Edwin G. Woolley Home

WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY     (Washington County, Utah)

EDWIN G. WOOLLEY / CHARLES F. FOSTER HOME

(aka Woolley-Foster Home, Seven Wives Inn)

St. George, Utah

LOCATION

217 North 100 West
St. George, UT 84770-2805

Northwest corner of 200 North and 100 West

Plat A, Block 39, Lot 1 on the old pioneer map of St. George.

37° 6' 43.08" North Latitude,   113° 35' 8.60" West Longitude
2,779 feet MSL

Tax ID# SG-XXX-x-x-x


DESCRIPTION

The house has big thick walls, very high ceilings, and wide window sills. It was cool in the summertime. It was heated with fire places and wood stoves. It had a cellar with a dirt floor, and a deck where the children slept in the summer.

The large yard had an orchard, barn, large garden area, and plenty of space for grandchildren to play. The swing on the porch was almost as big as the porch. The rose bushes Pamela planted still bloom.


HISTORY

When George F. Whitehead built this home for Edwin G. Woolley in 1873, it was considered the mansion of Washington County. The woodwork and glass in the fifteen-room house was of the finest, and he had much of the early furnishings shipped from England.

There is a pioneer legend that the then unfinished attic was often used as a hiding place for polygamists when the U.S. Marshals came to town. Credence is given to the story when the present owners were installing a bathroom in a huge closet in the second story of the building and found a concealed door that opened from the outside and a hole in the ceiling directly over it.

In 1907 Mr. Woolley moved his family to Salt Lake City and sold the home to Charles Franklin & Pamela Foster. The Fosters had nine daughters, one son, two orphaned nieces, and an orphan boy in his family and so they finished the garret for more bedrooms. The Fosters had the finances and taste not only to improve the house but to make additions such as the master bedroom, one of the first five bathrooms in town (having indoor plumbing was a big event for the family), and a fine piano from the East.

It remained in the Foster family until 1952. During that time it was the scene of much of the social and cultural life of pioneer Dixie. The home "pampered" many people. Visitors to stake conference were welcomed. At one time, J. J. McClellan, the Tabernacle Organist, and Anthony H. Lund stayed there. The children have often told of parties and the good times that were had in this home. Many times the walls would echo the laughter and sometimes the sadness. A short time after moving into this lovely home, the Fosters' 24 year old daughter died and her funeral was held in the parlor. The neighbors always had a good relationship. Every parent was known as uncle and aunt to the neighborhood children. They were like one family, the children and grandchildren of these families know of the special feeling they had for one another.

Tom & Olive Truman bought the home from the Fosters in 1952 for a rest home. Then it was put to a number of uses. It served Dixie College as a dormitory and was a care center.

It gradually fell into disrepair. It was even scheduled for demolition when Col. Elvin Maughan and his wife bought the home from the Trumans and restored it.

From approximately 1970 to 1978, the house was owned by Gene Latimer MD and his wife, Ruthe Latimer. Dr. Latimer was a pathologist and Mrs. Latimer was well known in Southwest Symphony circles. When they moved in, there was no plumbing, they all slept on the floor in one room, and in the morning they brushed off the plaster dust and horse hair. Ruthe pushed through major work including repairs to walls, floors, windows, doors, plumbing, wiring, and details like hand tooled balusters and crown molding.

In 1981 it was purchased by Jay and Donna Curtis who immediately began to restore the house to its former grandeur. Their careful and loving attention to detail and accuracy have made it once again a mansion to be proud of. The many balconies have been preserved as has the woodwork, the high ceilings and the glass transoms over the doors. It is furnished with antiques of the period. After the restoration, the Curtises opened the home to the public as the Seven Wives Inn, St. George's first Bed and Breakfast Inn. To step into this house is to step back one hundred years and see how prosperous and refined people lived. It engenders in us more respect for our ancestors.

Owners:
Edwin G. Woolley
Charles F. & Pamela Foster
Tom & Olive Truman
Col. Elvin Maughan
Gene & Ruthe Latimer MD
Jay & Donna Curtis
Dr. Petty


BIOGRAPHY

Edwin Gordon Woolley was a carpenter, a judge, and a member of the very prosperous mercantile firm of Woolley, Lund, and Judd. He was a man of education and had a taste for the finer things in life. He was described in his day as a true aristocrat.

Charles Franklin & Pamela Foster was a pioneer stockman, merchant and banker.


PHOTOS

Edwin G. Woolley Home
1940 photograph by Delos H. Smith

Edwin G. Woolley Home
1940 photograph by Delos H. Smith

Woolley-Foster Home       Woolley-Foster Home

WCHS photos:
WCHS-00548     Jon Bowcutt sketch of the Woolley-Foster Home


REFERENCES

Historical Buildings of Washington County (Volume 1), pp. 18-19.

Landmark and Historic Sites: City of St. George
First Edition,   January 2, 2009,   pp. 27-1 through 27-8
Compiled by the St. George Community Development Department

Landmark and Historic Sites: Informational Guide of Historical Sites within the City of St. George
Second Edition,   Revised 2011,   pp. 27-30
Compiled by the St. George Community Development Department

Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Edwin G. Woolley Home
Call Number: HABS UTAH,27-SAGEO,11-
Survey number HABS UT-14
Note: The plaster molding shown in the third photograph is not from the this home, but is actually in the St. George Tabernacle.