University of Utah: Thomas Library (Crocker Science Center) – Salt Lake City UT


The building was designed by the firm of Ashton & Evans and constructed as a PWA project in 1935. In 1969, a new library was built on campus and the Thomas Building was converted into the Utah Museum of Natural History, which recently moved to a new home on the eastern flank of the university. The structure was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The former George Thomas Library is being converted to the Crocker Science Center (with major additions) as of 2016-17.

Of the $20,000,000 spent in Utah by the Public Works Administration (PWA) for public works projects, the “most imposing” of the improvements was the George Thomas “library for the University of Utah….Of modern classic construction, it cost some $500,000. PWA aided its construction and the improvement of other university facilities by making the State of Utah an allotment of $1,206,000.”  (source?)

A 1977 National Register of Historic Places registration form describes the formal characteristics of the structure: “The building is eclectic; obviously designed to blend with the rest of the buildings. The rusticated front entrance is reminiscent of the Second Renaissance Revival. The Neo-Classical cornices over the entrance and around the top of the buildings reflect the Park Building. It was done in concrete and this made it unique at the time. Originally the library was named for George Thomas who was president of the University for twenty years from 1921-1941. In 1968 it was remodeled to become the Utah Museum of Natural History. […] The art deco metal work around the entrance and in the interior, especially the stair rail, is quite nice. The foyer and two and a half feet up the lobby wall is done in birds eye marble found only in Utah County. The original dark oak woodwork remains and some rooms have oak walls. One room has a serpentine cornice of oak indicative of the art deco period. Several other rooms have1930s style cornices in plaster.”

While there is not a contemporaneous marker, there are several recent markers noting PWA funding.

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1977: (, accessed January 20, 2018.

University of Utah, Historic Buildings: (, accessed January 20, 2018.

National Archives Record Group 135-SAR.

Project originally submitted by Joan Greer, Evan Kalish on April 15, 2014.
Additional contributions by Brent McKee, January 20, 2018; Corrinne Fiedler.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Presidents Cir. and 1400 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Coordinates: 40.764242, -111.851103

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