people died on the site back when it was used as a reception area for freshly-arrived pioneers. Regardless, plenty of people have shared experiences they've had in the building. These range from cold spots and the sense that someone is watching them, to some individuals being pushed while going down stairs or one paranormal investigator who was scratched on the back.

I'm sure the building has picked up quite a bit of energy over its 100 plus year existence, having been the site where the Utah Constitution was framed and hosting quite a number of emotionally-charged trials, including famous homicides. Considering that a building project in the not too distant past unearthed some unmarked pioneer graves mere blocks from the City and County building, I wouldn't rule out that there are dead bodies laid to rest near or even under the building's foundation. Whatever is the case, quite a few Salt Lake City employees and even some elected officials have been made believers as they have toiled away alone in the building late at night.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It certainly has a history. Beautiful building.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It looks like some of the buildings you'd see in England. I wouldn't want to work late there.

Robin said...

I agree with Diane about it looking like something you'd see in London or England.

Interesting about the haunting reports. It certainly sounds plausible that there are graves beneath the building. When you consider that the LAND has been here a very long time and our buildings have NOT, you simply don't know what could have happened on the LAND before this became the United States. A lot of living and dying happened here... most certainly.

Steven said...

Alex, from what I've read, historians suspect there is much more history to it than what was recorded.

Diane, it does have that kind of a look. It really is beautiful to drive past.

Robin, you're right, the land could be holding all kinds of secrets.

Julia King said...

Interesting, indeed.