Named for a pioneering home economics professor at BYU, the Warnick House provided modest cooperative housing for BYU women when housing was short in Provo.
Born April 8, 1883 in Pleasant Grove, Utah, approximately ten miles away from Brigham Young Academy (BYA), Effie Warnick enrolled in BYA’s Normal School when she was seventeen-years-old. After finishing the two-year teaching program, she taught for about ten years before enrolling at Utah State Agricultural College in Logan, where by 1914 she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in food and nutrition. After several years spent teaching first in Cedar City and then in Lehi, in 1922 Warnick returned to her alma mater, the rechristened Brigham Young University, to continue her career as a home economics instructor.
For the next thirty-one years, Warnick was a beloved leader on campus and a pioneer in home economics. She served as president of the Utah State Home Economics Association from 1924 to 1925, and by 1927 she was an assistant professor at BYU; in 1935, she became a full professor. During this time, Warnick continued her own lifelong learning and obtained a Masters degree in Home Management from Iowa State College in 1937. And when BYU built its first women’s dorm in 1939, Warnick stepped up to serve as matron.
Warnick chaired the Home Economics Department for twenty-five years, from 1923 to 1948, and she broadened BYU’s vision of what studying home and family could mean. In a posthumous tribute, Virginia Poulson and Angelyn Wadley reported that under Warnick’s direction, “the focus changed from separate homemaking skills to a focus on the family with increased emphasis on management problems and relationships of family members. Effie was years ahead of her time.” To Warnick, home economics was more than discrete skills; understanding the home meant understanding people, and that meant studying social sciences and more. Warnick’s expansive Home Economics Department became the forerunner to BYU’s modern College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.
In 1942, defense workers supporting America’s World War II effort flooded Provo, creating a housing shortage for students. To alleviate the situation, BYU purchased a home near campus to use as student housing, and Warnick directed its conversion into a “co-op house” where student housemates worked together to manage the home. BYU dubbed the building “Warnick House,” fittingly naming it after the pioneering professor who dedicated her life to scholarly study of the home. Warnick House hosted its first cohort of students, whom Y News called the “sweet sixteen,” in 1943, and the Banyan yearbook reported that in their arrangement, “girls who live in one room cook together, and all cooperate on the general upkeep of the home.”
Warnick achieved emeritus status in 1953. In 1963, she suffered a head injury from a serious fall, and she died on January 16, 1965, in Pleasant Grove.
Warnick housed women students at least until 1952 but changed to male student housing by 1956, perhaps because BYU built the larger Heritage Halls to house women students. How long BYU maintained Warnick as student housing after that is not completely clear. Sometime before and until 1976, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU’s sponsor, used Warnick as housing for sister missionaries. In 1992, BYU sold Warnick House, and it became a privately-owned single-family dwelling. Warnick House still stands today. Passersby can see the exterior, but it is not open to the public.