How to spot a “polygamy house” apartment in Utah

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As cities and developers nationwide scramble to convert schools and churches into much-needed housing, Utah has already tapped into a unique apartment-conversion source: houses built for polygamists.

The big picture: You can occasionally find apartments around Utah that once housed plural marriages.

“I’ve definitely heard of a lot of them,” said Jacob Barlow, a Mapleton realtor who blogs about historical sites around Utah.
Why it works: A lot of polygamous families lived — and still live — in homes that were effectively built as multifamily buildings or complexes.

That means you can get a single-family feel but a better layout than your typical Victorian home-to-apartment renovation with paper-thin walls between tenants or a grand fireplace in a studio.
Context: Figuring out which buildings housed polygamous families can be tricky because so many tried to hide their kinship ties when “cohabitation” prosecutions ramped up in the 1880s under federal law.

Property records before that can be patchy, Barlow told Axios. That’s when I found when I tried to research the origin of the so-called sister wife apartment I used to live in.
A lot of husbands built separate homes for their plural wives, so a house belonging to a known polygamist may still have functioned as a typical single-family household.
What’s inside: Look for multifamily buildings with symmetrical layouts and multiple entryways, Barlow said.

Yes, but: Sometimes a duplex is just a duplex.
Zoom out: Cities are increasingly looking to old factories, hospitals, offices, schools and churches to deal with housing shortages, Axios’ Sami Sparber and Simran Parwani report.

Researchers unsurprisingly did not tally polygamy-house-to-apartment conversions.
Case in point: The 1908 Knight-Mangum house in Provo was converted into units used by a polygamous family later in the 20th century — and now provides student housing in apartments, Barlow told Axios.

Meanwhile, in Manti, an 1861 house known locally as “Polygamy House” is listed as apartments for Snow College students.
Zoom in: Here are some more examples of polygamy houses-turned apartments.

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