Fun Facts About Hotel Utah

On June 9, 1911, the Hotel Utah opened its doors in Salt Lake City. Today, it's known as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, but back then it was know as the place to be in Salt Lake.

* While President McKay lived at the Hotel Utah, the staff serenaded him and his wife on birthdays and made special tributes for them on holidays.


* In 1984, the ledges of the Hotel Utah became home to a pair of Peregrine falcons. Today, returning falcons make homes in a white box, visible on the east wall. A few years ago they even had three fledglings.


* Beginning in 1950, KSL’s Channel 5 illustrator, Roscoe Grover, hosted his daily “Playtime Party” at the Hotel Utah coffee shop, drawing pictures for children as they dined with their parents.


* Applauded for its fabulous service, employees really were helpful all around, occasionally sheltering a transient in the hotel garage. Staff would smuggle him blankets to make his stay more comfortable, until his hideout was discovered by the general manager, Stuart Cross. After calling for his car, he stepped in on the driver’s side just as the homeless man stepped out on the other.


* One day, the front desk received an angry call from a puzzled elderly guest as she settled in her room. After demanding the manager explain how she was to put her things away when she couldn’t use her bureau, the manager went straight up to the room. He found the drawers blocked with a “Do Not Disturb” sign.


* December 5, 1963 brought the hotel quite a challenge as staff puzzled at how to get a 27-foot blue spruce through a revolving door. Starting with ten employees tugging at 1:30 p.m., they soon gained eight more to the hand-and-fist struggle. Finally, by shaving and hacking off branches here and there, the tree finally pulled through at 4:30 p.m. It stood as the tallest indoor tree in town.


* In May 1985, two large plastic bags were dropped at the Salt Lake County Attorney’s office. Each bag was accompanied by a note containing a bit of history and confession. Each package contained a large American flag. One, stolen from the State Capitol, was lifted at about the same time as the Hotel Utah’s “Old Glory,” fifteen years before. The hotel sent someone to pick up the flag, but the banner never returned. An excited unknown woman claimed the Hotel Utah flag, and it hasn’t been seen since.


Do you have any memories of the Hotel Utah? Leave a comment below.

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