Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Utah State Capitol Commission by Richard Tholen

In 1909, acting as president of the duly authorized Capitol Commission, Utah’s
Governor William Spry issued the proclamation naming the commission members who
would ultimately preside at the 1916 ceremonies opening the Utah State Capitol.

The proclamation began: “WHEREAS, Under the provisions of Section 1, of
Chapter 64, Laws of Utah, 1909, the Governor is directed to appoint a Commission to
be known as the Capitol Commission . . . ” With that preamble, the governor announced
the other members of the seven-man Commission:
• Secretary of State C.S. Tingey
• Attorney General A.R. Barnes
• Apostle John Henry Smith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints and president of the Utah Constitutional Convention in 1895
• Mr. John Dern, banker and leading Salt Lake businessman
• Mr. C.E. Loose, Provo banker and a owner of mining and industrial
• Mr. M.S. Browning, vice president of Ogden’s Browning Arms Company

The Commission appointed John K. Hardy, the governor's secretary, as "Acting
Secretary." David Mattson, the newly elected Secretary of State, succeeded C.D. Tingey,
and Anthon H. Lund was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of John Henry
Smith. Upon his release as a member of the Commission Mr. Tingey was named its
secretary Acting Secretary John K. Hardy.

Beginning in May of 1911, the Commission met regularly for the next seven years
to oversee numberless studies and proposals, the selection of an architect and other
contractors, the contracts for all participants, and enough acrimonious disputes to satisfy
even the most feisty politico. For example, only four months after the first meeting the
Commission published a Program of Competition for the selection of an architect.
The Commission served at its own expense with the exception of their secretary,
who received a modest $100.0T0 per month stipend. That amount was later increased to
$150.00 per month. Secretary Tingey kept meticulous minutes of the meetings. The record
provides a fascinating glimpse into history.

Just two and one half years from laying the cornerstone the Commission was ready
for a formal grand opening on October 9, 1916. In the evening a general public reception
was held – the guests being received by the governor and members of the Commission in
the State Reception Room. Estimates of attendance at the festivities put the number at thirty
thousand guests were received.

The Capitol Commission met for the last time on December 29, 1916, and Secretary
Tingey, presented its biennial report." Copies of the last annual report, dated January 4
1917, (when the Legislature convened) were to be bound, prepared and delivered to the
members. The minutes of that late December meeting are the last entry in more than 545
pages of commission minutes. They illustrate how diligently the Commission had worked.
They were and were faithful overseers of every aspect of Utah’s beautiful, new State

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