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Louis E and Florence Jensen Van Dam House

Sandy City, Salt Lake County, UT

The Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]


The Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House, built c.1908, in a one-story, brick and stucco central block with projecting bays-type house. The house sits on a stone foundation and has a wood-shingled roof. The Victorian Eclectic styling of the house has been altered somewhat over the years, but is still quite apparent in the details. The residence is located at 407 East 8800 South in Sandy.[1] The Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House is located on a nearly a 1/2 acre of land facing south on 8800 South, and contains mature deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubbery at various places around the year. The house is in good condition and contributes to the historic resources of Sandy.[2]

Judging from a c.1938 tax file photograph, the Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House was fairly elaborate in style and detail, but has undergone some alteration over time which has removed most of the Classical details. The original brick walls have since been stuccoed, at least as early as 1938 according to tax file information. Also, probably at this time, the front porch was altered, replacing the original Tuscan-style columns with square, plaster piers arching into a flat plaster cornice. The house retains the original wooden, one-over-one, double-hung sashes, as well as the square, single-light fixed sashes with transoms located on the three bays. One of the rear windows features four vertical lights over one. All of the window openings have two-course, brick relieving arches which have been obscured by the stucco.

Though the angle of the c.1938 tax photograph makes it difficult to see the west wing, all three wings appear on the tax card footprint drawing and are most likely original. This makes the Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House somewhat cruciform in plan, with three simple gables extending from the central pyramidal roof. All of the bays have pedimented gables with alternating circle and diamond shingles as gable trim. The east and west gables have rectangular, double-hung windows. The front gable has an oculus window, which appears from the tax photo to be a replacement (date unknown).

Only one of the three original brick chimneys remains, located at the rear of the house. A porch at the northeast corner was enclosed with beadboard paneling, probably quite early. Recently a wooden deck was added as an extension off of the west side of the front porch.

There are two outbuildings located on the property. One is a wood-frame and plywood-sided garage or shed. This is either new, or is a renovated garage which is listed on the old tax file, but it appears noncontributing. The other building is possibly one listed as "studio" on the tax file and has 1938 as the date of construction. The building, located near the northeast corner of the house, has a single entryway and no windows that are apparent. The gable roof has an almost indiscernible pitch. The wood-frame structure is covered in what appears to be false clapboards with rounded edges. This building is in fair condition and is contributing. The tax file also lists a barn located on the property which was removed sometime after 1956.

The landscaping is mostly lawn to the front and east side. A concrete sidewalk runs along 8800 South, up to the house, and around the east side to the rear. A sandstone-lined gutter (c.1905) follows the line of the sidewalk on the street. A concrete pad for parking which serves as a driveway is in the rear near the northwest corner of the house. Additional more for parking (on gravel) is located to the south of the pad. The west side of the property faces a side street. There is a chain-link fence at the back of the west property line and along the rear of the property. A wood fence runs along the east side. There are two large deciduous trees in the front yard and a large conifer on the west side of the house. The houses along 8800 South are a mix of late-nineteenth century Victorian house types, bungalows, and a few later houses. The Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House is in good historic condition, and despite alterations, contributes to the historic resources of the neighborhood.


The Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House, built c.1908, is significant for its association with two periods of development in Sandy's history: the Mining, Smelting, and Small Farm period of 1871-c.1910 and the Specialized Agriculture, Small Business, and Community Development Period (1906-1946) of the multiple property submission, Historic Resources of Sandy City. Long time citizens of Sandy, the Van Dam family served in a number of civic capacities. The house is also architecturally significant as an example of a common house type, the central block with projecting bays, built by residents of Sandy during the mining boom period. Though it has been altered slightly, the Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House retains much of its historic integrity and contributes to the historic resources of Sandy.

Historical Significance

Located 12 miles south of Salt Lake City, historic Sandy is at the crossroads of what was once a busy series of mining districts. Paralleling to a large extent the history of mining in Bingham Canyon to the west and Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons to the east, Sandy's history and development either boomed or declined based on these mining operations. Sandy's first major period of development is known as the Mining, Smelting, and Small Farm Era, 1871-c.1910. During this period Sandy became a strategic shipping point and a number of sampling mills and smelters were built in the area. While the dominant force in the economy of Sandy during the 1870s through the 1890s was undoubtedly that of mining, the local agricultural community continued to develop. The majority of those involved in agriculture were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church or Mormon church) who were encouraged to pursue agriculture instead of mining.[3]

The Specialized Agriculture, Small Business, and Community Development Period (1906-1946) is the second period of development in Sandy. It encompasses the first half of the twentieth century and was a period of transition for the city. The mining, smelting and small farm era (1871-circa 1910) was being replaced by a more diversified economy. In some ways the town still resembled the earlier predominantly agricultural community founded by Mormon settlers in the 1860s, especially as the "boom town" economy created around the mining industry waned. The population of Sandy remained around 1,500 for the four decades between 1900 and 1940.[4] However, the city was defining itself as the political, economic, civic and social center for a major portion of the southeast Salt Lake Valley.

This period of Sandy's history laid the groundwork for city's eventual transformation from small town to suburb. One of the earliest signs of community development was the creation of subdivisions from large farming parcels. During the first half of the twentieth century, the majority of Sandy residents continued to live on their farms, however most managed to survive economically by combining subsistence farming with other occupations, primarily cottage industries and mercantilism. Other farmers created large specialized agricultural enterprises such as sugar beets and poultry. Many Sandy residents continued to work in the mining and smelter industries in nearby communities after Sandy's smelters closed down.

The original section of land from which this lot was derived was patented to Joseph Barker in January 1877. The Last Chance Silver Mining Company of Utah then owned the property for a short time, until Liberty E. Holden purchased it in 1881. Holden retained ownership until after the turn of the century when two local businessmen and developers James Jensen and William Kuhre purchased the north half of the northeast quarter of section 6 in January, 1904, for $3,500. In August 1905, this parcel was dedicated as a subdivision known as the Flagstaff Addition to Sandy. This particular lot was deeded to Florence Jensen Van Dam, daughter of James Jensen, on February 20,1908, which is probably when she and Louis Van Dam had the house constructed where they spent the rest of their lives. The house is listed on the 1910 census of Sandy.

Louis Evans Van Dam was born on March 5, 1885 to Herbert and Mary Elizabeth Evans Van Dam in Salt Lake City. While still quite young he moved with his family to Canada where they homesteaded for several years before returning to settle in Sandy, Utah. Louis helped his father in raising cattle, and herding them to the White City area for grazing.[5] He attended schools in Salt Lake City and Sandy, and attended the University of Utah. He then became an employee working for the Jensen and Kuhre Hardware Company in Sandy, a position he would hold for more than forty years. Louis Van Dam was Sandy City Recorder from 1922-1948, and was also secretary of the Sandy Canal Company and Sandy Irrigation Company.

Louis married Sarah Florence Jensen on April 20,1905, in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. Florence was the daughter of James and Anna Sophia Christensen Jensen. She was born on August 16, 1884, in Draper, Utah. She attended school in Draper and in Sandy after the family moved there in 1892, where her father became involved in various business activities. Florence was actively involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon church), serving in various positions, including the Primary President, President of the Y.W.M.I.A., Sunday School, Director on the East Jordan Stake Relief Society Board, and ward (parish) organist for thirty years. Florence was also a member of the Sandburr Camp of the Daughter's of the Utah Pioneers.

Louis Van Dam was probably most remembered in the community for his singing and acting. Louis took part in many community plays, and accompanied by either his wife or daughter, sang at approximately 1,300 funerals. Mr. Van Dam was invited to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on their 1911 New York tour which included fifty concerts and a performance at the White House before President Howard Taft. Florence Van Dam was as involved with music as her husband. She played piano and organ, performed at various community events and taught piano lessons.[6] The Van Dams had six children. Florence died June 17,1932, in Sandy. Louis died on March 1, 1960. The house still remains in the family.

Architectural Significance

The center of Sandy's initial settlement possesses a unique character due to several components. First the width of the residential streets remain consistently smaller than many towns in Utah that were laid out with wide streets and ten-acre blocks. Although Sandy employed the grid pattern of development, the streets, other than the major thoroughfares such as Main Street, are relatively narrow. Secondly, the scale of the residences are consistent, mostly one or one-and-a-half story homes with a modest footprint. Third, the earliest buildings are sporadically placed within the city's core. The buildings built prior to 1910 provide the streetscape with a strong sense of historic association as they are located among homes that date from the 1920s through the 1940s. The blending of pre-1910 buildings within the narrow streets of smaller-scale residential structures provide a distinctive quality to Sandy's historic core.

The Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House is representative of a major shift in Sandy community architecture. When the Sandy mining boon ended in 1893 and local commerce turned to agricultural business, construction slowed and the quality of houses improved. The homes built at the turn-of-the-century in Sandy were permanent, substantial structures made of brick, stone, adobe, or frame with shiplap siding, and adorned with decorative woodwork of trained craftsmen. This house is expressive of the level of craftsmanship attained locally during this turn-of-the-century shift to more substantial and elaborate homes.

Victorian forms were popular in Utah 1885-1915. The central-block-with-projecting-bays house type was an important basic form of the Victorian house. Projecting bays were added to the principal rooms to achieve a desired external irregularity of design and make the rooms larger and brighter. This house form is characterized by a roughly square central section punctuated by bays to one or several sides. The main roof is hipped or pyramidal, while the bays are usually gabled. The smaller, less expensive houses usually had an entry leading directly to the living room or parlor.[7] The Van Dam house with, its cruciform plan, is one of the more elaborate examples in Sandy.

The style of the Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House also illustrates the early twentieth century changes that were occurring in Utah. Victorian Eclectic details, such as the lathe-turned columns originally on the Van Dam house, were important in describing the end of isolation of Utah in the late nineteenth century. Rural areas were less isolated from stylistic developments occurring on both the national and local levels. The pattern book styles and standardized building components were available and easily adapted for use with local materials. The former isolation of rural areas was no longer an obstacle to building well.[8] The stuccoed walls and new front porch were an attempt in the 1920s or 1930s to update the look of the house, making the Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House a link between the Victorian era and early twentieth century styles such as the bungalow or period cottage.


  1. In 1986, Sandy changed its address system in its historic district to conform with the Salt Lake County system. The original address of the house was 717 East Second South.
  2. Large portions of the narrative were written by J. Cory Jensen. See Jensen's Intensive Level Survey of the Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House, prepared for the Sandy City Community Development Department, April 1998.
  3. See Multiple Property National Register Nomination: Historic Resources of Sandy City, prepared by Wayne Balle.
  4. Martha Sonntag Bradley, Sandy City: The First 100 Years, (Sandy, Utah: Sandy City Corporation, 1993), 205. The population totals in Sandy for census years 1880 to 1950 are as follows: 1880 - 488; 1900 - 1,632; 1910 - 1,716; 1920 - 1,208; 1930 -1,436; 1940 -1,487; 1950 - 2,095.
  5. Roxie N. Rich, The History and Early People of Sandy, (n.p. [1975]), 680.
  6. Ibid., 681,683.
  7. Carter and Goss, 44.
  8. Carter and Goss, 110-111.


Balle, Wayne L. Multiple Property National Register Nomination: Historic Resources of Sandy City.

Bradley, Martha Sonntag. Sandy City: The First 100 Years. Sandy, Utah: Sandy City Corporation, 1993.

Carpenter, Lerona. "Sandy Ward Vignettes, 1882-1982." n.p.[1982].

Carter, Thomas and Peter Goss. Utah's Historic Architecture, 1847-1940: A Guide. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1988.

Deseret News. June 18, 1932: p.4, sec.2 and May 4, 1960: B-13.

Jensen, J. Cory. Intensive Level Survey of the Louis E. and Florence Jensen Van Dam House. Prepared for the Sandy City Community Development Department, April 1998.

Porath, Joseph H., "Materials gathered for a history of Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon." USHS Call #MSS, A, 435-16,17.

Reconnaissance Level Survey of Sandy City, 1987.

Rich, Roxie N. The History and People of Early Sandy, (n.p.[1975]).

R.L Polk Directories, Salt Lake City, 1900-1957.

Robertson, Frank C. Boom Towns of the Great Basin. Denver, Colorado: Sage Books, 1962.

Salt Lake County Archives. Tax assessor's cards and photographs.

Salt Lake County Recorder's Office. Title abstracts.

Salt Lake Tribune. August 8 1947, October 24,1959 and May 23, 1975.

Tales of a Triumphant People: A History of Salt Lake County, Utah 1847-1900. Compiled by the Daughters Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake County Camp. Stevens and Wallis Press, 1947.

United States Census, 1910 and 1920.

‡Korral Broschinsky, Sandy Community Development Department, Van Dam, Louis E. and Florence Jensen, House, Sandy, Salt Lake County, UT, nomination document, 1999, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
East 8800 South