Purple Sage Inn History

The Purple Sage Inn, located in Kanab, Utah and now a Bed & breakfast, was built in 1884 for Mormon pioneer William Derby Johnson, Jr., and his four wives.  The house was built in two stages,  phase 1, was a two-story house on the front followed by a one-story addition that became the main entrance. The house is what the Brown’s call a “pioneer Italianate,” a fitting name for a house with the form and style of an Italianate, but without all of the fancy brackets, widow hoods and other decorative trim that might have been used by someone with more resources.

The sociology of the house is even more interesting.  Johnson was Mormon and had four wives. He was forced to leave the United States by the government, which frowned on polygamy. Johnson left for Mexico with two of his wives; one stayed behind and later died, and the government attempted to force another to testify against Johnson in its polygamy case against him. She refused, and later joined him in Mexico. He died in Tucson in 1923.

The next owner of the house was George Naegle, who purchased the home in 1889. He sold it to Alfred Young in 1890. In 1901, Young sold the house to Thomas Cole, who turned it into a hotel. It was during Cole’s ownership that some of its most famous residents stayed there, including the prolific author Zane Grey, who wrote some 90 books.

In 1920, George Hicks bought the home, and it eventually ended up in the hands of Silas Hicks. The Browns bought the home from the Hicks’ estate in 1989. Silas Hicks never married, and he lived in the house until the mid-1980’s. Silas was a World War 1 Veteran and worked for the many movie crews who came to Kanab to film western movies from the 1920’s through the 1960’s.

In 2006, Tory and Kathy Brock, purchased the Historic Home and today, operate as The Purple Sage Inn, Bed and Breakfast.