A Unique Building, A Fascinating History
Thursday Oct 17 2019
“It’s a wonderful building! I drove by it nearly every day, and each time I’d pass, it would catch my eye. Then, one day, it came up for sale! I said to my husband, ‘We’ve got to buy it!’ He asked what for and I told him we’d think of something…”
And think of something, she did! This is how Nancy Long, The Black Goose Design and Gardner Village founder, describes her introduction to what is now our gorgeous home, furniture showroom and interior design business.
It’s a building rich with Utah history and loads of unique personality. Join us on this behind-the-scenes tour. We’ll go through areas not typically open to the public and discover the rich history behind our showroom home.
THE BUILDING HISTORY
Let’s kick this trip back in time off with a look at this building’s story:
- This gorgeous space was built in the early 1900s.
- Nancy Long purchased it in 1985.
- Before The Black Goose Design called it home, this building was the Sharon Steel Smelter mine office building, a rec center, a doctor’s office, and a seamstress shop/drapery workroom.
THEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM LIKE THIS ANYMORE
Step foot inside The Black Goose Design, and you know you’ve arrived at a special place. At your feet, you’ll likely see original hardwood flooring, as well as a peek at its rec center past.
Along the walls, you can’t help but notice the antique radiators, which are still used to heat the building.
Around nearly every turn, you’ll see signs of the antique architecture:
- gorgeous windows overhead
- a stylish stairwell running up the building’s center
- lightswitch plates that stand out from today’s flat crowd
- layers of personality peeking through in a spot where the wallpaper has fallen off the wall
- thick brick walls…
… and the list goes on! It really is a treat to experience.
AN UNSUAL FEATURE & A COLORFUL PAST
Of course, a feature that often catches the most attention are the large walk-in safes on both the main and upper levels.
Today, they house fabric swatches and clearance items, but they served a much more intense purpose when this building was the Sharon Steel Smelter office building. They held large sums of money for the mining company, including solid gold used in payroll.
At that point in history, a train ran directly behind the building and would stop to make high-dollar cash deliveries. This was before the days of armored cars, so armed guards would sit in these very upstairs windows, machine guns in hand, guarding the deliveries against theft. Crazy stuff to imagine today!
BEHIND THE SCENES
The Black Goose Design recently got a new front door. As the entryway was being remodeled, those who've worked here came by and signed their name on the wall around the door frame before the new casing went up. It's like our way of adding a piece of history to this already-interesting building's story!
If you look closely, you might see "Joe Long" written across the top of the door before the gorgeous new frame (pictured below) went in. Others followed suit, adding their names all around the door. Very cool!
Have you ever looked around Midvale and noticed a lack of trees? Well, maybe not a lack of trees, per se, but a lack of TALL trees. There’s a reason for this.
“Some 20-25 years ago, Midvale did a cleanup, saying the ground was contaminated and needed to be removed,” Angie Gerdes, Nancy Long’s daughter and Gardner Village co-owner, recalls. “Much of Midvale was given the choice to either have their trees removed at no cost or keep their trees, knowing that if they were to die, the expense of the removal would fall to the property owner. Nearly everyone allowed the city to remove the trees, but Mom opted to keep our trees. It paid off. The trees lived. Today, they stand beautifully above The Black Goose Deisgn, adding to the building’s unique beauty.”
The exterior is also known for its ivy abundance.
Between the towering trees and the green coating its brick walls, The Black Goose Design looks a bit like a cottage tucked away in the woods. Well… except for the fact that it sits right on the west end of Midvale, but you get the fairytale vision we like to see.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
The building may look like the stuff of fairytales, but The Black Goose Design's story sure doesn't have a fairytale beginning. Let’s pick up where Nancy Long left off in 1985. She and her husband had just purchased the building. Though, her husband still wasn’t entirely convinced of the decision.
“As we worked on renovating the space, my husband kept asking me what we were going to do with the building. ‘Make it a store,’ I’d tell him. ‘You already have a store,’ he’d reply. But I saw this store serving a different purpose than Country Furniture [now CF Home at Gardner Village]. It would be a higher-end furniture store.”
Nancy went ahead with her dream, attending a furniture market and buying as much as she could with her less-than-impressive credit rating at the time and a net-30 payback arrangement.
“The pressure was on. I had just one month to sell this furniture in order to make the payment, so I called my daughter Stacy in Wyoming and put her to work in the store. We filled the building with what we little we were able to purchase at market. I even brought in some of my own furniture to make it look less bare. To advertise our grand opening, we opted for a mailer, using our Country Furniture mailing list. On grand opening day, we had two furniture reps and our small staff ready to welcome our new customers... only they never came. Turns out the post office had failed to mail our flyers. I was so mad that I couldn't even get mad at that point. I just knew we HAD TO move this furniture, so I made a quick flyer and had the employees at Country Furniture put it in all the bags. I told them they had to get the word out. And that’s just what they did. We did $50,000 in business that first month and have been a success ever since.”
Talk about a stressful foot to start on. We admire Nancy Long and her vision. She knew she was on to something as soon as she saw the sale sign in front of this remarkable space, and she followed that gut instinct through, even though the deck seemed stacked against her. How happy we are she did, too. This space with all its character and its layers of history is the ideal backdrop for The Black Goose Design. Stop by anytime to take a look around for yourself. We'd love to meet you. Every customer who visits and client we serve adds to the rich tapestry that makes us who we are today!