The development of the downtown business district of Provo, Utah has closely followed the orderly growth envisioned by its founders. However, one early change in the city's layout had a profound effect on the direction of Provo's development. In 1852, Brigham Young moved the site of the Provo tabernacle from its original location in the designated public square to a location on the fringes of the earliest city boundaries. The result of this action was a sometimes heated controversy among residents regarding the city's true public center. As commercial development reached a peak between 1896 and 1915, the controversy erupted into a rivalry between east-side and west-side residents. Jesse Knight and Thomas Nicholls Taylor, two of the city's most prominent citizens and businessmen, became opponents in advocating opposite sides of the city for development. The strong emotions generated by the rivalry reached a peak with the election to decide the location of Provo's Union Passenger Depot in 1909.

Throughout the period of their rivalry, the opposing efforts of Knight and Taylor to establish a commercial center in Provo played a key role in the location and style of the city's most important commercial and residential buildings. These structures are an important focus of study since they represent the playing pieces in a competition that was almost single-handedly responsible for the growth and composition of central Provo. This thesis evaluates the effect of the Knight-Taylor rivalry on architecture in Provo between 1896 and 1915, and examines some of the buildings that resulted from the controversy within the context of contemporary architectural trends.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Art



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Architecture, Utah, Provo, Jesse Knight, 1845-1921, T. N. Taylor, Thomas Nicholls, 1868-1950, History, Mormon Church, Retail trade