When James Alanson Eldredge married Jane Jennings in 1879, two of Utah’s most prominent families were united. Jane was the daughter of William and Jane Walker Jennings. She was raised in the Jennings’ home on west South Temple they called the Devereaux House. Her father was a wealthy merchant and Utah politician with extensive interests in the mining and railroad industries. He was elected Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah in 1882.
James’ father Horace Eldredge was a powerful Utah merchant, banker and a founding director of “Zion’s Cooperative Banking Institution” (ZCBI). Both Horace Eldredge and William Jennings were founding directors of Utah’s “Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution” (ZCMI).
The Eldredge’s only child, Afton, was born in 1892. Construction of the home and carriage house was financed by the in-laws and commenced when the couple returned to Utah from a California LDS mission around 1897 and was completed in 1900.
Robert Alvin Moss who married Afton, remembered hearing Mrs. Eldredge state that her father, William Jennings, celebrated the completion of his daughter’s new home by building a special temporary railroad spur from his home (The Devereaux House) in Salt Lake City to the new home in West Bountiful so that “his daughter could receive Salt Lake City society in style.”
This love of entertaining is certainly proven by the second floor ballroom that is original to the home. It is the only room with high-grade hardwood flooring, (the original wood floor was rediscovered about 1985). Church and community dances were often held in the Grand Ballroom.
Afton Eldredge Moss remembered frequent parties in her parents’ home and a constant stream of dignitaries. Of the more prestigious Utah guests at the mansion were Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith, who, like other LDS general authorities visiting Davis County, would stay with the Eldredges at their fine Victorian estate.
Heber J. Grant once stayed at the home for 18 months during the difficult times relating to polygamy during the period after Utah’s statehood. Mr. Moss noted it was easy from the third story window to spot a rider traveling north from Warm Springs. Mr. Moss also remembers Elder Grant “driving us all nuts” with his singing and practicing the piano.
To allow for additional guests, there were large double-hung folding doors placed to divide the Ballroom in half creating two bedrooms. The original hardware used for the doors was discovered in 1997 in a closet drawer that had been stuck shut for many years. The hardware was reinstalled and the doors remain operational.
About 1915 Mrs. Eldredge fell down the grand staircase in her home and was thereafter confined to a wheelchair. The full-sized dumbwaiter and the two-story frame addition at the back (north) of the house were built to enable Mrs. Eldredge to reach the second floor in her wheelchair.
As age and the effects of the fall took their toll, Mrs. Eldredge’s bedroom was moved downstairs to the (northeast) Family Room. A bedroom set purchased and shipped from Spain was acquired for the room. The mirrored Armoire was part of that bedroom set and has remained in the home ever since. A door-stop in the archways, put up to transform the room to a bedroom, is still visible today.
We have in our possession photographs of a ramp leading out the front (south) door to accommodate Mrs. Eldredge and her wheelchair. During this period she devoted much of her time to genealogy. She died in 1926.
James Eldredge served a term in the Utah State Legislature in 1907 and 1908. He later held positions as a director of Deseret Savings Bank and vice-president of Davis County Bank of Farmington. He remained in the home until his death in 1940.
After James Eldredge’s death, the home was sold to a Mr. Holbrook. Floyd and Stella Williams purchased the property for use as a reception center in the early 1970s. It has been in continuous operation by the family since that time with the exception of a 6 month shutdown for the 2004/2005 renovation.