The Smyth House, in Ogden, UT, is significant as the best example of Victorian Eclecticism in the city, and as one of the best examples of that type in the state of Utah. At the present time no other building in Utah has been identified which combines the elements of several high styles to create so unique a composition. The house is also significant as the residence of the colorful D.A. Smyth, a local businessman who was involved in managing several Ogden companies. The family also hosted several important dignitaries, including President William Howard Taft.
The house located at 645 25th Street in Ogden has been known by a number of names. Some of these include: Nye Vila, Smyth Vila, the Irish Castle, and the Christ the King Convent. The house was designed by a prominent Ogden architect S.T. Whitaker and was built about 1889.
The original owner of the house was Ephraim H. Nye. Nye was part owner in Dalton, Nye and Cannon, a store specializing in stationary, books, and music, and later a partner in Nye and Hobson. In about 1897 Nye and his wife, Harriett, left Ogden and moved to San Francisco. In 1898 Dennis A. Smyth acquired the property but did not move into the house until about 1910.
Dennis A. Smyth was born in 1858 in County Cayan, Ireland. He came to the United States via Scotland in the late 1870’s, settling in Laramie, Wyoming, and worked there for twelve years with the Union Pacific. He went to Ogden in 1889. By 1895 he had become a proprietor of the European Hotel and Diamond Sample Room, residing there until his move to this house. A real estate book entitled Ogden, The Junction City stated that “D.A. Smyth, the general proprietor, boasts for Ogden by keeping one of the finest hotels in the state.” In addition to his proprietorship of the hotel, Smyth was also vice-president of the J.P. O’Neill Construction Company and the Commercial National Bank, and vice-president of the Intermountain Land and Live Stock Company.
In addition to his business dealings, Smyth was a very colorful man, as is illustrated in a letter from his daughter. She explained that her father owned a train macaw, which would ride on a perch in Mrs. Smyth’s Parchard. The bird accompanied the family on trips to Mexico and Yellowstone. During his later years Smyth had lights strung from tree to tree and had wanted to put up colored lights at Christmas, an idea to which Mrs. Smyth sternly objected.
Visitors to the home included President William Howard Taft, to whom Smyth gave a ride up Ogden Canyon “at the high rate of speed of 35 miles an hour, which upset President Taft! He was also visited by Eamen de Valera, president of Ireland and the famous Irish singer and actor, Chauncy Allcot.
Smyth died January 3, 1922, leaving the house to his wife, Mary A. In 1939 Mrs. Smyth deeded the property to D. Lowell Kerrl, and three years later the house was deeded to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake.
The house served as a convent from 1948 through 1967. The Christ the King Convent was run by Our Lady of Victory Mississippi Sisters.
The house was sold to Fred J. Hunger who used the house as a residence and business. Hunger later sold the house to the present owner, Erik and Linda Ward. Mr. and Mrs. Ward restored the home to its original design.