The Hotel Utah History



The Hotel Utah History

The Hotel Utah history is quite long. But its history is not boring, as it’s packed with many different interesting things that happened in the building. Nowadays it is named Joseph Smith Memorial Building, a name that was chosen in honor of the LDS movement of Joseph Smith, Jr.

The location of the building is right at the corner of South Temple and Main Street. The Hotel Utah history led to today’s standard, an administrative building. One of the most important moments in the Hotel Utah history was January 3rd, 1978, when the National Register of Historic Places listed it as Hotel Utah. The building then became officially a part of US history and solidified it as an important tourist attraction.

The Hotel Utah History

The location of the building has always been a really important one in the history of Utah. Before the construction of Hotel Utah, which took place between 1909 and 1911, different hotel-utah-historical in salt lakebuildings were located there. This includes a storehouse of the bishop, The LDS church and Desert news main printing plant. All of them figured prominently in the area.

The work on the actual Hotel Utah started in 1909 and it was based on the work done by Parkinson and Bergstrom architectural firm, based in Los Angeles. The aim was to have a renaissance revival type hotel. The building did not last long and it was finished a lot faster than people expected. The grand opening was held on June 9th, 1911.

At that time, LDS was the main stockholder and because of this, there were many Mormons that stayed there. Because of the earning potential, there were also local business leaders that purchased stock. This was mainly done because of an attempt to offer a high quality, first-class establishment in the city.

A special part of the Hotel Utah history is linked to a bar that was built in the basement. This was basically done in an attempt to have the finest and largest bar located in the West and to pay a debt of 2 million dollars due to construction loans. Financing was then secured by Charles W. Nibley, presiding bishop of LDS, from Charles Baruch, a very well known New York financier. It was obvious that this immediately meant that hard liquor needed to be sold and this infuriated President Smith, which eventually capitulated.

The quality of the building was really high and the Hotel Utah history basically revolves around that. It is a structure based on steel and concrete that withstood the test of time. Besides the structure, the covering is done with brick and white glazed terra cotta. Different remodeling actions and additions appeared as years passed. The biggest modification was an expansion towards North. It’s also important to note and to check out the roof-top modifications done to accommodate extra dining facilities.

Hotel Utah history is also linked a little with movies. It was featured in “Harry In Your Pocket” – a 1973 film with James Coburn.

Right until August 1987, the building operated as a hotel but has never done so since then. A really major adaptive reuse and remodeling project started then in order to accommodate church functions and community functions. It was finished in the year 1993. Gordon B. Hinckley, church leader at the time, was the person that chose the name the building currently holds – Joseph Smith Memorial Building. This was due to the fact that in Salt Lake City there are so many monuments that showcased the pioneer leader and founder Brigham Young. None existed for Joseph Smith and there was a desire to change that.

The Effects Of World Wars On Hotel Utah History

Hotel Utah history was highly affected by the world wars. In the beginning the hotel was built in order bring the community together and it only cost 2 million dollars. The success of the hotel was actually huge but this changed when World War I started.

Occupancy rate fell by around 50% and the board decided that they needed to reduce all expenses and then keep all services as high class as possible. This was an approach that did pay off and in the year 1918 we saw the addition of 100 extra guest rooms. By 1922, the Hotel Utah ended up paying 4% dividends to all stockholders.

A problem appeared during the Great Depression, when profits dropped by 50% in 2 consecutive months of 1929. The management, once again, managed to solve the problems by simply cutting $1 from the price for single beds and $1.5 from double beds.

During World War II the occupancy actually increased because of military camps that were located in the vicinity. Hotel Utah supported the war by making generous donations and even printing a daily news bulletin called “Today’s War News” for all diners and guests. In addition, they constantly used advertising properly and this brought in a lot of new clients.

JFK at the Hotel UtahImportant Guests

During the fifties, sixties and seventies there were many famous guests that stayed at the hotel. This includes Lowell Thomas, John F. Kennedy, Katherine Hepburn, Van Cliburn, Henry Fonda, Liberace, Harrison Salisbury, John Glenn, Ella Fitzgerald and Spencer W. Kimball. Ted Gallegos mentioned that this was a place where he learned many life lessons. When he was 17 years old he created a large-scale, striking drawing of George Harrison. He met the former Beatle there because he was in the town for a concert. George also signed the artwork.

The Hotel Utah

Even if Hotel Utah does not operate as a hotel anymore, it is one of the most important landscapes of the city. Even if its name was changed to the Joseph Smith Memorial, it is still referred to as the Hotel Utah because of the vast Hotel Utah history. The building is one of the really important historical monuments of the city and thousands of tourists visit it every single month. If you are in the area, you need to make sure that you stop by to experience a part of real history.

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The Hotel Utah History| Hotels and Lodging in UT Information

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