The Lehi Block Company has officially sold off all its remaining building block products and had all of its buildings demolished. For the family that owned the business and Lehi city, it’s mostly been a bittersweet goodbye.
Art Powell started the Lehi Block Company in 1945, laying the concrete slab foundation on Thanksgiving Day. Over the next 75 years, Powell invented a secret recipe for “slump block,” and Lehi Block Company created the pavers and building blocks that went in notable places like Brigham Young University Campus, downtown Salt Lake City, and a building that used to be a studio for the Osmonds, as well as donated materials for the Hutchings Museum.
Powell passed away several years ago, and his four children who were all involved in the business one way or another decided it was finally time to retire a little over a year ago. Terry Powell, the youngest of Art Powell’s children, said it’s been a “long, slow, sad time,” but he’s kept very busy throughout the process.
“I have found some peace, but mostly just a lot of sadness right at the moment,” Terry Powell said. “I’m just not facing it. I’m putting it off, I guess, to deal with when they finally tear down these last couple of buildings and it’s really over.”
The Lehi Block Company property, on the corner of 2100 North and 1200 West, was sold to the Boyer Company, which recently presented plans to the Lehi City Planning Commission to turn the approximately 30-acre property from designated industrial land to a transit oriented development. The plans have since been approved by the planning commission.
A representative from the Boyer Company was not available to comment on the future of the development, but the concept plan presented includes three office buildings between 125,000-150,000 square feet, 15,000 square feet of retail, and 232 multifamily units.
“All these office buildings have just been sweeping at us, almost like a big wave, like a tsunami, and they basically have overtaken us,” Terry Powell said. “It’s just really hit that they’re coming. Progress — here it comes, whether you’re ready or not. And I guess now it is time to move on.”
Terry Powell worked with customer service and customer relations for the company. His most fond memories, he said, are from working with his dad over the years.
“He was just good to work with. He was very straightforward and honest and forthright and it was just good to be around him,” Terry Powell said. “I miss him a lot ... he really did a lot to really build this company up.”
According to Terry Powell, his dad either built or contributed to the building of nearly every building that made up Lehi Block Company. Seeing his handiwork torn down, Terry Powell admitted, is difficult to watch. Besides memories of his father, Terry Powell said it’s also been tough to say goodbye to employees that have been like family over the years.
“I talked to all our customers — I’m going to miss them a lot, as well as employees,” he said. “I’m just having a hard time facing that they’re all going to be gone.”
Terry Powell said he’s also heard a lot from architects and builders, general contractors, masons and so on that the company and it’s quality products will be greatly missed.
“(The company) was a great influence in the market to elevate and bring up a high standard of quality,” he said. “We worked very hard to take care of any concerns or issues or problems and work through them.”
It’s unclear where residents will go to get high-quality block material for large or small-scale projects, now that Lehi Block Company is gone. Powell said he and his family will miss the business — and it’s clear the community will miss them too.
“We built this community in many ways,” Powell said. “It’s very gratifying and sad to see it come to an end.”
For more on the history of the Lehi Block Company, read the Lehi Free Press story here.