Damned Ice!

It’s hard to say IT’S SPRING when it just keeps snowing and snowing!  If you live in the Salt Lake Valley, you probably don’t have much stacked up on your yard but in the benches homes that face north still have up to a foot in some places. Then there’s all the snow in the canyons, Park City, Cache Valley, etc. We’re breaking records for snowfall left and right and when this stuff does melt some folks are going to be dealing with ice dams, water damage and mold.

During and after a snowfall, the snow on your roof can be warmed two ways leading directly to the snow melting: One way is through the sun’s rays which are refracted through ice crystals of the snowflakes that have collected on your home’s roof creating warmth and melting the snow. The other way is through the heat from the inside of your home escaping through the attic and it’s vents and warming your roof. When this snowmelt reaches your home’s cold gutters it can freeze into ice. This ongoing process of thawing and refreezing creates ice dams in your gutters. These dams can cause water to back up under the shingles of your roof or behind the fascia boards where it can lead to damage to the roof decking, wall sheathing or the ceilings and walls of your attic.

Ice dams can cause awful problems and cost a ton of money to fix. The absolute worst thing you can hear in your home or apartment is the sound of running water, a sound you didn’t cause by turning on a tap. If the water gets under your shingles it will pool in the attic and then run down your walls or inside your walls and could end up in your basement. The scary part is that you might not hear the water melting until it’s too late, when your ceiling can fall in on you. It starts as a bubble in the paint which can grow to a huge bubble before it pops and then woe and behold attic insulation and sheetrock come tumbling down onto the floor. Or it travels inside the walls and you find your basement has water in it from the roof dam. It can happen slowly or quickly depending on the outside temperatures and weather conditions.

The longer the melting water runs into your home, the more damage it will cause. Almost immediately mold will start to grow in any warm area of the home that the moisture touches. Mold can lead to serious breathing and health problems and many times isn’t discovered until it’s done havoc to your home.

If you see a large bunch of icicles hanging from sections of your gutter knock them down. You can also add insulation and heating wires on your roof and in your gutters to eliminate this problem.

Sears Big Hole

There’s a big hole in the ground in Salt Lake City-you know the one, on the west side of State Street between 700 and 800 South.  The ‘Sears Pit’ will be transformed in the near future from a huge block that’s now a pool of water and mud to a new hospital for Intermountain Health Care. So many of us old farts have many memories of Sears, Roebuck and Company that it was hard to see the diggers and dozers pull down the building this winter.

Richard Sears was a railroad station agent in Minnesota who came up with an idea in 1886 to sell modestly priced watches that no jeweler wanted to offer, and did it through mail order.  Soon he partnered up with a friend, Alvah Roebuck and then a clothing merchant (Julius Rosenwald) to create a mail order firm that penetrated rural areas who didn’t have department stores but could be reached through railroad and mail delivery. Their original catalogues sold buggies to bicycles, sewing machines and fishing poles, clothes and shoes and of course, watches. They literally had to train Americans on how to ‘catalogue’ shop with mail order protocols for payments and returns. Many credit Sears as the company that taught Americans how to shop! The Sears and later Craftsman line of products became a high standard of reasonably priced items and the annual catalogue was treasured by every kid in America who was able to look at pictures of the newest bikes, trikes, dolls and banjos and could circle the ad to let Santa what they wanted for Christmas and birthdays.

From 1908–1940, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold 70,000 – 75,000 homes through their mail-order catalogue “Modern Homes” program. Over that time Sears designed 447 different housing styles, from the elaborate multistory Ivanhoe, with its elegant French doors and art glass windows, to the simpler Goldenrod, which served as a quaint, three-room and no-bath cottage for summer vacationers. (An outhouse could be purchased separately for Goldenrod and similar cottage dwellers.) Customers could choose a house to suit their individual tastes and budgets. Sears was not an innovative home designer but instead a very able follower of popular home designs but with the added advantage of modifying houses and hardware according to buyer tastes. Individuals could even design their own homes and submit the blueprints to Sears, which would then ship off the appropriate precut and fitted materials, putting the home owner in full creative control. Modern Home customers had the freedom to build their own dream houses, and Sears helped realize these dreams through quality custom design and favorable financing.

The Salt Lake City store was built in 1947, a big box looking thing of Mid-Mod design. Sears lost a lot of customers to new competitors in the 1970’s, like Target, Kmart and Walmart. It was eventually bought out by Kmart in 2005 for $12 billion. They filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2018 and this store closed in 2018.


Big in Japan

Long story short, I was asked to tour a Japanese film crew around the Capitol City for a friend. They were here featuring a local business but wanted content about our fair city. They had already been here once before and shot film in and around Temple Square so I was responsible for suggesting places to visit off the beaten path that your typical tourist might miss. Since part of my job as a real estate broker is to tour potential buyers moving to the area around it was an easy task, made easier for me as I’m the volunteer Chair of the Historic Landmarks Commission for Salt Lake City!

I picked up the crew from their hotel and lucky for me they spoke English. First stop, a drive downtown around Temple Square to explain the current scaffolding around the LDS Temple and then a photo stop at the Lion House. “Lion of the Lord” was one of Brigham Young’s nicknames, and he lived at 63 E. South Temple where he ultimately fathered 57 children by more than two dozen wives.

Next, up and around the state capitol building and then into the historic Avenues past the grand old Victorian, Federalist and Craftsman homes up to the Mid-Mod area of Pill Hill where we toured a home for sale with sweeping views of the valley where I pointed out the geographical benches (foothills), the Rio Tinto mine, Mt. Nebo (you can see it’s peak from the top of the Avenues).   Then, off to the ultimate oddity-Gilgal Sculpture Garden at 749 E. 500 So. (free). This little public park is the legacy of Thomas Child’s desire to give physical form to his deep-felt religious beliefs, and the garden contains 12 amazing stone sculptures and 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems and philosophical tests that rang true to his spiritual quest. I had to take the immediately to see what I call ‘Mr. Brick Pants’-one of the largest sculptures in the garden, as much else was covered in snow. They ooo’d and awed and took lots of video before I shuffled them back in the car to drive them by Trolley Square (the original service barns of a long gone trolley car system in the city), Liberty Park to our final destination…the ‘World’s First Kentucky Fried Chicken’ store!

Harland Sanders created his secret recipe for fried chicken in 1940. He met Pete and Arline Harman at a convention and they made a deal to franchise Sanders restaurant at his motel in So. Carolina. The host of the program informed me that it’s tradition for Japanese to order KFC as a Christmas day delicacy in their country and they photographed the museum pieces at the flagship store at State and 3900 So. They bought swag there and we ended up at the Sun Trapp tavern as they wanted to shoot a gay bar in Utah. Fun was had by all and the show should be up in Japan soon!