Tearing down historic Chipman’s Department Store, American Fork Utah, 1992


Caption on photo from American Fork Public Library:

Caption on photo from American Fork Public Library: “This photo was taken February, 1992, just before final demolition of the Chipman store. The last thing to fall was the front part, with the C H I P M A N name still intact.”

In 1962, a position for my father heading the furniture department at Chipman’s Mercantile in American Fork, Utah, prompted our family’s move from Burley, Idaho. We found a home in Pleasant Grove, about five miles south and east of American Fork.

I was rather surprised to find this photo in digital collections I was searching through the Provo, Utah, public library.

Description of the photo:

Title Partial demolition of Chipman’s, formerly Chipman’s Mercantile, on the corner of Main Street, Merchant Street and Center Street. Built in 1884, demolished in 1992.
Description Partial demolition of Chipman’s, formerly Chipman’s Mercantile, on the corner of Main Street, Merchant Street and Center Street. Built in 1884 by James and Stephen L. Chipman. The store was once the biggest department store in Utah County. It was demolished in 1992.
Subject American Fork, (Utah); Business enterprises; Department stores; Wrecking;
Date 1992-02-01
Photographer Peterson, Wanda S.
Rights Copyright 1992 American Fork City. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Publisher Published by American Fork Public Library; Digitized and hosted by Utah Valley University

It’s symbolic of the history of places we lose all too easily.

Plus, it brings back so many memories of the small towns in which I grew up.

Chipman’s played a big role in the development of American Fork, and northern Utah County. The store was an early success, and the Chipman family became locally prominent, and played an interesting role in the development of science education at two Utah universities.

Two Chipman sisters (daughters of James or Stephen Chipman?) married scientists. One married the great chemist, Henry Eyring, who took a position at the University of Utah to stay close to his wife’s family. The other married the great physicist Harvey Fletcher, who took a position at Brigham Young University, again to stay close to his wife’s family.  Harvey Fletcher served on the board of Chipman’s for a time, and bought furniture there. My father asked me to accompany him on a delivery to the Fletcher’s Provo home, probably trying to prompt an interest in science in me. A few years later in Chipman’s store, my father introduced me to the Fletchers’ son, James C. Fletcher, who would later become president of the University of Utah, and then twice head NASA.

Mrs. Fletcher made great cookies. I wasn’t prescient enough to get even autographs from any of them.

On a July day, probably about 1968, during a street fair, the band I played in performed from the back of a flatbed truck on the street to the right of the photo. We discovered Dick Gardiner’s Farfisa organ lost its tuning in the sun.

The site of the store was turned into a parking lot. The Bank of American Fork put up some drive-up tellers on the site later.

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