25 Interesting Facts About the Beehive House

by | Sep. 28, 2019

Mormon Life

11. An original beehive cupola (which once was bright yellow) sits atop the Beehive House, and beehive themes can be found in the woodwork designs throughout the house

The beehive represents the strong work ethic of Latter-day Saint pioneers as they labored and sacrificed in establishing the State of Deseret. 

The Beehive House Cupola

12. The Lion House was built right next to the Beehive House. 

The buildings were constructed two years apart from each other and were joined together by a hallway. 

The Lion House (left) and Beehive House (right). Photo taken in 1858. 

13. A locust tree in the garden of the Beehive House grew from a seed brought all the way from Nauvoo by Brigham Young’s mother-in-law, Harriet Page Decker Young. 

The tree used to stand near a small gate in the garden but was later cut down.

14. The estate was surrounded by nine-foot-high cobblestone walls, which were built to protect the home against flooding, to provide employment for emigrants, and to offer protection from Native Americans. 

The wall now borders the north and east sides of the home and an iron fence replaced the other walls. 

15. Settlers in the area often had to ask Brigham Young for permission to pass through the estate’s entrance where the Eagle Gate was located. 

The eagle was designed by Truman Angell, carved by Ralph Ramsey, and held together by pieces of iron. An old legend says that every time the eagle heard the noon whistle blow, he’d fly down State Street to the old wooden watering trough, get a drink of water, and fly back again. The original eagle statue is now housed in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum. 

16. The Beehive House was made with adobe, the most easily obtainable substance at the time. 

It was plastered on top of sandstone and sun-dried. Brigham Young said about the structure, "There is not marble in the mountains or stone of any kind or quality that I would rather have a building made of adobe. As for the durability of such a building, the longer it stands the better it becomes."

17. Brigham Young planned the design of the Beehive House to be Greek Revival, which is similar to the New England homes he saw growing up in Vermont. 

Many of the characteristics inside the home are also Victorian in nature. 

A Place of Administration, Renovation, and Revelation

18. The Beehive House was home to three prophets for more than 50 years.

Brigham Young lived there from 1852 to 1877, Lorenzo Snow from 1898 to 1901, and Joseph F. Smith from 1901 to 1917. 

Office of Joseph Fielding Smith

19. In one of the upstairs bedrooms of the Beehive House, Joseph F. Smith was pondering the scriptures and received the revelation for missionary work for the dead. 

“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 138: 36-37, 58-59).

20. While within the walls of the home, Lorenzo Snow oversaw the rescue of handcart pioneers and other major Church and political administrations. 

For example, the reorganization of the Relief Society, the Young Men and Young Women programs, Primary, and battle plans during the Utah War were all discussed in the Beehive House. 

21. The Beehive House was used as a temporary boarding home for young Latter-day Saint women workers.

It was used this way for about 40 years, starting around April 3, 1920, and ending in the 1960s. 

 Cynthia Mallory in front of the Beehive House.

22. At one point, the Church considered tearing down the Beehive House. 

However, after hearing protests from nearby residents and Young Women General President Florence Jacobsen, among others, the Church decided to keep and renovate the historic building and turn it into a museum.

23. The office next door to the Beehive House was once the headquarters for the Church Administration Building from 1852 to 1918. 

There, Church employees met and managed the Church’s growth. However, they no longer needed it when the Church Office Building was built in the 1970s.

24. Twenty-one rooms and three hallways were restored in the Beehive Home. 

These restored rooms were revealed on Pioneer Day, July 24, 1961. These renovations were in addition to the ones John W. Young made in 1888, which had already doubled the house in size and brought an added sophistication.

25. Parts of the Beehive House that were not restored were the attic, third floor, the cellar, and the grounds.

The third-floor rooms weren't restored due to the fact that John W. Young had already made expansions to that part of the building in 1888.

Lead photo and all other photos from the Utah State Historical Society, unless otherwise indicated.
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