Hotel Utah Exhibit, Documentary Runs through September

  • 19 September 2011

“It’s not just the building, it’s the emotions that are brought about as people come here and as they have experiences here.” —Rob Sibley, BYU Broadcasting producer

An exhibit and film clips on the history of the now 100-year-old Joseph Smith Memorial Building (formerly the Hotel Utah) will continue to be available to the public through the end of September in the building's lobby.

In June President Thomas S. Monson cut the ribbon to the centennial exhibit, which highlights 100 years of Hotel Utah/Joseph Smith Memorial Building memorabilia, including pictures, newspaper clippings, and other items connected to the historical building from bygone years: a room receipt, dishes, and cardboard cutouts of famous visitors to the hotel. The crowning item on display is a black 1912 Cadillac.

That’s not all that’s on display, though. Clips from a BYU-TV documentary about the old Hotel Utah are also available for viewing in the building’s lobby. Set on a continuous loop, the 15-minute excerpt from the longer documentary details hotel history and the memories of different people who lived and worked there.

BYU Broadcasting producer Rob Sibley created the film. He studied biographies, researched historical documents, and collected stories from people who submitted their own personal recollections of the building.

“[The film] helps people understand that it’s not just the building, it’s the emotions that are brought about as people come here and as they have experiences here,” he said in an interview with KSL in June.

The full-length documentary is set to debut on BYU-TV in December.

The building, located on the corner of Main Street and South Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, was known as the Hotel Utah from 1911 to 1987, when discussions on tearing it down began.

Instead, the hotel was closed for extensive renovations that year, and it reopened as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in 1993. It now houses the Legacy Theater, a FamilySearch center, a floral shop, beautiful banquet rooms, and three different eateries.