The Utah State Capitol’s first floor will see changes in the upcoming weeks with the addition of biography plaques in the Hall of Governors. A biography plaque will hang next to each portrait of our Utah’s governors. We will be posting an example of what will be on the plaque every day. Stay tuned to read about your favorite Governor!
HEBER MANNING WELLS
Heber Manning Wells was born in 1859 in Salt Lake City, Utah. While in his teens, Wells began his public service career as a tax collector for Salt Lake City. In 1882, he was appointed City Recorder to fill a vacancy and was elected for three additional terms, serving until 1890. He ran for Salt Lake City Mayor in 1892 but lost. Wells participated in Utah’s 1887 and 1895 constitutional conventions.
At age 36, Wells became Utah’s first (and youngest) governor when Utah achieved statehood on January 4, 1896. Operating from the City and County Building, Governor Wells tackled the job of organizing state courts and offices for the new state of Utah. He signed into law many bills, including Alice Merrill Horne’s bill; which created the State Institute of Art (now the Utah Arts Council), the first state-sponsored arts organization in the country. Wells served two terms as Utah’s governor and spent the rest of his career in various public offices, both for Salt Lake City and the federal government.
John Willard “Will” Clawson (1858–1936) was a nationally known portrait painter. He studied locally with George Ottinger and in Europe with Impressionist masters Edouard Manet and Claude Monet. Clawson painted the portraits of many society figures of his day, including a portrait of his grandfather Brigham Young and three other Utah governors: Cutler, Bamberger, and Dern.