Though Orem wasn't incorporated as its own municipality until 1919, the area was home to many residents as early as the 1860s and 1870s.
According to historic reports through the National Register of Historic Places, before it became the Town of Orem and eventually the City of Orem, the area was known as the "Provo Bench."
Many of the earliest residents of the Provo Bench were fruit farmers, and State Street at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century was home to many orchards. Heading down State Street at the time, meant going past many fruit stands.
Orem was incorporated on May 5, 1919, but some of the historic homes and buildings still stand throughout the city today.
These buildings are all either listed on the National Register of Historic Places, have been designated as Historic Marker Sites or are listed as local Historic Register Sites.
-Stacy Johnson, Daily Herald
Lars and Christina Olsen House
This home at 417 S. 800 East in Orem was originally built as an adobe and stucco house in 1887. According to the National Register of Historic Places, the north portion of the house was constructed first, and the southern part was added in about 1894. There were also later additions and alterations to the home.
Lars Olsen bought the property in 1885 and walked from Provo to this area of the "Provo Bench" for two years while he built the house, according to the National Register of Historic Places.
Lars ran a fruit orchard nearby, and after his son Otto was married, he moved into the house and managed the orchards.
According to the National Register, Otto Olsen was a fan of boxing and boxing practices with Jack Dempsey took place in the home's kitchen when Dempsey was young.
Joshua Davis House
This home at 1888 S. Main St. in Orem was originally built between 1892 and 1896 by Joshua Davis, who served as the Sheriff of Utah County, serving in many of the conflicts with Native Americans at the time in Utah Valley, according to the listing with the National Register of Historic Places.
Davis lived in the home with his children from three wives, according to the National Register of Historic Places and the Orem Historic Preservation Advisory Commission. He owned the land in what is now Orem from 1300 South to approximately 2000 South along the Provo border, which was used by Davis to plant fruit trees as he made his living as a fruit farmer.
Along with serving as a sheriff, Davis was a member of the Quorum of the Seventies for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He lived in the home until his death in 1904, the National Register of Historic Places states.
Though it has undergone several remodels and additions, the Timpanogos Chapel at 440 E. 800 South is the oldest church building in Orem. It was built by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1895.
According to historical reports from Orem City, the chapel replaced a building that was used as a chapel and school that was located just west of the current building. The building was used as a church building, as well as a community center for civic functions.
It is still used today as a meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
William James and Edna Cordner House
This building at 440 S. State St. was originally built by William Cordner in 1898. His family was one of the first to settle in the "Provo Bench" area and, like many of the early Orem settlers, was involved in the fruit growing industry.
According to the National Register of Historic Places, State Street at the time was lined with fruit stands and orchards. The home was surrounded by 17 acres that Cordner used for his orchards. The Cordner family owned the home until 1942 when it was sold to John G. and Iva C. Fisher, who lived in the home for six years. The property was then sold to the Orem Veteran's Council, who owned it for 30 years. In 1978, the building was converted into a flower shop/nursery called the Planted Earth.
Today, the building is surrounded by an active commercial district and is home to the Planted Earth store.
Olmsted Power Plant
Located at the mouth of Provo Canyon, the Olmsted Power Plant became operational in 1904, according to the National Register of Historic Places. Originally owned by the Telluride Power Company and later by Utah Power and Light Company, the plant supplied the area up to 50 miles away with electric power.
The plant began as the brainchild of Lucien L. Nunn, a Colorado miner who saw the need for an inexpensive, reliable power source to power mine mills. (Fred) Olmsted, an engineer from Michigan, designed the wooden flume from the Provo River diversion to the new location as well as the generating station.
The plant ran through 2015, when it was decommissioned from use. In September 2018, a new plant opened on the grounds, which now provides hydropower to more than 40 million Americans.
The old building is now home to a museum that shows photos of the old campus and items used in everyday life from the blacksmith tools to the old non-electric clothing irons used by students and residents in the small enclave.
The Knight-Finch House in Orem was built by a local fruit grower Newell James Knight, older brother of Jesse Knight. It was built in 1909 and was used a a private residence until 1974 when it was converted to a business. It has been used to house various businesses since.
Today it is home to The Chocolate Dessert Cafe at 212 S. State St. in Orem.
Sims McBride Garage
This commercial building at 600 N. State St. in Orem was built about 1920 as a garage and service station at a time when the automobile was just beginning to make its entrance in the area.
According to the National Register of Historic Places, the building was one of the few commercial structures built at the time on State Street, and is especially notable because of its brick construction. Most of the other structures in the area at the time were made of wood, and the area mainly consisted of fruit stands.
Sims McBride built the garage and owned it until 1928, when it was sold to an investment company and then sold to Fera Decker, who was a prominent citizen in Orem. His son Wayne Decker ran the garage until 1945, when it was sold to Roy Sumter and Reed Fietkau. The garage was then called the Orem Auto Electric, according to the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the building is home to Scissor and Bone Barber Shop.
Timpanogos Cooperative Marketing Association Building
Built in 1926, this building was part of the Salt Lake and Utah Electric Interurban Railroad depot station.
Today the building at 380 S. Orem Blvd. is home to Artist Corner and Clean Fuels.
Former Sharon Seminary Building
According to historical records, the building at 777 S. State St. in Orem was built to house the Seminary program for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Lincoln High School students. It was built just west of the high school and was dedicated by Elder David O. McKay, of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1931, according to Orem City records.
The building was used for 25 years for Lincoln High students until a new Orem High School was completed 1956, when it was used as a seminary building for Lincoln Junior High School students.
It was used for a time by the Orem Commission for Economic Development before it was remodeled and turned into the Orem Heritage Museum, run by the SCERA Center for the Arts, in 2012.
SCERA Center for the Arts
Listed as a Local Historical Marker Site, the SCERA Theater was built in 1941.
The nonprofit organization, Sharon’s Cultural, Education, Recreational Association, begain in 1933, with the goal of bringing together the community to enjoy the arts.
The SCERA Center for the Arts came about several years later as the organization’s movie night grew in popularity. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated the land for the SCERA building. The building supplies were financed through $25 bonds purchased by area families, as well as donated labor and materials.
A few more ...
Samuel Nephi and Sarah Sixsmith Skinner House
Location: 106 W. 1200 South, Orem
Thomas Barrett Farmstead
Location: 63 N. 400 West, Orem
Built: 1894, with alterations and additions in 1935
Location: 468 S. Main St., Orem
David and Drusilla Baxter House
Location: 206 W. 1600 North, Orem
George and Temperance Adams House
Built: 1895, with a substantial addition in 1903
Location: 196 W. 400 South, Orem
Built: 1896, with addition in 1910
Location: 305 S. 900 East, Orem
Location: 815 E. 800 South, Orem
John Y. and Christina H. Walker House
Built: 1900, with additions in the 1940s and 1950s
Location: 1938 N. 400 West, Orem
John C. and Sarah E. Snow House
Location: 205 E. 1200 South, Orem
Joseph B. and Louisa Person Clark House
Location: 107 W. 1600 North, Orem
Joseph A. Wilkinson House
Location: 318 S. 800 West, Orem
Alfred and Rosy Skinner House
Location: 232 W. 800 South, Orem
Norman T. and Lucy E. Davis House
Location: 26 W. 2000 South, Orem
William J. and Lizzie Cullimore House
Location: 396 W. 1600 North, Orem
Bartl and Mary Nelson Gappmayer House
Location: 144 E. 1200 South, Orem
Charles R. and Hazel F. Gillman House
Location: 263 W. 1600 North, Orem
Alexander and Nellie P. Cordner
Location: 415 S. 400 East, Provo
James W. and Estella Walker Gillman House
Location: 297 W. 1600 North, Orem
John E. Caroline F. Christensen House
Location: 426 W. 400 South
James A. Loveless House
Location: 509 E. 800 South, Orem
Location: 275 E. 2000 South, Orem
Susan Heaton House
Location: 247 S. 400 West, Orem
Marlin H. and Brenda J. Siebach House
Location: 987 W. 1600 North
Lewis and Isabel Gappmayer House
Location: 204 E. 1200 South, Orem
George F. Carroll House
Location: 275 S. 400 West, Orem
Philo Edwards House
Location: 549 E. 800 South, Orem
Theodore Farley Jr. Farmstead
Location: 352 W. 400 South, Orem
Roy H. and Florence B. Gappmayer House
Location: 95 E. 1200 South, Orem
Alvin and Grace Washburn House
Built: 1938, with basement addition in 1980
Location: 753 N. 100 West, Orem
John S. and Izola Lewis House
Location: 343 E. 720 South, Orem
Jesse W. Cordner House
Location: 497 E. 400 South, Orem
W. Doyle and Nettie Marie Peterson Cranney House
Location: 624 S. 400 East, Orem
Cecil I. and Mildred H. Dimick House
Location: 575 W. 800 North, Orem