Church News and Events

History on Display at the Hotel Utah’s 100th Birthday

  • 10 June 2011

President Monson cut the ribbon to open an exhibit celebrating the 100-year birthday of the former Hotel Utah, where he took his now-wife on a date more than six decades ago.

Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, participated in the continuing history of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, when he cut the ribbon to open an exhibit celebrating the 100th birthday of the former Hotel Utah.

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

“Those who wanted it preserved were driven by the power of memory,” President Monson said. “I like to think the Lord intervened, that He wanted us to take care of the Grand Old Lady, just to give her a new dress.“

More than 60 years ago, just before he entered the U.S. Navy in World War II, President Monson took the girl he would marry, Frances Beverly Johnson, on a date to dinner at the hotel.

”I told her that I felt like I was lucky and that I would come back,” he joked. “She thought that would be a good thing.“

The building 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.

The ribbon-cutting event wasn’t the only history on display on Thursday evening, though. Behind the ribbon was a meticulously gathered exhibition highlighting 100 years of Hotel Utah/Joseph Smith Memorial Building memorabilia.

Pictures, newspaper clippings, and other items connected to the historical building from bygone years were carefully laid out along the lobby walls—a room receipt, dishes, and cardboard cutouts of famous visitors to the hotel. The crowning item on display was a black 1912 Cadillac.

The free, public display will stay open through September.

An invite-only gala on Friday will transport approximately 500 Church and community leaders back to the building’s golden years, with live-band entertainment, delicious historic food, and the reappearance of the famous Hotel Utah roll.

Those with stories, memorabilia, or memories of the famous structure or those interested in learning more about the historic building are invited to visit hotelutah100.com.