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Utah Arts Alliance Transforms Old Church, Recording Studio Into ‘Art Castle’

SALT LAKE CITY — Artists and musicians are trying to breathe new life into an old Salt Lake City church with a unique, lesser-told history.

Built in 1900, the 15th Ward chapel, located at 915 West and 100 South, served as a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for decades.

That was until the building was sold and converted into a secretive recording studio. In recent decades, production companies there were responsible for musical recordings, theatrical scores for prominent Hollywood films and jingles for notable television shows.

“In here, like in this very spot right here, this is where Elton John, Billy Joel, B.B. King — even Eminem — had all been in here,” said Jonathan King. “This was the recording studio of Salt Lake City.”

King, who handles outreach and community events for The Utah Arts Alliance, said his organization entered a lease for the space three months ago after the previous operators of the studio moved out.

The alliance dubbed it the “Art Castle” and is now in the process of raising funds* to purchase the property and improve on it in the future. The aim is to provide a space for aspiring artists and musicians while preserving the history of the building.

“A lot of people say we need to save our history and we’re actually trying to do something about it,” King said.

The group plans to eventually stabilize and repair the building by replacing the roof, installing seismic upgrades and restoring the windows. The Utah Arts Alliance also has plans for a sculpture garden and an area for an artist marketplace on the front lawn.

“If we do a good enough job, maybe this will be called the ‘Art Castle district,’” King said.

King said the surrounding community has been attracted to the efforts to restore the building, and those efforts certainly resonated with longtime neighbor Louis Mattena — who recalls wandering through the halls and playing in the gym back when the structure was a church.

He said he was very supportive of the Utah Arts Alliance’s plans.

“I want my grandkids to see it,” Mattena said. “Cool old buildings like this don’t last, so yeah, we want to keep it.”

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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