Wednesday, 8 December 2021, is a significant day in the history of MHTN Architects. It marks the passing of Elden Talbot, the “T” in MHTN. A position in our firm name reserved for the influential and visionary second-generation Principals group. A history that continues to span 98 years to date, and in no small part, is directly attributable to the life and work of Elden Talbot. Together with his partners at the time, Fred Montmorency and David Hayes, Elden established the cannons of ethical business practices, stunning and appropriate architecture, fiscal competence, and thoughtful public responsibility that form the foundations of MHTN’s corporate mission and identity today.
Elden Talbot’s life spanned 89 years. A life marked by multiple and significant accomplishments in the development of Utah’s built environment. For example, the majority of his Architectural career saw him working together with ten K-12 school Utah districts, to develop their school facilities. Facilities that have made positive impacts on the education of countless children in Utah. His reputation as one of Utah’s foremost school Architects, prompted the Tooele School District to seek him out in 1984, and hire him to rebuild Grantsville High School after it was completely destroyed in an arson fire.
The District, desperate to have the facility replaced as quickly as possible, consulted with multiple districts in the state who’s consensus recommendation was that Elden Talbot was the Architect they needed. The school was designed and built, with Elden’s leadership, in (10) months while incorporating innovative, ahead of its time, sustainable heating and electrical systems in support of the District’s pedagogy. 2021 also marked Elden’s recognition by AIA Utah as one of our community’s Architectural Legends for his contributions to the people of Utah.
Elden’s life was also significantly marked by his service to his country, his church, his family and the people of MHTN. After graduating from the University of Utah School of Architecture and ROTC training in 1954, and with the Korean conflict raging, Elden was sent to Fort Lewis Washington as an Army Operations Officer with the rank of Lieutenant. It was somewhat unusual for a Lieutenant to be given the responsibilities of regiment operations, but Elden’s organizational skills made it a good fit, and he excelled.
Elden’s faith and service to the LDS Church, was always an important part of his life. He lived his faith, exhibiting unwavering adherence to ethical business practices as well as thoughtful and respectful regard for people and their needs at all times. He held multiple service positions in the Church. He is the patriarch of a large family including many grandchildren. They are doctors, lawyers, military service wives, contractors, teachers, information technology directors and specialists, and on and on. Elden’s influence and guidance is clearly visible in their service to their communities and the kindness and consideration they practice in their lives.
Elden mentored many young professionals during his long architectural career. During that time his method of teaching did not solely rely on providing lessons in the business and the art of architecture. Elden’s mentorship meant that paying close attention to the way he conducted himself every day provided invaluable lessons on ethics, the kind and respectful treatment of people, empathy, leadership, decisiveness, humor, organization, and what it means to be a truly good person. While Elden’s passing is a great loss, we at MHTN take solace in knowing what his life well lived has meant to our community. And to those of us who were fortunate enough to have worked with him, learned from him, and admired him. He will always be remembered as the “T” in MHTN.
Earlier this year AIA Utah interviewed Elden for a “Legendary Utah Architect” piece. This interesting piece can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tch4QVw7VVs&t=175s