Glamour Fades To Black
These are photographs taken at a last and final lap through the infamous 1970's "Pleasure Palace" on the corner of 800 East and South Temple in Salt Lake City. XMission owner Pete Ashdown and his wife Robin Ballard purchased the largely preserved luxury penthouse apartment with rooftop pool some years ago as a family retreat turned pet project. The building is now being sold and converted into office space. As Ashdown recounted to me, the pleasure was minimal and more of a headache for them the 99 percent of time it wasn't being used for swanky gatherings, editorial photo shoots or other philanthropic endeavors including as headquarters for his two senate races. Mrs. Ballard also put it to good use as the location for her two-person film companys tawdry soap opera web series "Avondale".
One story that floated through its steamy boudoirs amongst party goers was that the penthouse was originally built for an accountant of Ceasars Palace who commissioned their own firm to realize the swanky interior design and decoration. Mrs. Ballard says such a tale is likely inaccurate as she was friends with the original owners neice and that her uncle was the President of Western General Insurance Agency. The agency offered something called "Re-Insurance," whatever that means. The son of the original owner told Ballard that the penthouse was built to house "VIP's, and special clients coming in from Las Vegas, where they did much of their business. He was believed to have had an affair with Miss Norway, who he later took as his second wife after she became pregnant.
Throwing some ghost stories into the mix, Robin also recounted the following; "Some say the building is haunted. One woman who spent much of her childhood playing with her cousins in the penthouse, describes a certain ghost who was inadvertently carried over the Atlantic in a French chain mail suit from the Middle Ages. Her uncle had it shipped over as decoration, to watch guard over the indoor fountain. She said that she personally saw the soldier ghost leave his metal armor and roam the halls at night."
Which ever stories may be true or fabulously embellished truths, the faded glamour of the Pleasure Palace will be remembered by all who walked eyes-wide-open on brightly colored shag carpet through it's glitzy rooms and spanish grotto hallways. To many, including myself, it was one of the coolest architectural and interior treasures to ever to be rescued, revived and celebrated in the city. Bravo!