Discovering Great Mormon Buildings

Leslie Hodgson

Ogden Tour Handout #4

Ogden 21st Ward Meetinghouse
Built: 1943
Architect: Leslie Hodgson
Addition 1963 by Lawrence D Olpin
Vacant 2005
Almost razed in 2006, but sold
Now Iglesia Cristiana Rios de Agua Viva church and community center

Ward organized Nov 21, 1930. First met in a house that served as a seminary building. After two months, the ward cleaned up an entertainment and dance hall called the ‘Old Barn’, a 32×65 foot frame building built in 1894, and met here for 3 ½ years.

With a $50,000 budget, the architecture firm of Hodgson & McClenahan was hired in 1931 to draw plans for a site on Jefferson and 10th. (This firm also designed the Ogden High School and Ogden Municipal building, buildings that were also in the Art Deco style.) The site was 165’ frontage and 185’ depth. A Sunday School program was set up where everyone could buy a ‘gold brick’ for 5 cents that was made of gold construction paper with ‘5 cents’ written on it.

In June 1933 the basement of the Recreation hall began construction. Ward members could work if they had little cash to contribute. During the Great Depression, half of the ward was out of work. Bricks were used from the demolished ‘Virginia Building’ as the inside layer of brick for the walls. A great deal of time was spent hauling the bricks to the site and cleaning off the old mortar.

Although far from complete, in August of 1934 the first meeting was held in the Recreation hall. By July 1940, enough funds had been raised to construct the entire front unit consisting of the Chapel, kitchen and scout room. Concrete pours for the foundation of this front unit were done in three night shifts: the High Priests & Aaronic Priesthood had the first shift, the Elders the second shift, and the 70’s the third shift. The second shift finished about 4:00am and the third shift wrapped up about 7:30am.

After twelve years of work a second bishop was called who vigorously pushed the building project to a conclusion. By 1945, after fourteen long years to build and thousands of hours of toil at night, and with a membership twice the size of the when they started, the building was ready for dedication.

Dedication April 15, 1945 by President David O. Mckay in two sessions who said, “These saints have built well, they have denied themselves of any conveniences, and have denied themselves of many of the necessities of life to build this house of worship in which to come to worship thee.”

“May this building become more sacred and hallowed to them [our children] as the years go by, not only because it is a House of the Lord but, also, because it has been touched by the hands of their fathers.” – Bishop Baird

By 1963 there were two growing wards using the building and more room was needed so plans were made to add to the building. In Jun 1964 ground was broken. The Recreation hall was made into a Junior Sunday school room with adjacent classrooms. New restrooms, shower rooms and a library were added as was a new heating plant with air conditioning. The new wing included a larger Cultural hall, a new kitchen, Relief Society room and additional classrooms. The Bishop had the front benches in the Chapel lowered so short people could have their feet reach the floor and be more comfortable during long sacrament meetings. An adjacent site was purchased for more parking and a new entrance to the building was created.

Ward members assisted in construction and were called on work missions. By Feb 1967 the building was completely finished and all paid for. The dedication was held in April with Elder Sterling W. Sill. In May a celebration dinner was held in honor of finishing the building and being out of debt. Additional remodeling of various rooms took place through the 1970’s and 1980’s, including having the building brought up to earthquake standards. The last of these occurred in 1995 when the Chapel benches were padded and upholstered.

In 2003, the Church dispersed the members that had been attending services at that meetinghouse to other meetinghouses in the area and used the building as a college ward. The college ward stopped using the building about 2005 and the building was then used as storage for a couple of years. Although the members who were dispersed in 2003 were told that they would likely be able to attend services in the building again, in late 2006 the church announced it would be razing the building as it was deemed an “unnecessary expense.” Church members and preservationists protested and ultimately the church decided to spare the building and sell it. Now the building is used as a church and community center called Iglesia Cristiana Rios de Agua Viva.

“This building is a fitting and lasting monument to the integrity, perseverance, and faithfulness of saints who, through their sacrifice, have made it possible. May this building serve us and future generations as a House of the Lord wherein peace, love and true brotherhood may abide and from which the saints may take into their lives these sacred and divine attributes to the end.” – Bishop I.L. Richards, first bishop of the ward


Ogden Tour Handout #3

Ogden 13th Ward Meetinghouse
1000 23rd Street
Ogden, UT
Built: 1922
Architect: Leslie Hodgson
Vacant 1974
Sold 1975 to Primera Mission Bautista church
Vacant 1980
Currently owned by the Christian Assembly church

Ward organized Dec 31, 1916. After the organization of the ward the Saints of the Ogden 13th Ward met for worship with the Saints of the Ogden 6th Ward until June, 1917, and in the meantime, the Saints, by advice of the First Presidency of the Church, proceeded to build a temporary meetinghouse, which was done at considerable expense and labor. At that time, that labor commanded high war prices. The erection of the house was commenced June 26, 1917 and construction proceeded quickly so that the first meeting was held a month later, on July 22nd. This temporary wood-frame building was dedicated by President Anthon H. Lund on Dec 30, 1917. Standing just east of the present modern meetinghouse, the building was sold and removed in 1921.

As the 13th Ward grew it was deemed necessary for the ward to erect a new and better meetinghouse than the one erected in 1917. A committee was appointed for the purpose of constructing a modern building in Sep 1919 when the plans were completed, and the work of construction went on rapidly. The cornerstone of the building was laid on April 19, 1920 by Apostle George F Richards. The building was completed at a cost of $58,000 and was dedicated Dec 31, 1922 by President Heber J. Grant.

President Heber J Grant offered the dedicatory prayer at the dedication services of the Thirteenth ward chapel Sunday afternoon. Apostle George Albert Smith was one of the principal speakers. Bishop J Howard Jenkins conducted the service, which was attended by more than 400 adult members of the ward and a number of special invited visitors. The service was for members of the ward only.

The new chapel occupies an elevated site at Twenty third street and Jackson avenue. It is the most beautiful building owned by the Latter Day Saints in Ogden and conceded by the church authorities to be one of the most beautiful in any of the wards of the church. The exterior is of dull red brick with white stone facings. The interior includes a chapel with a seating capacity for 500 people. The furniture and woodwork is oak. The windows are of stained glass. The pulpit stand is on the north end of the chapel with the choir seats immediately below. A feature of the chapel is the balconies on the east and west sides, the floor being raised two feet above the center of the chapel to allow the placing of two heavy steel girders. The chapel was beautifully decorated with potted ferns, cut flowers, and Christmas wreaths.

In the basement is a large amusement hall with a stage, the baptismal font, one of the most modern in the city, is in the south end of the basement. A motion picture machine room is immediately above the font room. A large stage, kitchen and a class room is also included in the basement. On the main floor, besides the main auditorium, is a Bishop’s room and two classrooms. On the third floor there are three classrooms and a prayer circle room. Also in the building there is a fire-proof vault, a library and a drinking fountain.

President Grant said he congratulated the members of the ward most heartily for the accomplishment of their splendid structure. He always rejoiced when people built beautiful church buildings, he said. Some people, he said, liked to live in beautiful homes, but were slow to contribute to the erection of places of worship. He had observed that poor people donate more for the erection of churches than those of greater wealth.

Apostle Smith said “There are not many wards in the church that have as beautiful, comfortable and serviceable building as the one we are now in.” (Ogden Standard 01 Jan 1923)

In Nov 1932, a turkey dinner was held in the Recreation hall to raise money to buy coal for the winter. Tickets were 35 cents, 300 people were served, and $50.65 was raised. In Mar 1938 a dancing party was held to assist in the ward maintenance and to pay for brass kick-plates placed on the outside oak doors. Remodeling of the baptismal font was also done.

High velocity winds struck in Oct 1953 damaging the roof of the chapel and blowing out two windows on the east side of the chapel at a cost of $59.60.

In 1958 the ward was divided, but by 1970 the two wards were planning details to merge auxiliaries such as the youth MIA programs.

On May 23, 1971 it was announced by the bishopric that the 13th, 20th, and 31st wards will be combined and build a new three-ward chapel. A presentation was made in Priesthood meeting showing the site and layout of the plan of the proposed building. In June a potluck dinner was held to raise funds for the new building.

The ward continued to meet in the building until 1973, and by 1974 the building was vacant. The building was sold in 1975 to the Primera Mission Bautista church. However, the building was again vacant in 1980. Currently the building is in use by the Christian Assembly church.


Ogden Tour Handout #2

*A huge thanks to dstringham for a large portion of this research and for the photo of the chapel interior.

Ogden Deaf Branch Meetinghouse
740 E 21st Street
Ogden, UT
Built: 1916
Architect: Leslie Hodgson
Cultural Hall addition: 1949
Architect: Lawrence D Olpin

The Ogden Deaf Branch (formerly the “L.D.S. Branch for the Deaf,” which it was called until the 1940s and is still on the identification plaque on the front wall of the building, lower left) met in this building until January 1999. Petition was made to the First Presidency in 1911/1912 to construct the building at a cost of $15,000; well-known Prairie School architect Leslie Hodgson was contracted to design the building.

Construction on the building began in 1915 following the First Presidency’s approval in January and was completed in December 1916/January 1917. The building was dedicated 14 January 1917 by President Joseph F. Smith and attended by Anthon H. Lund and several Church apostles. On 4 February 1917, the L.D.S. Branch for the Deaf was organized under the direction of President Thomas B. Evans of the Ogden Stake with Max W. Woodbury, a teacher at the Utah School for the Deaf and the superintended of the Deaf Sunday School, as its first branch president. President Woodbury served for fifty-one years, the longest serving branch president in the history of the Church.

The rostrum and elevation of the chapel are uniquely designed to leverage the visual needs of Deaf congregants. The floor is sloped to allow successive rows to see the speaker and the pulpit is situated in the middle of the rostrum with seating to the sides (but not behind) of the pulpit to enable leaders to view the signing of speakers. The basement classrooms were all designed to have light switches both inside (to control interior lighting) and outside (to signal students) of the rooms.

The building is located a block and half southwest of the (old) campus of the Utah School for the Deaf. When the School relocated to Ogden in 1896, Deaf students and local Deaf parishioners attended Sunday School services in the Ogden Fourth Ward gymnasium—rain, shine, and cold—until 1917. Plans for an addition to extend the Deaf Branch building to the north were accepted in February 1948 at a cost of $26,500, ground broken in October 1949, completed sometime in Autumn 1950, and dedicated by Presiding Bishop LeGrand Richards on 9 Dec 1951.

To maintain religious education for its deaf members, an addition is being constructed on the chapel for the deaf branch in Ogden. Brick work is now near completion on the $30,000 project which will include an amusement hall, stage, kitchen, banquet hall, Relief Society room, officer’s room, and rest rooms. Improvements will also be made in the original structure. Actual work began in October. (07 Dec 1949 Deseret News)

The Church has provided religious facilities for its deaf members in Ogden since 1896 when they began Sunday School services. These meetings were held in the Old Fourth Ward chapel. They continued to conduct meeting there until 1916 when the building they now use was erected.


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