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When Rebuilt, Star Hotel Will Reflect Designs From 1920s and 1889

The Star Hotel was demolished this week, with plans to rebuild it to match its 1920s form. But in the past 130 years, the structure on 227 Main Street has gone through quite a few changes. 

A pile of dirt in an empty lot currently resides where the Star Hotel sat until Tuesday, when a construction crew demolished the historic building. But the dingy beige façade that was torn down wasn’t historic—it was an alteration from 1975. Originally, a family built a cottage-style house on the site in 1889. The house was later sold to Chinese immigrant Joe Grover, before the Spanish Allende family bought the property and added the Star Hotel to the front of the house in the 1920s. Park City Planner Hannah Tyler worked with the Park City History Museum to uncover the historic elements beneath the ‘70s stucco.

“When you see the reconstruction—hopefully in the next year—we’ll be able to actually read that there is a single-family dwelling in the back with the Star Hotel addition on the front that will reflect the 1920s, and then the 1889 in the back," Tyler said. "I think it's a really great opportunity for us to continue to tell the story of Main Street, and how we would develop and get more lodging on Main Street, and things like that.”

Everything has been scrapped—except for the underlying stone foundation and the chimney brick from the 1889 house, which has been stored to be rebuilt to appear the same as it did in the 1920s. At the same time, Tyler says, the building still needs to be constructed to meet modern standards.

“I believe that this will be applied in more of a veneer fashion—so you’ll have a safe building, and it will meet codes," Tyler said. "I think there are some exceptions you can have when you have a historic building, so we can still make sure that it looks like it should. We've worked with our chief building official and building department in general, just to make sure that we can get a structure that looks exactly like it did in the 1920s but still meets the code today.”

The hotel was designated as a significant historic site, meaning that it couldn’t be demolished. But after going through a process with the building department, it was noticed as a public safety hazard, leading to its deconstruction. Park City History Museum Executive Director Sandra Morrison says there are a few other buildings in town—like the Centennial House and historic mining structures—that are in equally bad condition. Replicas are the last choice for historic preservation, she says.

“I guess it just indicates that the longer we take to resolve these cases, the more they deteriorate," Morrison said. "Maybe it's time to start looking at some other methods that might be available to the city, to move preservation projects forward and in a more timely manner.”

Tyler says the owners will likely put a restaurant in the finished building, with some rooms upstairs. Aside from an additional 68 square feet in the back, the dimensions will be the same as the old building.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.