Un-permitted Demolition of this Historic Church was begun on Easter 2024

Fifth Ward Meetinghouse, Salt Lake City Utah
Date added: April 01, 2024 Categories:
Front and south side (1978)

In the settlement and development of the Great Basin area, the peculiar efficiency of the Mormon Church organization (likened by Samuel Clemens to the Prussian Army) was responsible for the creation of stable communities both in outlying settlement areas and in Salt Lake City itself. The basic ecclesiastical unit that made directed economic activity and effective social institutions possible was the 'Ward."

With an appointed Bishop at its head, the Ward functioned as an extended family offering encouragement and assistance to its members as they struggled to establish families, businesses, and farms, in the arid wilderness. The significance of the Fifth Ward is that it symbolizes this vital institution.

The Fifth Ward in Salt Lake City is one of the oldest of these ecclesiastical units in the Mormon Church. Formed in 1853 on the southwest section of the growing metropolis, the community centered on farming. The Ward met first in a succession of small adobe meeting houses, but as the city grew, the area became more residential and the people engaged in a greater variety of occupations. At the height of the Ward's strength, in 1910, it was decided to construct a new chapel. The red brick Tudor Gothic structure chosen was considered a handsome addition to the neighborhood. But even as the ward continued to grow during World War I and the between-wars period, the demography of the area was undergoing change toward light industrial development. The addition made in 1937 was intended to improve the quality of the church program by expanding the physical facilities, but the changing character of the neighborhood resulted in a steady decline in family membership.

During its existence the ward served a variety of groups, reflecting the current nature of immigration into Salt Lake City. In the twentieth century, the ward membership had a strong European immigrant flavor, that was gradually being combined with Hispanic-American. In the few years before the decision to sell the structures, the Fifth Ward became the Lamanite Ward to serve the needs of Salt Lake City's urban Indian population.

Today, in the hands of private developers, the dignity of the Tudor Gothic styling is a decided asset to the ambiance of what would otherwise be an area blighted with small business, houses, and industrial yards.

On March 31st, 2024, Easter Sunday, without any permits, demolition of the Church was begun. fortunately, a staff member of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City drove past the building and quickly reported the activity to the city, who halted the work. The news articles linked below provide more details.

'It is unacceptable': Salt Lake City halts demolition of historic church over Easter weekend

Historic building in Salt Lake City wrongfully demolished

More details of historic Salt Lake building demolition emerge; city seeks changes

Salt Lake City says owner must restore the partly demolished Fifth Ward LDS meetinghouse

Building Description

The church is designed in the Tudor Gothic style, with Tudor window bays distinguished with corbeled arches, and the gable facades are decorated with bands of white brick alternating with bands of red. There are concrete-capped buttresses at the corners of the building, as well as between the window bays, and the deeply recessed windows feature thick mullions and splayed casings. Overall, the church is a two-story T-shaped plan with shallow, pitched gable roofs. A front addition, completed in 1957 in the same Tudor style, somewhat obscured the dramatic symbolism of the large Tudor Gothic window above the main entrance. Although retained, its visual impact was diminished. The chapel interior could hold 300 people.

Fifth Ward Meetinghouse, Salt Lake City Utah Front and south side (1978)
Front and south side (1978)

Fifth Ward Meetinghouse, Salt Lake City Utah Front and north side (1978)
Front and north side (1978)