Friday, May 29, 2009

salt lake 18th ward chapel

(Photo by post author 29 May 2009)

Salt Lake 18th Ward Chapel, now White Memorial Chapel
Original address: 107 North 'A' Street, now 128 East 300 North

12 Jun 1880 - Ground broken for building
2 Aug 1881 - Death of architect Obed Taylor
27 Jul 1882 - First religious services
5 Jan 1902 - First services after remodel addition
1973 - Building dismantled
1979 - Building reconstructed on Capitol Hill

The Eighteenth Ward used Brigham Young's schoolhouse to meet in until the chapel was built (Richard W Jackson, Places of Worship, page 97) Once built, this chapel was initially inside of the walled property of Brigham Young's estate as shown in this image. Some remnants of the wall can still be seen in a parking lot on 1st Avenue, east of State Street, adjacent to and part of the Brigham Young Historic Park. This drawing shows a perspective of both the Church and wall.

The Eighteenth Ward in Salt Lake City represents one of the large meetinghouses of this period.
This is a large Gothic Revival-style meetinghouse that was designed by architect Obed Taylor. Construction was started in 1880 and completed in 1882. Due to crowded and inadequate conditions, even with additions to the chapel made in 1901, the building was scheduled for demolition in the early 1970s. It was carefully disassembled and moved, without the 1901 addition, stone by stone, and reconstructed on a new site opposite the state capitol building in Salt Lake City, Utah, where it functions as a nondenominational chapel for public use. I have selected this building not only because it is a fine example but because it is still standing, albeit on a different site. Many like it were built along the Mormon Corridor and on into Idaho. Of the few that are still standing, some have had their high towers removed and frequently have been so remodeled and covered with additions as to be hardly recognizable. (Richard W Jackson, Places of Worship, page 106-107)

The Salt Lake Eighteenth Ward Meetinghouse (1881) is an early Gothic Revival, central-tower design. The structure, which originally stood at Second Avenue and A Street, was relocated in 1973 to a site just south of the state capitol. Obed Taylor, the architect, used attenuated proportions, wall buttresses, pointed arches, and engaged tower to create a Gothic design. The use of crenelations on the front gable, but not on the rear, suggests a certain naiveté for the time in which it was built. (C. Mark Hamilton, Nineteenth-century Mormon architecture and city planning, page 87) Note that the crenelation appears to have been removed during the 1902 renovation/addition.

The Meetinghouse, 1870-1890
Gothic elements began to appear in meetinghouse designs during this period. The traditional meetinghouse began to assume a more specialized role, taking on the appearance of conventional or contemporary Protestant chapels in Gothic style. The axial plan was extended, the pitch of the roof increased, pointed arch, tracery windows, wall buttresses, and towers were added. These new meetinghouses were more stylistically sophisticated than their earlier vernacular equivalents.

The appearance of the new stylistic elements is attributable to a number of things. The infusion of well-trained builder-architects did much to change the picture of Mormon architecture. Obed Taylor, for example, was instrumental in introducing Gothic Revival / Victorian Gothic forms to Utah; his design for the Assembly Hall on Temple Square was a pivotal monument. (C. Mark Hamilton, Nineteenth-century Mormon architecture and city planning, page 85)

(Elevation by Richard W Jackson, Places of Worship, page 106)

Death of Obed Taylor, Esq., Architect
We regret to announce to our readers the death of Brother Obed Taylor, the talented architect of this city. He died at his residence in this city at one o'clock p.m., to-day. He was undoubtedly one of the most able men in his line of business that ever drew plans for a building in this city. He was a native of Canada, but joined the Church in San Francisco, where he was baptized by the late Apostle Parley P. Pratt in early days. He was a quiet, unassuming man, kind and generous in soul, and active in the accomplishment of good. Few were acquainted with him, owing to his natural reticence, but by those who were, he was as much beloved for the nobility of his character, as he was admired for his eminent ability. Among the monuments of his architectural genius, is the beautiful design of the Salt Lake Assembly Hall. Of his private deeds of benevolence and charity, the world will never know the half. His death is a great loss to the community which, in common with his host of friends, we unite in deeply deploring. The funeral will be held at the late residence of the deceased, 18th Ward, to-morrow (Sunday) at 4 p.m. Friends of the family are invited to attend. (Deseret News 2 Aug 1881)

The Late Mr. Obed Taylor - Funeral Services
As an architect he long since demonstrated his superior ability, end in this respect, in his death, the community at large suffer a severe loss. 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. He has designed and completed many beautiful buildings in this city, and some are now in course of erection, the drawings of which have only recently left his office. Amongst these may be mentioned the New Deseret University and the New Opera House, both of which buildings, now in course of erection, will still further testify to the ability of the deceased, and as public buildings will be ornaments to the city, which, as he said in the outstart, he had come to help build up. (Deseret News 2 Aug 1881)

The Eighteenth Ward Chapel
A Handsome and Creditable Structure Nearly Completed
With the exception of a few trifling details, the interior of the Eighteenth Ward Latter-day Saints’ Chapel is finished, and the first religious services will be held in it to-morrow evening, beginning at half-past six. President Joseph F. Smith will preach the discourse on the occasion.

The body of the building is brick, and the foundation granite, and is semi-gothic in style, after a design by the late Obed Taylor. It has sixteen abutments and the height of the tower, from the ground to the summit of the spire is 76 feet. The site is “beautiful for situation,” rendering it an attractive point for the eye to rest upon from any part of the city.

The body of the interior is 50 x 80 feet, and 18 feet 6 inches high to the square, with the ceiling rising till it reaches the middle, where it is 23 feet 6 inches from the floor. The ceiling is thrown into squares by beams, which are neatly grained in imitation oak, while the interiors of the squares are elegantly paneled in delicate, subdued water-color tints, the walls being plain, and of a tint which has an appropriate blending with those of the ceiling.

In the east end of the building the gallery is situated, in the rear part of which is a recess formed by the interior of the tower, at the opening of which is an elliptic arch, nicely grained in imitation of sienna marble, as are also the two pillars supporting the gallery.

The stand is large, occupying the whole width of the hall, and is ornamented with a handsome breastwork, with banister extensions on each side. The top is tastefully upholstered with deep crimson plush, and the floor of the platform appropriately carpeted; Besides seats of the usual style, half a dozen large chairs occupy the space. The north end of the stand is arranged for occupation by the organ and choir, of which Brother H.G. Whitney is the capable conductor.

The chapel is lighted by twelve large windows. The whole of the woodwork, including the wainscoting, which protects the lower part of the walls, is grained in imitation of oak, of a deep rich tint. The seats, which are set off with ornamental arms at the ends, are in plain paint for the present, but it is the intention to have them grained at some future time, and the aisle running up the center of the hall, is covered with matting.

Besides the main body of the interior there is a vestibule, 8 x 7 ft. being the interior square of the tower.

There are a number of conveniences about the building that would take too much space to name. The surroundings are not completed, such as fencing and other details.

The brickwork was done by W. Tuddenham, the foundation by John Worthen, the woodwork by Acting Bishop R. Patrick; the plastering, by James Coult; the painting, by W.C. Morris, and the calcimining, by R. Simpson. All of the work has been well and faithfully done, and the construction as a whole has been under the direct superintendency of Brother Patrick from its beginning, to whose untiring exertions its existence is more due than to anybody else’s.

The Saints of the Ward have contributed liberally, toward the erection of the building, and now they have a house not surpassed in beauty or solidity by any in Utah of similar size. Besides the general contributions, the Sisters of the Relief Society were at the expense of the upholstery adornment of the stand.

When completed, the entire structure will cost in the neighborhood of $6,500.
Ground was broken for the building on the 12th of June, 1880. The building committee appointed were: Robert Patrick, W.B. Barton, Thos. Latimer (deceased), Feramorz Young (deceased), E.R. Snow Smith, Thomas W. Jennings, N. Twiss Young. (Deseret News 26 Jul 1882)

Handsome New Chapel (1902 renovation)
Eighteenth Ward Hold New Year’s Meetings in Enlarged Building
The improvements to the Eighteenth ward chapel, which have been going forward for the past seven months, have now been completed, and meetings will be resumed in the chapel tomorrow; the first session will be the regular fast meeting at 2 o’clock, and in the evening the conjoint session of the two Improvement associations will occur.

The enlarged chapel, which is now one of the largest ward meeting houses in the city, has been improved at a cost between $8,000 and $9,000, and its seating capacity has been increased to 650. The building is now in the form of a cross, an ante-room, and the lavatories being built on the north side. It contains 70 electric lights, and is heated by steam. The entire work of remodeling the building and raising the funds was placed in the hands of a special committee of twelve with the ward bishopric at its head. The active work of construction and the supervision has been in the hands of the chairman of the building committee, Robert Patrick, Sr., his assistants being John T. Caine and John Nicholson. The architect employed was David C. Dart.

The building was lighted up on Friday evening and all who beheld it were profuse in their expressions of praise over its handsome appearance. (Deseret News 4 Jan 1902)

Demolition and Removal Schedule:
The site shall be completely cleared of all buildings, walls, fences, trees, pavements etc. all as noted on the drawings and as specified. However the owner intends to continue use of the Existing chapel, Whitney hall and existing house #6, therefore the construction of this project shall be in two phases as follows: construct the new ward and stake building and at the completion of this part of the project the existing Chapel, Whitney hall and house #6 and adjoining other items shall be demolished and the parking area etc. shall be constructed. (Site Plan Sheet A-1 ‘As-Built’ Drawing dated 17 Sep 1973 William F Thomas, Architect)

(Existing site drawing by post author. Information obtained from Site Plan Sheet A-1 'As-Built' Drawing dated 17 Sep 1973 William F Thomas, Architect, PFD As-Built Catalog)

The Site plan above shows locations of six existing homes, two existing garages, the 18th Ward Chapel and Whitney Hall. Also shown are walls, fences, sidewalks, and trees. The original rectangular chapel size is indicated with hatching. Later expansion and connection to the Whitney Hall account for the larger size. Below is a current image of the site. All of these structures were demolished to make room for new meetinghouse. Fortunately the original Chapel was preserved and moved to a new location.

(Aerial image of site from Google Maps 2009)

Eighteenth and North Eighteenth Ward Building (1972)
Built in 1972, this stake-sized building is also similar to a Freeman (FR 68-010) standard plan in room arrangement except it is larger. It is also provided with a lower level at the rear of the building due to the slope of the land. Parking is on the south side of the building and also across the street. William F. Thomas was the architect. Its location is on the north half of the block where the pioneer-built Eighteenth Ward building and the adjacent Whitney Hall were built. This old meetinghouse is the one that was demolished carefully and rebuilt as nearly as possible in its original form across from the Utah state capitol building. (Richard W Jackson, Places of Worship, page 350-351)

Work to begin soon on chapel restoration (1979)
Photo – Old 18th Ward building served early leaders.
Caption – Beautiful and stately 18th Ward chapel will rise again at location across the street from Utah State Capitol.

Reconstruction of one of Salt Lake City’s earliest ward buildings – the historic 18th Ward chapel – will begin in a few weeks, according to Steven T. Baird, architect. “We’re wrestling with a few problems such as bids being higher than we expected,” he said. “Then we’ll get started.”

The building, which would be 98 years old this year, once served the families of early Church leaders including President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, his counselor, and Presiding Bishop Newel K. Whitney. All three men had died, however, before the chapel was constructed – President Young, only four years earlier.

Brother Baird said the chapel’s new location will be on state-owned property at East Capitol Street and Third North. The original site was at Second Avenue and A Street. The structure was dismantled six years ago to make room for the new Salt Lake Ensign Stake Center and combined 18th and North 18th Ward chapel. A singles ward also meets in the building.

The architect said the reconstructed chapel will appear smaller than some people think it should be since they will remember it with attached cultural hall and classrooms. Its original size was only 34 by 64 feet and included a balcony. The rostrum was in the opposite end.

Ovid Taylor, pioneer architect, designed the original chapel, but it is not known who supervised its construction. The same architect also designed the old Coalville Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

Brother Baird directed dismantling operations in 1963. [actually 1973] He and his crew code-numbered each handmade brick and every other part for easy reconstruction later. He does not anticipate any problems restoring the structure to its original state and expects it will take about seven months to do the job.

“The building will have one feature not found in the original – a lower level. The new space will be divided between a multi-purpose room where meetings can be held – and a library on important Utah pioneers. Restrooms will also be located on this floor, the architect said.

(You can see the entry to the new lower level beneath the back door as described above. Photo by post author 29 May 2009)

The tower and pews from the old building were saved along with other items and they will be put into their proper places as the reconstructed building goes up. Not available is the original organ. However, another one from the same time period has been acquired.

The 1975 Utah Legislature authorized placement of the chapel at the new site. When the project is completed, the building will be donated to the state for non-sectarian uses.

Brother Baird, who specializes in restoration work, said cost of the project will be about $300,000 of which $240,000 has already been donated by M. Kenneth White and his wife, Ada Marie. They are members of the Grandview 1st Ward, Salt Lake Wilford Stake.

“The Whites have no connection with the old 18th Ward, they just felt this was a good project,” the architect said. The Community Memorial Chapel Foundation is raising the remainder.

The architect said his firm has handled a number of other restoration projects including the Promised Valley Playhouse, the Capitol Theater and the ZCMI façade, all in Salt Lake City. The firm has also restored homes in Nauvoo, Ill.

He said he has a special feeling for the pioneer buildings still in existence around Utah. “I know it’s impossible to save everything, but we must save some of them to preserve our heritage.” (Deseret News 12 May 1979)

Utah State Historical Society Images
Image of Chapel - picture taken after the addition. Note that there are no crenelations at the front roof gable. These must have been removed during the 1902 renovation. They were later added after reconstruction on Capitol Hill.
Image of Chapel adjacent to Whitney Hall
Interior of chapel showing balcony and stairwell
Image of stairwell leading to the balcony

Street view of current site

View Larger Map


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