Despite the cold, a group of about 75 residents, volunteers and community leaders gathered Thursday evening to celebrate the restoration of the 139-year-old historic George Taylor Jr. House.
“If we didn’t have good things like this happening it would be a real loss for the community,” said Provo Mayor John Curtis. “The government can’t do everything — we don’t want it to do everything — so for people to step up and make a project like this happen is just really fabulous.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony not only recognized the volunteer work done by Five Star Painting and Habitat for Humanity of Utah County to renovate the home but welcomed the home’s new owners as well. The Blair family was selected by Habitat for Humanity to purchase the home — a much-needed upgrade from an 800-square-foot duplex.
Jason Leber, brand manager at Five Star Painting, has been busy helping bring life to the Taylor House project for months. On Thursday he was stocking the pantry with donated food for the new owners. He said community outreach is important because it helps give back to the people who have helped his company grow.
“Our company is really based on color and brightening people’s lives, literally and metaphorically. That’s what we focus on,” Leber said.
The new owners of the Taylor House showed their lives have been touched by all the efforts. A few members of the family fought back tears as they received the keys to the home.
Kena Jo Mathews, executive director at Habitat for Humanity of Utah County, said the Taylor House project helps fulfill two missions. The restoration of the home helps revitalize the neighborhood and selling it to a family in need increases home ownership. Habitat for Humanity of Utah County acquired the home a while back and has now sold the home to the Blair family. Mortgage payments will be interest free and used to help pay for other projects.
“Habitat for Humanity gives a hand up, not a handout,” Mathews said.
Also present at the ceremony were several descendant relatives of George Taylor Jr. Erika Taylor, a descendant-granddaughter of Taylor, spoke about her ancestor’s home and said she was happy to help continue “Grandpa Taylor’s legacy of being compassionate.”
Erika’s mother, Karla, was a member of Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week when she found out she would be working at her old family’s home for this year’s project.
“When I received the location of the project I was so excited,” said Karla Taylor, who is married to a descendant of the home’s original owner. “I thought, ‘That address is really familiar.'”
The George Taylor Jr. House was built in the 1880s and is one of only a few remaining homes in Provo that accurately represents the architecture of that time. According to the Taylor family, George Taylor Jr. was the son of Mormon pioneers and was known for often having local Native Americans over to visit.
BYU students may volunteer to help build homes in Utah County by contacting the university’s Habitat for Humanity chapter at the Y-Serve office.