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South Valley Journal

Riverton couple breathes new life into a historic home

Mar 10, 2021 12:03PM ● By Peri Kinder

The Beckstead-Butterfield home, built in 1897 in Riverton. (Photo courtesy of the Riverton Historical Commission)

By Peri Kinder | [email protected]

When William Beckstead and his wife, Mary Jane, built their eight-room home at 13024 Redwood Road in Riverton in 1897, they had no idea that 124 years later their home would still be standing, and a local family would lovingly preserve and restore the Victorian-era building. 

The Becksteads were farmers and ranchers, and the home had many beautiful features including octagonal bays and colored glass in the upper windows. In November 1897, the Deseret News reported, “W.W. Beckstead of Riverton has moved into his new residence. It is hardly yet completed . . . [but] when finished it will no doubt be one of the finest in the vicinity.”

In 1900, the home was acquired by Beckstead’s brother George who added a two-story, brick barn with stained-glass windows and round towers at the front corners. The castle-like structure was a popular landmark before its demolition in 1968.

Riverton residents Barbara and John Catron purchased the property several years ago. It was their dream to restore the home to its former glory and use it as executive suite office space. Barbara, a distant relation to Beckstead, spent two years getting the property rezoned for commercial use and 18 months restoring the home with her husband.

“I’ve done historical work in the past in Riverton and this property really interested me,” Barbara said. “We’re trying to bring it back to its original state. There’s not a lot of old Riverton left at all. What’s left of old Riverton is either in disrepair or it’s been torn down.”

Called the Beckstead-Butterfield home, the name recognizes the original builders as well as the Butterfield family who were the longest occupants of the home, operating a farm on the property from 1906 to 1950.

Because the home is on track to be added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Catrons were limited in what could be done structurally to the building. To keep the home’s historical status, many features had to be preserved, including a steep staircase that wasn’t up to city codes. With the help of Riverton City, the Catrons worked with building officials to create a beautiful and safe space. 

“We had to keep a lot of things intact but we could reinvent what the space would be,” Barbara said. “Because we wanted the rooms to become executive office suites at some point, we were able to change the flow of the home.”

The house had been in a state of disrepair for several years. It was the last remaining Victorian-era central-block-with-projecting-bays-type home in Riverton that had Queen Anne-style details. It was also the most elaborate Victorian eclectic-style home in the city. 

The Catrons refinished the home, adding beautiful woodwork, including a bannister for the stairs, window treatments and wall paneling. New flooring, windows and landscaping brightened up the rooms and specially-ordered antique doors were sent from Maine for the parlor. 

This isn’t the first time the Catrons have invested in historical property. Barbara and her husband live in the first school and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church house built in Riverton in 1880. John wrote a history of the building and on Memorial Day in 2012, the Catrons hosted a luncheon for 250 descendants of the people who attended the church and school.

“My ancestors helped build it and they also attended church and school there,” she said. “I restored the school house and then built a large colonial home next to the school house in 2011. The schoolhouse is currently being used as a guest cottage on AirBnB. I host people from all around the world in it and they love its history.”

Korral Broschinsky is an architectural historian and preservation consultant, who helped the Catrons submit paperwork to the National Register of Historic Places. As more historic homes are lost to progress, she says it’s more important than ever to save what we can. She credits the Catrons with taking an eyesore and turning it into something beautiful.

“The house is a physical link to a lot of things in the Riverton community that are gone. It’s nice to have something in the community with a touchable past,” Broschinsky said. “It’s wonderful that there are people like Barbara. She saw something in that house. She had a vision of what it could be.”