Two men figure most prominently in the history of Devereaux House.
William Staines was the original occupant of this property. Staines was an English-born horticulturist whose dedication to his "mission to beautify Zion" helped establish the rich landscape tradition which has since characterized Salt Lake City.
A convert to the Mormon faith, Staines, arrived in Salt Lake City in 1847. He acquired the property in 1855 and developed a cottage-style home in the midst of extensive English gardens. He later served as superintendent of Brigham Young's gardens.
William Jennings purchased the property in 1867 and developed the present Devereux House, incorporating Staines' original cottage in the expanded structure.
Jennings was also an English convert to the Mormon church. Arriving in Salt Lake City in 1852, he entered the mercantile business. Taking advantage of the business opportunities of a rapidly-growing regional center, Jennings branched out into freighting and banking, becoming Utah's first millionaire. In 1864 he founded the Eagle Emporium, which was later sold to the Mormon church and became the forerunner of the present-day ZCMI department store. In 1882 Jennings was elected Mayor of Salt Lake City, serving one term.
A hospitable and gracious host, Jennings entertained the famous and influential of the day. Devereaux House was the scence of lavish dinners and accommodated such prominent guests as Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes, and General William T. Sherman.