An acting company headquarters and a car repair shop: 19 Latter-day Saint meetinghouses in Utah that have been used for other things

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As Latter-day Saints began gathering in Utah, the need for meetinghouses and other facilities quickly grew. Before the more standard style and floor plan of current meetinghouses, many early meetinghouses started as small one-room log structures that were replaced and expanded as the wards grew. But what happens when those buildings are replaced by larger facilities?

Some meetinghouses have been torn down to make way for temples or other Church facilities (for instance, the stake center where the Taylorsville Utah Temple is now under construction). Others continue to bepreserved and used for their original purpose. But many older meetinghouses have been sold and “repurposed” into a variety of venues over the years.

Here are a few of the ways meetinghouses have been used after they were no longer needed for worship.

Meetings and Museums

As historic buildings, often the first of their kind in their area, unused meetinghouses are the perfect place to gather community members together and share the local history. Here are a few meetinghouses that have done just that.

Grantsville School and Meetinghouse
A 1995 historic places registration form shares the history of the one-storyGrantsville School and Meetinghouse built in 1861. The building was only used for Church meetings until 1865 when it was replaced by a larger meetinghouse, but it was subsequently used as a school and then as a town city hall for more than 20 years. It later became a service station for a short time, and most recently was turned into a museum. 

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Image from Wikimedia Commons

West Jordan Ward Meetinghouse

Several retired meetinghouses have been acquired by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP) and are now used for meetings by that group. The West Jordan Ward meetinghouse, sometimes called Pioneer Hall, was dedicated in 1867 and replaced a log cabin meetinghouse that the local Saints had outgrown until it, too, was outgrown in 1913 and replaced by a larger one. Pioneer Hall housed animals and was used as a car repair shop for a while before the DUP acquired and restored it. Today it is used for occasional weddings or parties in addition to housing DUP meetings.

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Image by David Jay Fullmer - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51428892 

Torrey Log Church

The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers also acquired the one-story Torrey Log Church, which was used as both a schoolhouse (until 1917) and a Church meetinghouse (until 1928). The DUP used the building for meetings until the 1970s and then inherited it in the 1980s. The historic log building was removed from its original location on Church property in 1991, was fully restored, and continues to be used today.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Parowan’s “Old Rock Church”

Construction on Parowan’s “Old Rock Church” was completed in 1870. Over the years it functioned as a meetinghouse, town meeting hall, community recreation center, seminary building, school, and dance hall before being acquired by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers in 1927. Today the building is a museum and meeting place for the DUP.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

White Memorial Chapel

If you have ever been to the Utah State Capitol Building, you might recognize the historic White Memorial Chapel from across the street. Originally built on A Street and 2nd Avenue in 1883 for the 18th Ward, it was disassembled in 1973 and rebuilt in its current location in 1976 on land donated by the Utah State Legislature. Other fun facts about the chapel: It was built by the same architect who constructed the Assembly Hall and it was the location for the launch of the Sunday School program. Today it is a non-denominational chapel used for civic purposes and can be scheduled for weddings, concerts, and other special events.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Alpine Meetinghouse

The Alpine Meetinghouse’s claim to fame is the sandstone carving above the door, which was done by John Rowe Moyle—the same man stonemason who inscribed “Holiness to the Lord” on the Salt Lake Temple. Dedicated in 1863, the building was used as a city hall for a time before becoming a museum in the 1930s.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Homes

While it might sound strange at first, old meetinghouses can make the perfect “home, sweet home” From single-family homes to apartments to factories, here are a few retired meetinghouses that have had home makeovers.

Lehi Third Ward Building

The Lehi Third Ward buildingwas constructed in the early 1890s and later had a wing of classrooms added in 1917. When a new meetinghouse was built in 1955, the building was no longer maintained until Ross and Jean Lamb bought it in the late 1960s. They did their best to restore, replace, and repair the historic structure and sometimes invited ward choirs to practice in the old chapel to bring music back to it.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Porterville Meetinghouse

Though the Porterville Meetinghouse is now just a set of abandoned walls after it was gutted by a massive fire in 2001, it had a short stint as a home to the Bergman family. Thomas Bergman bought the meetinghouse for $2,000 in 1975 and restored it before moving in with his family.  It was originally built in 1908 and closed in 1945, likely because of high heating bills.

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Porterville Ward Meetinghouse
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Image: Utah State Historical Society

Provo Fourth Ward Chapel

While some meetinghouses-turned-homes accommodate only one family, the Provo Fourth Ward Chapel now houses multiple beautiful one-bedroom apartments. Though not as old as some buildings on this list, the chapel has seen its fair share of history. Construction began in 1915 but was halted due to World War I and wasn’t completed until 1925. Today, the apartments display artifacts found in the building during renovation and the original brick has been exposed, adding to its historic feel.

See a photo at the Daily Herald

1930s Salt Lake Meetinghouse

This 1930s meetinghouse in Salt Lake served as a private school run by the Catholic Church before it was purchased by the John Robinson family in 1992. The family remodeled it over the years and used it for large family gatherings, parties, etc.

See a photo at Fox13.

Treasureton Ward Meetinghouse

The Treasureton Ward meetinghouse served ward members from 1953 until about 1977, when it was converted into a six-bedroom, three-bathroom home. The Amon and Almira Hatch family lived there with their eight children until 2016.

See a photo at HJ News.

American Fork Second Ward Chapel

One of the more unique remodels of a meetinghouse might include the American Fork Second Ward Chapel, which now houses not only the Bigelow family but also their organ building factory. Built in 1903, additions were made in 1929, including the cultural hall. The building was sold in the 1980s to Michael Bigelow, who transformed the main level into a factoryfor Bigelow & Co., Inc., Organ Builders. The family lives in the upstairs rooms of the building.

Blue Church Lodge

After surviving multiple fires and renovations, Blue Church Lodgein Park City was ultimately rebuilt into a quaint lodge and townhouses in 1983.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Other Uses

While retired meetinghouse can go through a number of uses, here are a few unique and exciting ways some former chapels are being used today.

Old Rock Church

Some meetinghouses see only one primary use after being retired as worship centers. But the “Old Rock Church” in Providence, Utah, spent time as a fabric store and reception center, a private home, and an assisted living center. It is currently a bed and breakfast and event center. It was completed in 1872 and originally doubled as a meetinghouse and a town hall but was sold in 1969.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Granite Chapel

The Granite Chapeltook nearly 40 years to complete and was dedicated in 1939. The white color was added to it in 1950, covering up the original red brick. When the space was replaced by a larger building in 1965, the cornerstone was also moved to a new building. A short while later, Latter-day Saint sculptor Avard Fairbanks purchased the building for $2,000 and used it as an art studio until he passed away in 1987. Today it still houses Avard’s works of art.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Payson Fourth Ward Meetinghouse

A handful of meetinghouses still serve as worship centers, though not necessarily for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For instance, thePayson Fourth Ward Meetinghouse, built in 1910, today serves as a meetinghouse for the Catholic Church.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Murray Second Ward Meetinghouse

The Murray Second Ward Meetinghousewas completed in 1909 but was relegated to a storage space after a new building was constructed. In 1977 it was sold to the Alano Club (a non-denominational support for recovering alcoholics) and continues to house the organization today. A second Murray meetinghouse, which housed the Murray 1st Ward, served as the Mount Vernon Academy until it wasdemolished just last year.

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Image by Daver1956 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51911681

19th Ward Meetinghouse

In downtown Salt Lake, there are a few special, old meetinghouses that now support the arts. For instance, the19th Ward Meetinghouse built in 1892 has housed the Salt Lake Acting Company since 1982. The company also uses the neighboring Relief Society Hall, which wasrecently renovated along with the meetinghouse.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

15th Ward Meetinghouse

On a similar note, the 1900s-age 15th Ward Meetinghouse has been used largely as a recording studio for Non-Stop Music and L.A. East studios since it was retired from Church service in the late 1960s. Theme music for NBA on ESPN, ABC, and Judge Judy have been recorded there in addition to movie trailer music for movies like Toy Story and the Lion King. Stars such as Elton John, Dolly Parton, and the Backstreet Boys have also recorded there. The building was put up for sale last year.

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Historic 15th Ward Chapel

► You may also like: 7 beautifully unique Latter-day Saint chapels (and the stories behind them)

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