Discovering Great Mormon Buildings

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Brooklyn Branch Chapel Floor Plan

Main Floor Plan
-Classroom with a small closet at each side adjacent to the choir.
-Cloak room and toilet at each side adjacent to the entrance vestibule.
-Stairs lead down to lower floor.
-Perfectly symmetrical plan on vertical axis.

This is an example of a redrawn floor plan, based on original drawings, that I will be including in this book for as many of the significant buildings as I am able to find. As with all other images on this site, do not use this drawing without permission.

265 Gates Ave
Brooklyn, NY
Architect: Pope and Burton
Built 1918; Dedicated 1919; Sold 1963
Now Evening Star Baptist Church (aka Church of the Red Door)
Map Location of Building


Brooklyn Branch Chapel Exterior

Fantastic modern chapel designed for the Brooklyn Branch by architects Pope and Burton. Dedicated Feb 16, 1919 in three sessions by Apostle Reed Smoot.

Those on the program included:
Reed Smoot, Quorum of the Twelve
Harvey Fletcher, physicist credited with invention of the hearing aid
Rudger Clawson, President of the Twelve

265 Gates Ave
Brooklyn, NY
Architect: Pope and Burton
Built 1918; Dedicated 1919; Sold 1963
Now Evening Star Baptist Church (aka Church of the Red Door)
Map Location of Building


Manhattan Ward Chapel (purchased)

The first LDS Chapel owned in Manhattan was bought from the Central Christian Church, otherwise known as the Disciples of Christ in April 1945. The first services were held the following month in May. At this time, the ward had 330 permanent members. But out-of-town visitors usually made up about 80 percent of the congregation. It was thought to be the most transient ward in the Church. This new chapel had a seating capacity of 600. About 60 feet long and 40 feet high, the chapel had high arches, stained glass windows, a pipe organ, hardwood-paneled walls and clerestory windows. Considerable cleaning was done on the building totaling 500 hours of labor by the members. And improvements totaling $15,000 to all three floors were planned over the next two years. Originally built in 1892, I am unsure when the building stopped being used and sold. It now appears to be owned by the Mount Pleasant Christian Academy and Baptist Church. (Info from Church News, June 23, 1945, page 8)

142 West 81st Street
New York City, NY
Built 1892
Purchased 1945
Map Location of Building


Clearfield Ward Exterior


I don’t have much info on this building yet, but will be researching some of its history in the next week. My guess is it was built in the early 1900′s. It has probably been vacant and in disrepair for many years, especially as the homes and town moved away from Main street. I am surpised it is still standing at all, considering the industrialized neighborhood. A wonderful building, though.

Here is a 1935 painting of the building by LeConte Stewart
Utah State Historical Society photo of building

380 S Main St
Clearfield, UT
Built ??
Now vacant and in great disrepair, used for storage
Map Location of Building


Porterville Ward Detail

Built 1898
Sold 1942 and remodeled into a private residence
Destroyed by fire in 2000
Map Location of Building


Porterville Ward Exterior


Built 1898
Sold 1942 and remodeled into a private residence
Destroyed by fire in 2000

This meetinghouse is located on a beautiful site, elevated above the town and the river running adjacent. Built of a stone base and brick structure in 1898, the building cost around $5000 to construct. Containing a single large chapel space on the main floor, the room was able to be subdivided by curtains for Sunday School classes. The basement was an open hall for activities and dances. The original design contained a weather vane and a bell tower above the entry door on the west side.

The building is currently for sale.

1920 photo showing the main entry with original tower.
Here is an image of the building as a private residence prior to the fire.

Additional information:
The Old Porterville Ward
Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture & City Planning by C. Mark Hamilton, pg 88-89.
Wikipedia entry on Porterville, Utah


Centerville Young Men’s Hall Demolition


85 S 300 E
Centerville, UT
Built c. 1873

This building was originally a single-story, one-room stone building located across the street from the Centerville 1st Ward meetinghouse. A Centerville Young Men’s Club, which included B.H. Roberts as a member, built this small rock building in about 1873 at a cost of $700. Their desire was to have a place to discuss philosophy, astronomy and other such topics as well as to house a library for their books. To join the club, membership fees were collected, and weekly meetings were spent discussing books. Lack of attendance or preparation for the discussion meant a fine would be charged to help purchase new books. Eventually this club was changed into the newly organized Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, probably in 1877, the date listed on a plaque found in the attic of the building. B. H. Roberts was elected as the first president. Shortly after, the building was also used by the Young Women, and after 1880, by the Primary. Sold in 1917, the building was converted to a residence around 1920, at which time a hip roof, side rooms and a covered front porch were added. There is also a garage and agriculture building on site, both of which were built at this time. The home, which retains its historic integrity, contributes to the historic qualities of Centerville and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Today it remains as a rare surviving example of a rare building type. However, the current owner has just recently applied for a demolition permit for the building since it will be cheaper to raze than to attempt additional preservation efforts. The building is currently being rented and is in some level of disrepair as can be seen in the roof soffit.

For more information on the building:
National Register Nomination Form
National Register Photos


San Bernardino 1st Ward Chapel Interior


I was quite surprised by the interior of this building, especially the radial layout placed inside a rectangular exterior. What it provides is a nice space for support rooms behind the rostrum. All of the pews, pulpit, and even choir seats appear to be intact from the original design.

901 F Street
San Bernardino, CA
Built 1933; Sold 1975?
Architect: William Harber
Now Iglesia Cristiana Bautista
Map Location of Building


Hollywood Stake Tabernacle Detail

1209 S Manhattan Pl
Los Angeles, CA
Built 1928
Architect: Pope and Burton
Map Location of Building


Chevy Chase Ward Chapel Interior

5460 Western Ave
Chevy Chase, MD
Map Location of Building


Chevy Chase Ward Meetinghouse Exterior


Located at the western edge of Washington DC, across the street into Maryland, this building is the current meeting place of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. From what I understand, he attends this ward more often than his ward in Nevada. If Mitt Romney becomes President of the United States in November and moves into the White House, this building is where he would most likely attend church. I am unsure of when the building was built yet, but my guess is sometime in the 50′s.

5460 Western Ave
Chevy Chase, MD
Map Location of Building


Long Beach Meetinghouse


I am unsure of any info on this building yet. But I absolutely love the front. I was in San Antonio last week and will be in Washington DC this next week, so there won’t be any posts for probably another week.

6979 Orange Ave
Long Beach, CA
Map Location of Building


2012 Utah Preservation Conference


I am excited to be presenting at this years Preservation Conference entitled ‘From Mud to Mod’. My session will be this Friday, May 4th from 3:00pm-3:45pm and will be focused on Modernist buildings in Utah. For any in the Salt Lake area, it would be great to see you there. If you are able to make it, please come introduce yourself. Here is the listing of sessions and info to purchase a ticket.


San Diego 3rd and 8th Ward Exterior


It was difficult to get a shot of this building with all the trees at the sidewalk and with a tall security fence surrounding the building. This photo is of the chapel, taken from the sidewalk in front of the building. The Cultural Hall is unconnected and to the right of this photo. Access between the two is through an internal courtyard.

5299 Trojan Ave
San Diego, CA
Built 1962
Architect: Deems and Martin Associates
Map Location of Building


Cedar City 1st Ward Rededication

(Photo from Cedar City Pictures Website)

I was excited to find out today that the Cedar City 1st Ward building, or historic Rock Church, will be Rededicated this Sunday after closing last year for renovations. The dedication will be at 6pm and the building will be open for tours both before and after from 5pm-8pm. I have not been to visit the building yet, but from what I understand, the Cultural Hall has been restored to its original design, including removal of carpet for the original hardwood floors and removal of the wall panels that covered the windows. The radiators were left for historical reasons, even though the building now has central heating and cooling. The original pews have been restored and the font and mural still remain even though it is no longer functional. This building was built when the original Tabernacle on Center and Main was sold to the Government to be demolished for a new Post Office, but the still-working clock from the Tabernacle can be seen in the steeple.

75 E Center
Cedar City, UT
Built 1931
Architect: Anderson and Young
Map Location of Building


San Diego 3rd and 8th Ward Chapel Interior


I was blown away by just about every detail of this meetinghouse. Definitely one of my favorite mid-century buildings.

5299 Trojan Ave
San Diego, CA
Built 1962
Architect: Deems and Martin Associates
Map Location of Building


Matthews Ward Entry


Originally organized as the Florence Ward in 1923, the ward name was changed to Matthews in 1924 after a $15,000 donation towards a building by ward member George Leon Matthews. A convert from the RLDS Church, George was 86 years old in 1926. The ward members suggested and voted for the ward name to be changed in his honor. Because of the donation, construction began immediately. Dedicated the following year, the entire building would cost about $22,000. In 1926, George and his wife also donated an Estey organ to the building.

On Feb 2, 1941 ground breaking took place for a new chapel to be built to the west of the original chapel. The new building was dedicated on Feb 7, 1943 by Charles A Callis of the Twelve. By 1962, the Ward was made the official Indian Branch Headquarters for the area and by Feb 1963, the Matthews Ward would be discontinued and combined with another ward.

The building has since been sold and is now being used by the New Morning Star Baptist Church. The letters ‘LDS’ still remain in the entry lobby off of the busy street which functions as the main entry into the building. Beyond the doors is the Cultural Hall.

210 W Florence
Los Angeles, CA
Built 1941-43
Architect: Harold W. Burton
Now Greater New Morning Star Baptist Church
Map Location of Building


Beverly Hills Ward Exterior


Also known as the Westwood Ward Chapel. This building has a similar, but not as grand entry as the Las Vegas 9th Ward Chapel, also designed by Harold Burton.

10740 Ohio Ave
Los Angeles, CA
Built 1950
Architect: Harold W Burton
Map Location of Building


Beverly Hills Ward Chapel Interior


I believe this building is now called the Westwood Ward, but originally was the Beverly Hills Ward. Built several years prior to the Los Angeles Temple, this Chapel is located several blocks behind it. I love how the Sacrament table is not only centered in the room, but also brought forward as the closest element to the pews. The pulpit is pushed to the side as is the clerk table. This arrangement shows the importance of the sacrament over that of the spoken word.

10740 Ohio Ave
Los Angeles, CA
Built 1950
Architect: Harold W Burton
Map Location of Building


Paradise Ward in the news

The local Utah media is finally reporting on this building. Several of my photos from this site were on a KUTV News story covering the building this evening.

Here is the short news clip.

And here are some other news stories that were posted today as well:
HJ News – Once upon a chapel: 133-year-old LDS church in Paradise to be razed
Deseret News – One of Utah’s oldest Mormon chapels to be demolished
Salt Lake Tribune – One of Utah’s oldest Mormon chapels to be razed

9060 S 200 W
Paradise, UT
Original Chapel built 1877
Classrooms added 1902
New chapel addition 1952 by architect Lawrence D Olpin
Cultural Hall addition 1979
Scheduled to be torn down April 2012
Map Location of Building


Paradise Ward Farewell

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Yesterday I was fortunate to visit this building for the first time. It also happened to be the last day that worship services would be held. Even though it was Easter Sunday, members of the ward lingered long after services to reminisce, take pictures and just to sit and enjoy the Chapel for the last time while the bell in the tower rang outside for the small community of Paradise to hear.

As you can see, part of the building has already been removed exposing the original stone of the 1877 chapel. There was a nice display in the lobby with old photos of the chapel, some of the original stone as well as drawings of the new building to replace this one. Apparently they will save the bell to put into the new steeple. This bell was part of the original 1877 chapel. Also, some of the original stone will be used on the front elevation as a decorative feature.

Some of my favorite features of the building were the exposed stone, the railing in the lobby, the cry room in the balcony behind glass, the pulpit, the hand-painted flowers throughout the chapel, the abundance of natural light in the chapel, and the pews up in the cry room. I may be completely wrong, but if I were to guess, I would say those pews in the balcony are from the original building. The pews down in the chapel appeared to be from the 1952 addition. Rumor has it that some of the interior painting in the chapel was done by the same artist who painted scenes in the Salt Lake Temple Celestial room.

There was an attempt to save the building and have it be used as a community center that made it all the way to the First Presidency, but that request was denied. As a result the building that has stood here as a centerpiece for the town since 1877 will very soon be demolished.

9060 S 200 W
Paradise, UT
Original Chapel built 1877
Classrooms added 1902
New chapel addition 1952 by architect Lawrence D Olpin
Cultural Hall addition 1979
Scheduled to be torn down April 2012
Map Location of Building


San Bernardino 1st Ward Exterior

The city and valley of San Bernardino were founded by Mormon pioneers sent by Brigham Young. However, it would be many years before Church members would build their own Chapel. Ground was broken in 1930 when the congregation was still a Branch. LDS member William Harber was selected as both the architect and builder on the project. The building was completed and dedicated some time in 1933. I was unable to find an exact date. By 1935 the Branch had grown large enough to become a Ward. From this point until 1942, money was raised to add a Recreation Hall and additional classrooms in a separate building. Part of this newer building can be seen in the left side of the photo. Construction began in May of that year and was dedicated on October 9, 1943 by Marvin O. Ashton of the Presiding Bishopric. I have not as yet been able to find out when the building was sold, but it may have been in January 1975 when a new Stake Center in the city was dedicated. The building now functions as a Christian Baptist Church.

901 F Street
San Bernardino, CA
Built 1933; Sold 1975?
Architect: William Harber
Now Iglesia Cristiana Bautista
Map Location of Building


Hollywood Stake Tabernacle Chapel Detail

1209 S Manhattan Pl
Los Angeles, CA
Built 1928
Architect: Pope and Burton
Map Location of Building


Hollywood Stake Tabernacle Cultural Hall

1209 S Manhattan Pl
Los Angeles, CA
Built 1928
Architect: Pope and Burton
Map Location of Building


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