From Lumber Barn To Elegant Office

Restoration And Creation Of Timberidge Custom Homes

The Heber Valley was built on the blood, sweat and tears of pioneers. The evidence of that hard work can be seen in the historic structures that dot its landscape today. These buildings give us a glimpse of what life was like before we got here and, if preserved, will continue to tie our future to our past.

As we grow, it is vital that we regularly check the tendencies to sprawl, to keep moving to the outskirts, to keep a building healthy city requires a healthy economic city center, and there is a push right now to both preserve and enhance Heber’s downtown district. Inspired by a beautifully renovated old warehouse in Springville, Utah, I met with the Heber City Planning and Zoning Department and expressed my desire to find a building downtown that needed some TLC. My business was in need of office space and I thought renovating a historic building would not only be a fun challenge, but also my way to contribute to the revitalization of our downtown. The Heber planning, zoning and building departments are motivated to help residents, business owners and developers bring life back to Main Street. These departments are also invested in preserving the history of our valley. When we met, they explained to me the many challenges of meeting current requirements in the downtown area, but also expressed their desire to help me overcome these obstacles.

The Lumber Barn

Back in the 1960s, the Craftsman Lumber Company occupied what is now Heber Valley Center Stage — the Christian Center’s thrift store in Heber across the parking lot from the thrift store is a building that began its life as Craftsman’s lumber barn. Originally a three-sided structure, it was built with post and beam construction, with large rough-sawn timbers and heavy metal plates. Later on, the lumber store moved and a new owner added a fourth wall, turning the building into an oddly-configured office space. The building languished through several owners and purposes, and became somewhat of an old, run-down eyesore.

As my life’s work has been building houses from the ground-up, I found the building’s history as a lumber barn both unique and fitting for my business.

Just as the Zions Bank in Heber was built with red rock to mimic the historic style of the Bank Block building, I looked to adjacent structures for architectural inspiration. In order to bring the building back to the era in which it was originally built, I chose to pattern the architecture after the old firehouse building across the street with red brick, heavy steel and black industrial windows.

The Process

It wasn’t easy. My team and I faced a lot of engineering issues, like bringing the building up to current shear codes, adding and upgrading structural footings and foundations, and upgrading all of the building’s mechanical systems to the latest technologies and energy efficiencies. We basically had to strip the building down to its bare bones and — in retrospect — it would have been less expensive if we had knocked it down and started from scratch.

It was worth every penny.

Instead, this building remains a part of our history. The half-century-old timbers, metal brackets and architectural features survive, and the soul of the building — one I’ve come to love — will live on, hopefully, for another 50-plus years.

Moving Forward, Looking Backward

I commend today’s well-designed and quality-built structures, but I also applaud those who find ways to take buildings from our past and re-purpose them into something of future value. Some of Heber Valley’s most iconic building have been re-purposed in this way, including the old Tabernacle, which hosts Heber’s city offices, and the old North School, which is now the Wasatch School district’s  administration building. Structures such as the old fire house and the Bank Block still stand, and other historic buildings throughout the valley remind us of what came before.

Taking these pieces of history and weaving them into our tapestry today makes our community strong; it makes us better. We can both honor the hard work of the pioneers who settled this beautiful valley and continue to grow our heritage with needed new structures. Done properly, this can be the tapestry of our future — a bright future that intertwines with our past.

If you’ve ever driven around the northwestern end of Heber, you may have noticed several sandstone markers displayed at the corners of 100 West 500 North, 100 West 100 North, 300 West 500 North, and 300 West 100 North, that mark the location of Fort Heber. Perhaps in your hustle to Smith’s Marketplace, you’ve wondered at the monument in front of the store. Whether you’re a long time resident or a newcomer, you’ve probably read the brief summaries of Heber’s history. As usual, there is always more to the story once you look deeper.

In 1858 a group of men came from Provo, surveyed the land in twenty-acre plots, and selected the townsite of Heber. The following winter, twenty families stayed there. As protection from the Northern Ute Indian tribe, they built a fort one block south and one block west from the site. The family homes were constructed using cottonwood logs and were joined together to form the outside wall of the fort. Inside the protective fort, a 20’ X 40’ building was erected; it had two fireplaces
and a stage and served as a schoolhouse, a church, and a gathering place for social events. In 1860 the fort was enlarged to house 44 families.

The Black Hawk War

In 1865, though there was no single act that started the war, a sub-chief named Antonga Black Hawk lead an uprising against the congressional act that forced the Ute tribes of Sanpete and Sevier Counties to reservations. Black Hawk retaliated against the settlers for broken promises, mistreatment, personal humiliation, and other acts that injured or killed Utes in the constant interactions between early settlers and natives since 1849. The Black Hawk War or Black Hawk’s War was a three-part war involving members of 16 Timpanogos Ute, Southern Paiute, Apache, and Navajo tribes, which lasted from 1865 to 1872.

The Friendship

Brigham Young ordered families throughout the valley to “fort up” in the central settlements of Heber, Midway, and Wallsburg. Like Brigham Young, Joseph Stacy Murdock, the presiding Bishop in Heber, believed it was better to feed the natives than to fight them. On August 20, 1867, Murdock invited Ute chief Tabby-To-Kwanah, a well educated, wise leader that served the interest of his people, to talk peace at his home. Chief Tabby, only wanting to speak with ‘Old Murdock’, rode down to Heber, taking with him all the sub-chiefs under his control, several hundred braves, women, and children, and camped out in Murdock’s yard and pasture. A feast was held the next day with enough meat, baked bread, corn, and whatever else the townsfolk had to offer to feed everyone. The two spoke all day. Later, Murdock and Chief Tabby exchanged simple gifts. A peace pipe was smoked, and a treaty of friendship was signed, ending the war between the settlers at Heber Valley and the Utes. With their signatures, the war was over, but only in Heber Valley and the surrounding towns and settlements. Chief Tabby acknowledged that he could not control Black Hawk’s actions across the rest of the territory. Even so, the meeting between Chief Tabby and Joseph Stacy Murdock lead the way for other treaties. Within a year, most of the fighting throughout the territory came to an end.

Peace In Heber Valley

Joseph and Tabby served their people well. They honored their vows to maintain peace and remained friends for life, leaders demonstrating their commitment to seeking and understanding the best of both worlds rather than fight.

Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine the wars and countless sacrifices that took place in our quiet valley not too long ago. Wars were fought, allies were made, and dynasties were altered, forging our valley into what it is today. Our valley still draws people in for the same reasons it was fought over — a beautiful, peaceful stretch of land worth fighting to keep.

The Burial Of Tom Tabby

One day in 1867, just two years after the signing of the Indian Peace Treaty, Chief Tabby rode into the valley. Astride his horse he carried the body of his son who had been killed in a hunting accident. Joseph Stacey Murdock recognized his friend and went to greet him. Knowing Murdock to be a religious leader among his people, Chief Tabby asked Joseph if he would bury his son in the custom of the ‘Mormons’. Feelings of great sorrow surged within Murdock as he conducted a Christian funeral service for his friend’s son. Tom Tabby was buried under a beautiful pine tree that had been planted several years before in the Heber cemetery by John H. Murdock.

After the final prayer Chief Tabby said, “My son has been buried in the white man’s custom, now he will be honored in the Indian fashion.” A rick of cedar logs was then laid upon the new grave and Tom Tabby’s favorite pony was led to it. The pony’s throat was cut and the animal was laid upon the pyre where the logs were set afire. Chief Tabby watched the fire until the embers slowly died, then mounting his horse, he rode off into the mountains east of Heber with his braves.