Discovering Great Mormon Buildings

Building Exteriors

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


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

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

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

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

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

Salt Lake Assembly Hall Exterior

Construction began on this Victorian Gothic Tabernacle on August 11, 1877. The architect was Obed Taylor, one of six architects in the city in 1879. By April 7, 1880 the building was opened to the public and a description was given of the work still needing to be done. It was stated that the building was nearing completion. Sometime later that year the building was completed because on August 7, 1880 a Priesthood meeting was held there. Almost a year after this, the architect unexpectedly died on August 2, 1881. The funeral services in the Deseret News stated of him, “The Salt Lake Assembly Hall is a sample of his skill in that line, and although Obed has been summoned from our midst, that structure alone will always keep his name in the fond remembrance of this people.” (Deseret News 2 Aug 1881) The building would officially be dedicated by President Joseph F Smith on January 8, 1882 at a 2pm session of Stake Conference. (ibid. 18 Jan 1882)

With seating capacity for nearly 2000 people, the building was constructed with left-over granite from the Salt Lake Temple. A feature included a four-foot weather vane of a flying angel at the top of the tower. Additionally, the truncated spires used to function as chimneys. In 1882 the Provo Tabernacle by William Folsom would be patterned after this design at the request of local Church leaders. Folsom and Taylor had previously worked together on the ZCMI cast-iron facade, which incidentally is making another debut tomorrow as part of the new City Creek Center opening. As a result, the plans of these two Tabernacles were similar with the original interiors nearly identical. (Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture & City Planning, page 72-73.)

50 W North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT
Built 1877-80
Architect: Obed Taylor
Map Location of Building

Granite Ward Exterior

The exterior was completed in 1905 allowing use of the building, but the interior was still being worked on in 1913. The building was not paid off until 1938, after which it was dedicated on July 16, 1939. Ward members would joke that the building was as enduring as the Salt Lake Temple since both took 40 years to complete. Originally a red brick building, this Victorian Romanesque Revival building was painted white around 1950. The floor plan is a simple rectangle design with a 1938 rear office addition. In 1965, a new and larger building was completed north of here. The original cornerstone was moved to the new meetinghouse and the Granite Chapel ceased being used as a religious structure. In 1966, sculptor Avard Fairbanks purchased the building for $2000 and used the building as his art studio until his death in 1987. His son now owns the building and uses it to store the works of his father.

9800 S 3100 E
Sandy, UT
Built 1903-05
National Register of Historic Places
Map Location of Building

Salt Lake 10th Ward Exterior

Of the original 19 wards in Salt Lake, the building to the right is the only original chapel remaining in the city, built in 1873. The Gothic revival church to the left was built in 1909. Also on the complex, at the far right is a school built in 1887. All three of these buildings are now connected into a single meetinghouse with the 1909 building serving as the Chapel and the original 1873 building serving as a large classroom or activity hall. This 1873 building used to be the Chapel but was remodeled many years ago into a Cultural Hall that even had a stage at one point. During a remodel in 2000, the building was almost torn down completely. The rumor is that Pres. Hinckley stepped in to save the building. Now, only the front wall and portions of the sides remain from the original building, but the remainder of the exterior was rebuilt as a replica of the original.

ADDED 10 Feb 2012: The steeple on this has always looked a little strange to me; too squatty and out of place. In looking at older photos, there was a taller steeple at the same location of the building in 1911 here, but by 1937 there was no steeple at all here. It appears that there was no steeple all the way until the 2000 remodel, when it was added back. With the steeple appearing to be part of the original design, I definitely appreciate the effort to restore the building, but I think I prefer the look of the building without one.

420 S 800 E
Salt Lake City, UT
Original built 1873
Gothic revival chapel built 1909
Map Location of Building

Randolph Ward Exterior

15 S. Main
Randolph, UT
Built 1898-1914
Architect: John C. Gray
National Register of Historic Places
Map Location of Building

Maywood Ward Chapel Exterior

4407 Randolph St
Maywood, CA
Built 1947-49
Map Location of Building

Maywood Ward Exterior

Dedicated on Easter Sunday of 1949 by Spencer W. Kimball after 24 months of construction.

4407 Randolph St
Maywood, CA
Built 1949
Map Location of Building

Bountiful Tabernacle Exterior

This building is unique in that every President of the Church has spoken from its pulpit except for Joseph Smith. Ground was broken by Lorenzo Snow on Feb 11, 1857, with the first stone being laid the next day. Construction was halted and grain stored in its 6′ deep x 9′ high stone foundation during the Utah War in 1858. Built almost entirely of local material and local labor, the building cost was about $60,000. The tower is capped with a unique 5-spired steeple that was part of the original Greek Revival design. Built of adobe walls and roof timbers fastened with wooden pegs, the building was dedicated on March 14, 1863 by Heber C. Kimball at a meeting presided at by Brigham Young.

The spires were blown off the tower during a wind storm in 1906. Although repairs were attempted several times, the spires would remain off the building until they were finally replaced in 1955. A north wing with amusement hall and classrooms was added in 1925. Installation of a new pipe organ and a complete remodel happened in 1942. And a rear wing was added containing a Relief Society room, kitchen and offices in 1957.

March 14, 1963 featured a Centennial celebration, where Hugh B. Brown rededicated the building for another hundred years. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, the Tabernacle today remains the oldest chapel in continuous use in the state of Utah, if not the entire Church.

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
Utah History Encyclopedia
Davis Clipper

55 S. Main
Bountiful, UT
Built 1857-63
Architect: Augustus Farnham
National Register of Historic Places
Map Location of Building

Idaho Falls 4th Ward Exterior

The lot for the building was purchased and paid off by Mar 1932. In Jan 1934, the basement excavation began. Times were hard and much of the labor for the building was done by members of the ward who were asked to raise 40% of the cost of the building. After a great deal of work and donations, a final push was needed to complete the fundraising for the building so it could be dedicated. A Victory Dinner and Dance in the new building was held on Nov 18, 1937 for that purpose. The needed funds were raised and the building was dedicated on Dec 5, 1937 by Pres. Heber J. Grant.

After purchasing the adjoining lot to the east of the Chapel in 1957, a 7000 square foot addition by architect Harold Collard was built in 1958 and dedicated in 1959. The addition included two new bishops offices, a Relief Society room, kitchen, fireside room and classrooms downstairs.

A 1984 remodel included new woodwork, carpet, sound system, choir seats and pews. By 1993 the building was sold to the Salvation Army after 55 years of use when the ward moved into a new standardized meetinghouse built directly adjacent to the Temple, not far from this building. A special farewell meeting and pamphlet was prepared for the occasion, including reminisces by members who had lived in the ward since the construction of the building and helped build it with their own hands.

In 1943 Robert L. Shepherd, who at the time was painting murals for the new Idaho Falls Temple, was commissioned to paint a mural for the front of the chapel. Called the ‘Ten Virgins,’ the painting was in the Chapel until the building was sold in 1993, when it was placed in the Family History Library on Elva Street.

605 North Blvd
Idaho Falls, ID
Built 1934-37; East Wing Addition in 1958-59; Sold 1993
Now Salvation Army
Map Location of Building

Idaho Falls 5th Ward Exterior

395 2nd St
Idaho Falls, ID
Built 1937
Architect: Sundberg and Sundberg
Map Location of Building

Centerville 1st Ward Exterior

160 S 300 E
Centerville, UT
Built 1879
Side wings added 1927
Front portico and steps added 1934
Cultural Hall and Steeple added 1951
Map Location of Building

Blackfoot 1st Ward Exterior

If anyone has info on this building, I would welcome it. Right now I only have the dates of construction from the marker on the front of the building.

187 N Ash
Blackfoot, ID
Built 1928-33
Map Location of Building

Washakie Ward Exterior

Repeated conflicts between the Native Shoshoni Indians settled near the Bear River and the local militia led to a treaty in 1863 that forever changed the lifestyle of the Shoshoni. As a result, the LDS Church decided to set up a community named Washakie near the Utah/Idaho border in 1880 in order to teach “white” farming techniques and to help integrate the Shoshoni into both American and Mormon society. Using missionaries to direct this effort, by 1886, 250 inhabitants lived here year-round, owning their property in common and maintaining their farms and homesteads.

Construction on the small Washakie Ward Chapel began in 1937 and sits in the middle of a large fenced lot. Dedicated on January 22, 1939, the building served this local Shoshoni farming settlement that consisted of about 125 LDS members by this time. Upon completion of the building, the first all-Native American Indian bishopric in the Church was installed to lead the ward with Moroni Timbimboo as Bishop. Out-migration from the community began with WWII and continued until 1960 when the Ward was downgraded to a Branch. In 1966 the congregation was completely discontinued and the building and property were sold. Not just the LDS chapel, but the entire community project was abandoned at this time, with all the remaining families evicted and all 184 acres of property either returned to the tribe or sold. The small brick chapel is the most significant of only a few remaining structures from this community that remains. In 1998 the building, still vacant and in disrepair, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

*Source of information obtained from National Register Nomination Form

Box Elder County
Washakie, UT
Architect: Edward O Anderson (probable)
Built 1937-39; Sold 1966; Currently vacant
National Register of Historic Places
Map Location of Building

Parowan 3rd Ward Exterior

90 S Main
Parowan, UT
Architect: Miles Miller
Built 1914
Map Location of Building

Grays Lake Ward Exterior

The small classroom wing was built in 1963 for this remotely located meetinghouse. By 1981, the building was completely remodeled including the addition of a large chapel based on the Aspen Standard plan. The chapel is unique in the 45 degree orientation of the chapel to the classroom wing, the eave detailing, the blue standing-seam metal roof (including the use of the roofing material as siding), and in the steeple design.

94 Grays Lake Road
Wayan, ID
Built 1981
Architect: Paul Walker Jensen
Map Location of Building

Original Las Vegas Ward

(Taken August 20, 1932 in Boulder City, shortly after being moved from Las Vegas. Image courtesy Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region. Wash. No. 01362, B.D. Glaha, photographer.)

This small wood-frame building has quite a unique history. Built from 1924 to 1925 as the first LDS chapel in Las Vegas, the building featured “a small stage and a small room on each side of the stage and a main hall which would seat about 175 people. To create classrooms for Sunday School, we stretched a wire from the front door to the stage and another wire from one side of the chapel to the other. With curtains on these wires we made four class rooms. Another class met on the stage and one class in each tiny room on each side of the stage. The communication was pretty good in the four classrooms in the main hall. A tall man could look over the curtains and without any strain at all you could hear four different Sunday School lessons each Sunday morning.” (From The History of the Las Vegas First Ward, Compiled by Marion B. Earl)

Having outgrown this small building in just seven years, the Ward was busy constructing a much larger Chapel in 1932. By June, they were already holding services in the completed portion of the building. At this time, assigned members from the Boulder City Branch were sent to Las Vegas to see about securing the original building since they were meeting in a rented mortuary. The action was agreeable and the Branch purchased the building for $1,750.

In order to move the building, large jacks were used to lift the Church and put it on timbers. This was all done by hand. Because of the size of the building, the solution was to saw the building in half, transport the building to Boulder City in two pieces, and then reassemble the building at the new location. The sawing of the roof, walls and floor was all done by hand with large saws, crowbars and hammers. When the first half was on the truck and ready to move, men had to sit on top of the building with thick gloves to keep the hanging overhead wires from hitting the building. The trip of 25 miles was slow going, but the first half arrived in Boulder City on June 29, 1932 in the morning. The second half arrived on July 1st. Many of the members made the drive to witness the historic event.

Piecing the chapel back together involved a great deal of work and money, as did adding several rooms to the back of the building. All of this work was completed by the end of the month with the first Sacrament meeting being held on July 31, 1932. An opening social was also held, with an attendance of 200, including the Boulder Dam ‘Six Company’ officials, the Mayor, School Principal, and other government officials. By 1934, the Branch had paid off the debt to the Chapel and the building was ready to dedicate. The Stake President was uncomfortable asking Church President Heber J. Grant to attend the dedication, so Branch President Lawrence Wortley wrote a letter directly to Pres. Grant, who accepted. On the day of dedication, March 25, 1934, the building was packed with people standing in aisles and even hanging out the windows. President Grant sat on the stand in an overstuffed chair brought in from someones home. When a man walked in late, Pres. Grant asked the Branch President who it was. The answer was the Episcopal Bishop from across the street. Pres. Grant made a seat available for him on the stand and invited him to sit with him through the meeting.

Several years later, on Feb. 20, 1937, the Chapel suffered a fire, and the same Episcopal Bishop provided his building to the Branch members to use during repairs. With work on the Hoover Dam completed by this time, many of the workers had recently been laid off and were able to help rebuild the Chapel.

A unique feature in the building was a rope-actuated canvas roll-up curtain at the stage. This stage and hall doubled as the worship space and activity hall. On the curtain were many painted advertisements from the stores and businesses who had donated money for the curtain. Included were ads from Central Fruit Market, Vaughan Department store, The Emporium and the Green Hut Cafe.

By the Fall of 1958, a new and larger meetinghouse was built and completed for Boulder City. As a result, on February 15, 1960 the building was again sold; this time to a Protestant denomination who moved it back to Las Vegas at a site on 25th Avenue, now called Eastern Avenue. (According to Richard Jackson, the building was sold to St. Philip’s Catholic Church, who moved the building from Boulder City to Las Vegas.) Later the building would be used as a homeless shelter, and today is being used as an Episcopal Church. The photo above was taken in 2011 and, as you can see, the chapel is now hardly recognizable as the original building, with all the moving and changes over the years.

Las Vegas Ward
Northwest corner of Sixth and Carson Streets
Las Vegas, NV
Built 1925
Map Location of Building

Boulder City Branch
Utah and Arizona Streets
Boulder City, NV
Moved 1932
Map Location of Building

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
832 N Eastern Ave
Las Vegas, NV
Moved 1960
Map Location of Building

Other Resources:
-‘First Boulder City LDS Chapel’ by Leonard Smith Stubbs
-‘History of Boulder City Nevada Branch, 1999’ by Iris Montague Spafford
-‘Reflections, History of the North Las Vegas Stake’ by Wendell Glen and Bonita Welch Waite
-‘Places of Worship’ by Richard W. Jackson