Repurposing secular buildings

While some religious buildings have been repurposed for secular uses, there are also examples of the opposite approach, turning private and commercial spaces into houses of worship.

Madina Mosque

A former bank on North Temple Street, now a mosque.

Chua Tam Bao

A private residence on 7th West turned into a Buddhist temple.

Free Church of Tonga

A former public library on 2nd North is now home to the Free Church of Tonga.

Many of the historical photographs in this exhibit were taken in the 1910s by Newell Beeman, a retired businessman. Find them in the Digital Library’s Multimedia Archives Photograph Collection

The newer photos are part of a set taken in 2018 to provide a centennial “update” to Beeman’s work. They demonstrate how the religious landscape has changed, with older congregations moving to new homes and their former quarters becoming homes to new communities of other faith traditions or recent arrivals from other countries. In the Digital Library, look for the Salt Lake Religious Architecture photograph collection.

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

Zion Lutheran Church, one of several congregations that left the downtown area for the East Bench in the mid-20th century.

First United Methodist Church

First United Methodist, one of the historical downtown churches still in use for religious purposes, is overshadowed by new high-rise offices.

Korean Presbyterian Church, 21st South

The former East Bench home of the First Church of the Nazarene, which moved to West Valley City, now houses the Korean Presbyterian Church.

Contemporary Buildings

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still looms large in the city it founded. Many of the ward houses photographed by Beeman have been replaced by newer structures, not all of which were photographed for the 2018 update. But even some newer buildings were later replaced and have participated in the repurposing trend.

Capital Church (Assembly of God)

The former Emigration Ward LDS Chapel, built in 1951 to replace an earlier structure, has in recent years been an Assembly of God congregation. It typifies post-World War II LDS church buildings, while the current occupants added the cross to the steeple.

Joseph Smith Memorial Building

The LDS Church has even repurposed secular spaces for religious purposes. After they closed the Hotel Utah near Temple Square, turning it into office space as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, they remodeled a ballroom into a chapel now used by two downtown wards.

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