This weekend I crossed the border and discovered Salt Lake City. I’m so glad I did because Salt Lake is a community with an appreciation for the arts, history, education, architecture, an emphasis on healthy outdoor living and family oriented activities. I can’t wait to share this wonderful experience with you.
Hundreds of years ago the Ute Tribe, from which the state takes its name, and the Navajo Indians lived in this region before Mormon pioneers arrived. The pioneers, led by Brigham Young, were the first non-Indians to settle permanently in the Salt Lake Valley. The group consisted of a mere 143 men, three women, and two children. The Mormons came to the valley in search of a region where they could practice their religion, free from hostile mobs and persecution. When Brigham Young first saw the valley he said, “This is the place.”
It’s said that on their very day of arrival the pioneers began tilling the soil and planting crops. The following Spring plague of crickets nearly destroyed the harvest. Flocks of seagulls consumed the crickets and enough of the crop was saved to enable the settlers to survive. In gratitude, the seagull was later designated Utah’s state bird.
I began my day at Temple Square, home of the Temple. Dedicated in 1893, the Salt Lake Temple, the sixth and largest temple completed by the LDS church, required 40 years to complete. The Salt Lake Temple is the centerpiece of the tranquil and beautifully landscaped 10-acre Temple Square and is considered so sacred that few members (and no public) are permitted to enter.
I visited the dome-shaped Tabernacle, which is so acoustically sensitive that a pin dropped at the pulpit can be clearly heard at the back of the hall, 170 feet away, is home to the world-famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir and one of the world’s great musical instruments, a magnificent pipe organ with 11,623 pipes. I can’t believe I’ve been lucky enough to seen them twice. It’s an extraordinary experience. To watch the May 1st performance I attended: https://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/content/motab/en/videos/may-1-2016-music-and-the-spoken-word.html
Along Temple Rd, but still part of Temple Square is The Beehive House. Built in the Temple Square between 1853 and 1855 and served as home to Brigham Young when he was President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and governor of the Utah Territory.
Next door is The Lion House built in 1856 by Brigham Young. The home derives its name from the stone lion statue resting over the front entrance. “Lion of the Lord” was Brigham Young’s nickname. The home now houses The Lion House Pantry Restaurant which was sadly closed when I was there.
Salt Lake began to assume its present cosmopolitan character in the early 1900s. The State Capitol and many other historic buildings were constructed.
The Capitol Theatre is one of Salt Lake County’s most beloved, and a personal favorite, buildings. A landmark in downtown Salt Lake since 1913. It’s for its elegant turn-of-the century architecture and serves as the home for Ballet West, Utah Opera, Children’s Dance Theatre, and Broadway Across America -Utah.
For more than 150 years, the Eagle Gate has been one of downtown Salt Lake City’s most prominent landmarks. Eagle Gate, which had served to mark the entrance to Brigham Young’s estate, was reconstructed to allow traffic flow.
The Emanuel Kahn House build in 1889, now operates as the Anniversary Inn Bed and Breakfast. It’s significant to Salt Lake City history because Kahn, an immigrant from Germany, was one of the first Jewish merchants in Utah. And it’s also significant as an outstanding Queen Anne style house build by one of the first “Gentile” (non-Mormon) architects in Utah.
Built in 1902 by the prominent mining magnate, U.S. Senator Thomas Kearns, this elegant and opulent home was donated to the state in 1937. The mansion has been restored to its decorative 1902 original style and serves as Utah’s Governor’s Mansion.
The David Keith Mansion and Carriage House was built during 1898-1900. Keith started his life as a miner in Nova Scotia before traveling to California and becoming friends with Thomas Kearns. In Salt Lake Keith owned and operated The Salt Lake Tribune and lived in the magnificent mansion until 1916. A day after his death, a Salt Lake Tribune editorial praised Keith as “one of that mighty company of daring men with vision who unlocked the treasures of the west and built an empire unsurpassed even by the dreams of romance.”
A favorite of my tour guide, The historic McCune Mansion in Salt Lake City was completed at a cost of $1,000,000.00 in 1901 by entrepreneur and railroad tycoon Alfred W. McCune as his family home. When the McCune Family decided to move his large family to Los Angeles in 1920, they donated the Mansion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which, in turn, used it to establish the McCune School of Music. Today the McCune Mansion offers a stunning setting for weddings, anniversaries, celebrations, board meetings, retreats and other important occasions.
Built in 1927, the Salt Lake Masonic Temple is the Masonic headquarters for Utah, and is Salt Lake City’s best example of Egyptian Revival Architecture which was in the height of fashion at the time.
Before long, other religions found Great Salt Lake. The Cathedral of the Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church in Salt Lake City. It was completed in 1909 and currently serves as the mother church of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. The cathedral combines a predominately Romanesque exterior with a Gothic interior and is listed on the Utah Register of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.
Not to be left out, Daniel S. Tuttle, a native of New York state, was elected by the Episcopal Church to be missionary bishop to the new territory of Montana with jurisdiction in areas that later became the states of Utah and Idaho. He arrived in Salt Lake City July 2, 1867 and began to build a congregation. Built in 1871, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral is the third oldest Episcopal Cathedral in the United States and the second oldest continuously used worship building in Utah.
We ended the tour at the state capitol. For nearly a century, the State Capitol has been one of Utah’s most prominent landmarks. Designed by local architect Richard K. A. Kletting, the Capitol has been home to state government since its opening in 1916. From 2004 to 2008, the Utah State Capitol underwent one of the largest historical preservation projects to restore the magnificent artwork and safe-guard the building against the risk of an earthquake.
Between 1900-1930, the city’s population nearly tripled. The downtown skyline changed again in the 1990s when the Salt Palace Convention Center was rebuilt and continued when Salt Lake hosted the Olympic Winter Games in February 2002. The largest city ever to host the winter games, many of the venues are still in place and available for the public to enjoy and relive Olympic memories. I need to return for an Olympic tour. (Fun fact: They’re talking about putting in another Olympic bid)
Many of the Salt Palace Convention center’s most striking visual features are obtained through the creative use of hollow structural steel in exposed applications. I loved the entrance towers, delicate snowflake chandeliers, a red Chihuly against a gold-leaf staircase and the grand five-story main concourse. This convention center is really modern art sculpture.
I was thrilled everything I saw and can’t wait to return to this beautiful cosmopolitan city in the mountains.