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The City Journals

John Cahoon’s mansion in Murray

Feb 27, 2017 02:56PM ● By Alisha Soeken

John Cahoon’s Historic Murray Mansion (Susan Wright/ Resident)

By Alisha Soeken | [email protected]
In the same year that Peter Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony premiered, John P. Cahoon established a brick manufacturing plant in Salt Lake City that would become one the largest brick companies in the country.
Cahoon was born on the banks of Cottonwood Creek in Salt Lake County. Raised on a farm and being one of five sons, Cahoon learned hard work and determination.
Using those characteristics and understanding the scarcity of lumber in Utah, Cahoon propelled his business, the Salt Lake Pressed Brick Company to success. Over 200,000 bricks a day came from his business building on 11th East and 33rd South.  
In a 1920’s archived biography about Cahoon, S.J. Clarke wrote, “He has clay in abundance and the plant is known throughout the entire country. His establishment enjoys the reputation of being the most thoroughly up-to-date brick manufacturing plant of the country. At the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in 1893, the company was awarded a medal as first prize for the best red brick. And at the Panama-Pacific Exposition and succeeding expositions wherever his brick has been displayed he has received medals until his possessions of that character now number nearly a score.”
That prized brick went into building a home for Cahoon, his wife Elizabeth and their 10 children and stands today as the Murray Mansion.
The large two-and-a-half story yellow brick home was built in 1900 in a Victorian Eclectic style. Its exterior and interior details are of a Victorian influence yet its basic rectangular shape hints of the early 20th-century Bungalow style.
The home has remained virtually unchanged. Scroll brackets and dentils still decorate the wide eaves. In rooms with 12-foot high ceilings there are ornate fireplaces still in use. Wood paneled doors still slide and oval doorknobs turn. The original floor plan remains almost the same.
Cahoon and his family enjoyed the home for over 20 years. The Mansion saw the rearing of almost all 10 of Cahoon’s children. It has since known the lives of James C. Overson, a mining man and Steven L. Hansen, an attorney, among many others.
Bill and Susan Wright purchased the mansion 33 years ago.
“It’s a beautiful home with so much history. It’s big, over 10,000 square feet, but it’s still a very warm and homey place,” Susan said.
When the Wright’s purchased the home they spent countless hours restoring it, fixing the plumbing and working in the yard. But much of the mansion was still in pristine condition.
“The woodwork inside was perfect, the fireplaces still work, there are four of them, we used to light them for weddings and it was really nice. And the broilers for the radiators are still going strong,” Susan said.
For many years the Wright’s used the mansion for weddings and receptions.
“We got permission from the historic society to add a big ballroom on the side of the house. We bought brick from an old building to build it,” Susan said.
That ballroom saw many occasions, including a party for previous owner Mrs. Paine and weddings for some of her children.
The Wrights continue to live in the mansion but would love to see the city of Murray purchase it for the purpose of museum.
When Cahoon built his brick home over 117 years ago, he could not have imagined the length and breadth of its life and residents. Yet he would have undoubtedly agreed with Mrs. Paine’s devoted response when asked if the place was haunted.
“Heavens no, nothing bad ever happened in this home, just good things,” said Paine.