The Men & Women Who Built Lehi: Broadbent son led Lehi to get its power plant
Lara M. Bangerter | Lehi Historical Society and Archives
Editor’s Note: Last week’s column featured Joseph Lees Broadbent, founder of Broadbent & Son, the longest-running family-owned business in Lehi. This week’s column highlights Joseph Samuel Broadbent, the “& Son,” in Broadbent & Son.
Joseph Samuel Broadbent was a force for good in Lehi his entire life.
The “& Son” in Broadbent & Son was Joseph, whose influence reached far and wide. He was the manager of the now-famousLehi store, while his father, Joseph Lees, focused on jewelry and watch repair. In Joseph Samuel’s capable hands, the general store grew from a small attachment to the family home to theflourishing mercantile serving multiple generations of Lehi shoppers.
During his 50+ years of management, he was never forced to pay interest on borrowed money. He was known for the parties he held to raise funds for various needs, and according to family histories, he gave away many pairs of shoes and hundreds of pounds of flour to those in need.
He also served 14 years on the Lehi City Council and three consecutive terms as mayor of Lehi from 1922-1928. During this time, he was involved from beginning to end in the creationand construction of the Veterans Memorial Building, known today as the Hutching Museum building.
For $55,000, it was the first municipal facility erected in America to the memory of World War I veterans. It was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 31, 1926. The Carnegie Library, built on the north end of the Memorial Building, was also completed during his tenure.
According to Lehi historian Richard Van Wagoner in Lehi: Portraits of a Utah Town, “The most controversial project of Mayor Broadbent’s administration was the implementation of a local power generating plant.”
When Utah Power and Light Company notified the mayor inJune of 1925 that the electricity rate for Lehi’s 183 streetlights was tripling from 90 cents to $3 per month, Mayor Broadbent and his council voted to develop their own municipal works.
“… city officials recommended during a June 12, 1926, mass meeting that a special bond election be held to undertake the project. Citizens approved the $18,500 bond on June 15, 1926; the day city workers removed all 183 light bulbs from the Utah Power and Light sockets to avoid the rate increase.
“For the next twelve months, the town’s streets were dark at night.”
Lehi’s power plant, located at 300 North and 500 West, was Utah’s first municipal facility to use diesel generators. It officially opened on June 15, 1927.
“After initiating a test case before the Utah Supreme Court, which affirmed that Lehi’s municipal power plant was legal, [Lehi] expanded its generating capacity to provide residential electricity.
“Eighty percent of Lehi homes had signed up for this power by the fall of 1929, and the municipality remained in the power-generating business until 1946.”
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The second of eight children and oldest son, Joseph Samuel Broadbent, was born on November 3, 1863, in Lehi to Joseph Lees Broadbent and Sarah Ann Dixon. His formal education consisted of approximately eight months of school attendanceover four years. He loved music and sang in the glee club and a prominent men’s chorus.
He married Amanda Hermandine Twede in 1889 and had sixchildren with her. He was called to and accepted a two-year mission to Great Britain for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1896-1898. Amanda was left with four small children to attend to. Joseph’s sister, Geneva, stepped in to manage the store.
Amanda died Apr. 26, 1905. On Jan. 10, 1906, he married Annie Shaw, an English girl he had baptized on his mission. In total, he had 13 children. Joseph Samuel died unexpectedly on Feb. 4, 1937.
If you know someone instrumental in the building of or success of Lehi, please submit your 1000-word or less write-up on the person along with photos to email@example.com for consideration for use in this series. For more information, call 801-768-1570.