LOCAL NEWS

Community mourns damaged historic 5th Ward meetinghouse that has lived many lives

Apr 2, 2024, 7:15 PM | Updated: 7:17 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Local leaders said they support an investigation into the started-and-halted demolition of the 5th Ward meetinghouse in Salt Lake City. Officials stopped crews from completely tearing down the historic building on Sunday. The former church is now surrounded by fences.

Crews are busy boarding up the structure while community members from all walks of life stopped by Tuesday to take photos of what it looks like now, damaged, and to share memories of time spent in the building.

‘It is unacceptable’: Salt Lake City halts demolition of historic church over Easter weekend

“This ward has really a special place for all of us who ever lived here,” Ellie Pack, who was raised there, said. “I’m kind of emotional to see what has happened to this beautiful building and why the respect was not there of the person that was involved.”

The building was built by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. And since then, it’s had many lives. Brandy Strand, the executive director of Preservation Utah, said it held real estate offices, architecture firms, a beauty salon, a school, and a Buddhist temple.

Nirvanna stopped by to play a show on June 11, 1991. Tickets were $10.

simple print poster

A concert promotional for a show at the historical 5th Ward meetinghouse that was The Pompadour Rock & Roll Club and hosted Dinosaur Jr. and Nirvana on June 11, 1991. The building was partially destroyed on March 31, 2024 before the effort was halted.

“This building was built by, I’m going to say, sweat and blood,” Strand said.

“I’m absolutely devastated that something like this can happen,” she said. “What feels like at the dead of night when there are policies and processes that everyone needs to go through to ensure that buildings that are meant to be demolished have the appropriate permits and the appropriate processes have been followed.”

Preservation Utah — once known as Utah Heritage Foundation — is a statewide historic preservation organization first established in 1966.

“My grandparents, my great grandparents all went to this ward,” Pack said. “I was actually the last missionary to report in this ward.”

She even temporarily called it home. A flood in 1952 forced seven families to live there.

“My mother, she was the head cook … we were there for about a month and a half,” Pack said. “I’m kind of emotional to see what has happened to this beautiful building.”

Strand wants to help preserve the building that Preservation Utah has been tracking for years.

“It’s just so cool to think it’s been so many things, and it can still be so much more for our community,” Strand said. It is difficult for her and Pack to see the condition of the building now.

“I worry that if this can happen here, can it happen to other historic buildings,” Strand said.

Multiple requests for comment were sent to Jordan Atkin, who’s listed as the registered manager of the property’s owner, 300 West Holdings, LLC, but went unanswered.

“My heart is very sad because someone could take control as he has to destroy a wonderful thing,” Pack said.

The city council is meeting Tuesday night to discuss proposed changes that would create harsher penalties for unpermitted work. The public will have a chance to voice opinions later this month.

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Community mourns damaged historic 5th Ward meetinghouse that has lived many lives