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Joseph Smith Memorial Building

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The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is named in honour of Joseph Smith, Jr.. It is located on the corner of Main Street and South Temple in Salt Lake City. Previously a hotel, it is now an administrative building.

History of the location and building

The corner of Main Street and South Temple has long been important in Utah history. Prior to construction of the Hotel Utah in 1909-11, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' general tithing office, bishop's storehouse, and the Deseret News printing plant were located on the site.

Work on the Second Renaissance Revival style hotel, designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Parkinson and Bergstrom, began in June 1909. Two years later, on June 9, 1911, the Hotel Utah opened for business. While the church was the primary stockholder, many Mormon and non-Mormon community and business leaders also purchased stock in the effort to provide the city with a first-class hotel.

"The largest and finest bar in the West was built in the basement of the Hotel" to help pay off a $2M construction loan. The financing was secured by Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley, from New York financier Charles Baruch. But the scheme obviously required the sales of hard liquor. When informed of building a bar, “President Joseph F. Smith went through the ceiling; which was it to be, the word of Wisdom or fiscal soundness?" In the end, President Smith capitulated. (Hugh Nibley, "Approaching Zion", p. 470. Deseret Book 1989).

The ten-story building has a concrete and steel structure and is covered with white glazed terra cotta and brick. Various additions and remodelings have occurred throughout the years, including a substantial expansion to the north and modifications to the roof-top dining facilities.

The building ceased operations as a hotel in August 1987. A major remodeling and adaptive reuse project to accommodate both community and church functions was completed in 1993.

Current use

The church now uses this building as follows:

  • A large, historical ornately decorated multi-story lobby, featuring a large white statue of Joseph Smith, Jr., and an enormous crystal chandelier. Live classical music is often performed here as background.
  • The FamilySearch center, where the public can use the provided computers and materials to do family history research and genealogy.
  • The Legacy Theater, where the public can enjoy inspirational regularly scheduled free showings of various church-produced movies.
  • Two fine dining restaurants, The Roof and The Garden, on the top floor, provide wonderful views of downtown Salt Lake City.
  • Interior levels of the building are devoted to ongoing work on various Church software projects, supporting the worldwide Family History centers, and various other activities.
  • Many rooms on the ground level, and on the ninth and tenth floors, can be rented out for wedding receptions or dinners.

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