Thursday, July 23, 2015

When Ogden's Berthana opened in 1915


“Opening of the Berthana is a brilliant social success” was the May 27, 1915 headline in the Standard-Examiner of the building’s debut.
The story stated that the facility, located on 24th Street, between Grant and Hudson avenues,. has “given the younger generation an environment of wonderful attractiveness.”
It was also explained that the building’s title was a composite name, in honor of Mrs. Bertha Eccles and Mrs. Anna T. Dee.
The ballroom at the Berthana was 120 feet long and 80 feet wide. Many dances took place there over the decades, where undoubtedly many young people met their spouses to be.
The facility also originally included a men’s smoking room.
The Thomas D. Dee Company and the David Eccles Estate made the building’s construction possible. Utah Governor William Spry spoke at the Berthana’s opening night gala and said “It stands as one of the marks of the ‘Ogden spirit.’” After that speech, the better part of some 600 guests eagerly tried out the dance floor.
“It is impossible to describe all the wonderful features embodied in the building and the care with which it has been constructed,” the Standard report stated.
The Standard also listed alphabetically, all 600 or so of the invited guests to the grand opening.
(After more than 40 years of being empty, the Berthana building – now over 100 years old -- has recently been remodeled for some $750,000 and today houses a variety of businesses.)
In other historical tidbits:
-West Weber hosted a large July 24th Pioneer Day celebration back in 1880. A marching brass band got things going, followed by speeches, singing, games, horse and foot races.
Some 70 pounds of candy nuts were given to children, while 60 gallons of homemade beer and 80 gallons of lemonade were available for free too.
There were no drunks, fights or quarrels at the festivities, according to the Standard report from July 31, 1880.
-The town of Hooper also had a big Pioneer Day celebration on July 24, 1883. As reported in the Standard on July 27th that year, T.S. Johnson delivered an impressive speech on the history of the pioneers and the LDS Church, recounting some of the miracles that occurred in traveling to the territory.
Strangely, four children illustrated the evils and the high cost of having a chewing tobacco habit during the program. Games, foot and horse racing followed, with an evening dance.
Charles Parker was the “Marshall of the Day, with John Flinders as Chaplain. James Beus, Sam Ridout, Eli Spaulding and George Fowers were on the Committee of Arrangements for the event.

(-Originally published on-line and in print on July 23-24, 2015, in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, by Lynn Arave.)

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