Park City’s houses are the largest, and considered by many, the best-preserved group of residential buildings in any metal-mining boom town in the western United States. As such, they provide the most complete documentation of the residential character of late 19th century mining villages, including their settlement patterns, building materials, construction techniques, and socio-economic make-up. The residences in Old Town represent the Utah’s largest collection of 19th and 20th century frame houses.
As this once industrial mining town laid down its pick axe and headlamp, it was turning into a ghost town in the 1960s. In fact, it is listed as a well-preserved “almost ghost” in a 1970 book I have on my shelf about ghost towns of America. But… Park City managed to dodge this fate of many once-vibrant mining villages across the West, by transitioning to an economy based upon snow rather than silver.
The estimated construction date of the Charles V. Jenkins House was 1885, with completion circa 1889, (in the heart of the mining boom from 1872-1929). It is architecturally significant as a “T” or “L” cottage (also known as a cross-wing). This style is one of the earliest and one of the three most common home types build in Park City during the mining boom era. CVJH is one of 78 houses of this style that remain standing in the Historic District.
Charles V. Jenkins, the original owner of the property, was most likely a miner. He retained ownership of the home until about 1900. The conveyor belt located in the backyard of the property is from an original Park City silver mine, perhaps the California-Comstock or the Silver King. The conveyor belt has transformed its industrious past into a modern decorative calling, and is a 100+ year-old reminder of the spirit of the pioneers of the West, who mined over $400 million in silver from the surrounding hills.
The home’s subsequent owner, from 1902-1923, was John F. Geiger. He painted the house with red, white, and blue trim (exterior color palate choices preserved today in remembrance) in honor of his military and patriotic background.
Bert Bircumshaw purchased the property in 1923. He was a member of the Park City Military Band, supervisor of the Park City Water Department, and a member of the Park City Fire Department. His wife Lillian resided in the home until the mid-1980s. Some of their personal items were found and preserved in an original wall of the home located at the modern-day staircase.
Now… after the remodel, Old Charles would be proud that his quaint cottage survives today in the Park City we know and love… a skiers paradise, a mountain-bikers delight, and a movie-buff’s dream. Old Town has managed to reinvent itself with the same entrepreneurial spirit that drove miners to silver over 100 years ago. Today, Park City is home to over 20,000 locals and many, many travelers. I hope you enjoy this historic town and your stay in the Charles V. Jenkins House.