When the wealthy Civil War veteran Colonel William Montague Ferry arrived in Park City in 1878, he found a bustling silver mining camp bristling with investment opportunities. He and wife Jeanette formed a water company, pushed for boardwalks, invested in several mines and pursued culture and education in every possible way.
They also purchased 160 acres at the mouth of Thaynes Canyon. In 1890 they completed construction on a large wooden Victorian mansion. Reports buzzed through the little silver mining town of fine furnishings, stained glass windows and fireplaces in every room.
According to historical accounts, aft er the upstanding gentleman’s death, the Ferry home was sold to the Silver King Consolidated Mining Company in 1915. Thomas Kearns, a U.S. Senator from Utah, was a principal in the firm, and his family enjoyed spending summers at the house. The property eventually became known as the Ferry-Kearns mansion and the Kearns family raised thoroughbred horses and purebred cattle on the property. Eventually, a dude ranch became operational. Unfortunately, with the Great Depression and the start of WWII, the ranch was forced to close. For many years the structure sat abandoned.
Then in 1973, the Ferry-Kearns Mansion was purchased by Rae Ann Prescott who saved the dilapidated building and had it moved to a plot in Holiday Ranch, a section of Park Meadows in Park City. A year later, upon her untimely death from a horseback riding accident, the restorations were abruptly halted.
The home then passed through many hands; two Texans added a separate structure as an apartment above the garages around 1980. During the construction additions, interesting historical artifacts were recovered including original miners’ time-cards and Silver King supply lists.
Today, the latest owners of the Ferry-Kearns Mansion declare they “are only current caretakers” of this magnificent home.
Their contractor, Derek Marley of Marley Construction and his wife Jenn, had a team of craftsmen working around the clock to seamlessly connect the two structures with their now 11-foot ceilings. “We wanted it to look as if it was originally designed exactly this way,” Derek says, pointing to a grand staircase erected to complete the unification between the original structure and a new section that encompasses a gourmet kitchen.
The enlarged kitchen features period-specific black soapstone countertops, clean lines of white hardwood cabinets, two marble-topped islands and a coffered ceiling creating the heart of this grand home. A butler’s pantry rests inside what was once a steam shower room.
Directly off the kitchen is a galley way where the owners will pay homage to the home’s history by placing photos, prints and articles detailing the story of their home saved from the wrecking ball in 1973.
The foyer displays grand Victorian-style wallpaper, wainscoting, a Fontainebleau red oak flooring motif and a chandelier chosen for period authenticity.
Five bedrooms and nine bathrooms grace the manor house and its guest wing. Rosettes on top of each doorway mimic the original molding adding one of many wow factors. A classic floral beveled glass design reminiscent of the old house was supplied by Andersen Windows to complement transoms and various casements in the completed home.
The mansion originally sported a turret room so Marley Construction built a second turret room to add uniformity and, in turn, create an extraordinary music room for the family. Th e ceiling was raised drawing the eyes upward to admire more fine carpentry and inset lighting along the perimeter octagonal spire.
Carefully constructed in the basement is a wine cellar designed to look and feel like a mine tunnel with stacked stone slate walls. Rough-cut beams and boards were added to complete the cellar ceiling. To enhance the silver mining theme, large photos trim the walls of miners working in the 1890s Daly-West silver mine. Th ese photos are also a homage to the original designer of the mansion, as the silver mine was partially owned by Colonel Ferry.
A pond and waterfalls on the beautifully landscaped, nearly three-acre lot also provide a private skating rink come winter. Completely restored as per original photos, verandas encircle the 8,800 square foot home on all sides.
A love of Victorian architecture, Park City’s silver mining history and a desire to preserve the home of a Civil War colonel burn brightly within the hearts of the “current caretakers” of the Ferry-Kearns Mansion.
by Ani Robertson