Daft Block – Daynes Jewelry Building
Backstory and Context
Born in England, Sarah Ann Daft arrived as a pioneer in Salt Lake City with her husband Alexander in 1856. After his death in 1884, the widowed Mrs. Daft took over his business interests and expanded them into a considerable estate. Described as a “brilliant woman” with “unusual business ability,” Daft held large amounts of stock in the Independent Telephone Company, owned the Reality Building on West Temple Street, and had even developed mining interests. She garnered a reputation among her peers for having one of the keenest business minds in the territory. Daft was also a philanthropist, and after her death in 1906 at the age of 78, she made certain to set aside funds in her will to build and maintain a home for the aged, infirm, and blind of both sexes. The nonprofit Sarah Daft home was opened in 1912 and continues to operate to this day.
Another English born immigrant and Mormon convert, Elias L. T. Harrison, was contracted by Sarah Daft to design and construct Daft Block. By 1887, when construction on the building first began, Harrison had already garnered a reputation for himself as an architect, a writer, and a controversial religious figure. Having built such structures as the Staines House and The Alta Club, he was also the first in Utah to teach classes in architecture and designed the Salt Lake Theatre’s ornate interior. Harrison helped to produce the region’s first magazine, Peep O’Day, which acted as the predecessor of the Salt Lake Tribune. He used his podium to act as the spokesperson for the reformist Godbeite New Movement after being excommunicated by the Mormon Church. Alongside founder William S. Godbe, and through the newly formed Church of Zion, Harrison encouraged cooperation between those of the Mormon faith and non-Church members.
In July 1908, The John Daynes Sons jewelry company took over the building […] Daynes Jewelry was founded by John Daynes, an expert craftsman in jewelry who learned his trade in England. Born in 1831, Daynes converted to Mormonism in 1848, moved to Salt Lake City in 1862 and became Brigham Young's watchmaker. Also a gifted musician, Daynes was able to perform on nearly every instrument. He was a choir director for 40 years and was the organist for the famous Mormon Tabernacle Organ, He founded Daynes Music Company and Daynes Optical Company. John Daynes died March 30, 1905. His sons, earlier taken on as partners, continued to run the jewelry and musical instrument store after his death. 1
The Daynes family were devout followers of the Mormon Church, both working for and marrying within the church hierarchy. Sadly, their business was not always as strong as their faith; they struggled to survive during their occupation at 26 S. Main from 1899 to 1908. In 1907 their jewelry safe was robbed and they lost roughly $15,000. While the robbers were caught, the jewelry was never recovered and the need for a change in location became all too apparent. In 1909 when Dayne’s son J. Fred bought the Daft Building, he was forced to sell 20,000 shares of stock in their company in order to come up with the money required for the down payment. Some were hesitant to invest in such a “risky” business venture, but Daynes Jewelry saw such contributors as then-governor John C. Cutler and many fellow members of the Church. Thanks to this J. Fred, his brothers, and their future generations were able to keep the dreams and businesses of John. Sr. alive for several decades.Today Daft Block serves as the location of the Beerhive Pub.
Roberts, Allen Dale. Salt Lake City's Historic Architecture. Mount Pleasant, SC. Arcadia Publishing, 2012.
History. Sarah Daft Home. Accessed February 02, 2018. https://www.sarahdafthome.org/our-home/.
Tolman, Maralyn Daynes. Brigham's Watchmaker. Daynes Family. January 27, 2017. Accessed February 02, 2018. http://29deadpeople.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/DaynesFAM.pdf.