Jens Nielson House (Four Gables)
Jens Nielson, the first LDS bishop of Bluff, built this house for his first wife, Elsie.
Nielson was born in 1820 in Denmark and, in 1856, traveled across the plains to Salt Lake City in a Mormon handcart battalion.
Built by Nielson in the late 1880′s or early 1890′s, this brick house was originally similar in design to the stone house built by Nielson in the same block.
Nielson’s first wife, Elsie Rasmussen Nielson, lived in this house. Elsie Rasmussen was born in Ile Lolland, Denmark, January 29, 1820. She met her future husband while they were working as field hands. A quiet, unassuming woman, she lived to make others happy and comfortable. She was responsible for the planting of the mulberry trees which can still be found in Bluff.
She was known to be industrious, careful, and sensible. Her first child, a son named Jens, died on the trip West. Three additional children, Agnes, Julia and Mary, were born in the West.
Prior to pioneering in Bluff, Jens Nielson built homes in Parowan, Paragonah and Cedar City, Utah. Nielson built a stone house on the same block for Kirsten Jensen Nielson, his second wife.
The Nielson House and Mill was significantly altered in the 1950’s when the second story was removed. At this time, the front porch was also enclosed and transformed into a bathroom. It appears the materials from the second story were reused in the building of an apartment onto the lower story’s south side. The remodeled building was then entirely stuccoed, and a simple gable roof was added. A shed roof was built over the apartment.
In 1991, the present owner restored the original cross-wing, two-story form with the four gables. The lower story stucco finish was retained. The upper story is sheathed in ceder shingles laid in a staggered pattern, and the restored second story roof reproduces the original steep pitch of the gables. Originally, the lower story featured windows on all four walls. The window on the south wall is now obscured by the present-day southern apartment building. Each wall has two windows; one single double-hung, and one coupled double-hung window. Red brick arches adorn each window. The doorways, one on the north porch, one in the west wall, and one in the south wall, have transoms over their lintels.
Existing major alterations to this building are the new, upper story and the attached apartment on the south side. The upper story exhibits architectural elements and materials that are consistent with the local vernacular architecture. The apartment does not contribute to the character of the building.
The house has had several owners in recent history, and after serving as a restaurant and an inn, the Jens Nielson gables house is now a private residence.