Salt Lake City’s Historic Mormon Chapels

Salt Lake 20th Ward

Salt Lake 20th Ward

Peggy Fletcher Stack’s recent article in the Salt Take Tribune on historic Mormon meetinghouses is definitely worth a read.  Stack’s question about who decides which of the LDS Church’s buildings will be renovated and which will not is an important one, especially in light of the 1971 razing of the Coalville Tabernacle.  The fate of the tabernacle clearly had a galvanizing effect on Utah’s historic perservationist community, and helped to bring preservation-related issues to the attention of many of the state’s citizens, LDS and non-LDS alike.

Yale Ward

Yale Ward

“In recent years,” Stack writes, the LDS Church “has developed a systematic way to manage the tension between the desire to preserve historic structures and the reality of contemporary congregational needs.”  Naturally, money plays a part in the decision-making.  “If one of these historic chapels needs a major repair,” writes Stack, “such as replacing a roof, boiler system or plumbing—Salt Lake City’s codes may require the church to include costly seismic or other upgrades.  Such upgrades could make renovations impractical.”

But decisions aren’t necessarily top-down edicts.  According to Steve Olsen of the LDS Church’s historic sites committee, judgments about properties  with historical value are “are negotiated in good faith by all parties involved—from the physical-facilities managers to local ecclesiastical leaders to architects and historians.”

Salt Lake 2nd Ward

Salt Lake 2nd Ward

Don’t miss the Tribune’s multimedia tour of such architectural gems as the Highland Park Ward (2535 Douglas Street), Salt Lake 20th Ward (107 G Street), and Forest Dale Ward (729 E. Ashton Avenue) meetinghouses.


6 responses to “Salt Lake City’s Historic Mormon Chapels

  1. Thanks for this post. As I drive around Salt Lake I’m all the time amazed at the rich religious architectural heritage we have.

  2. I’m with you, Jared, when it comes to being amazed by SLC’s and Utah’s architectural heritage. I remember seeing the Forest Park chapel for the first time and thinking that it could not possibly be an LDS meetinghouse because of its classical style and dome.

    At the same time, I’m also cognizant of what we’ve lost. The Coalville Tabernacle was torn down the year I was born, and I’ve often thought about how things could have turned out very differently.

  3. Thanks for this, Brandon. I’ve never seen that Yale Ward cultural hall before. The basketball hoops and court look out of place.

    Do you have a favorite historic LDS chapel?

  4. Christopher-

    I’d have to say I’m partial to the Forest Dale chapel, mainly for its classical style, but also because it was the first early-twentieth-century LDS chapel to which I was exposed.

    I also really like the Salt Lake 2nd Ward chapel. Its stained glass window depicting the First Vision is quite stunning

  5. In my comment responding to Jared’s comment, “Forest Park” should read “Forest Dale.” A slip of the finger.

  6. I wish more ward buildings would incorporate visual and artistic architecture. Once in awhile I run across historic church buildings and am amazed and inspired. I think it ads to the meaning and reverence of what goes on there.

    I’ve seen the Salt Lake 2nd Ward chapel too… it’s really quite beautiful.

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