Editor's note: This article is part of a series reviewing Utah and national history for KSL.com's Historic section.
MURRAY — Less than three years after a court order to protect a handful of historic buildings in Murray, a pair of the city’s century-old buildings are no more.
The demolition of the Murray First Ward meetinghouse and the old Carnegie Library began this week. It was the outcome for the buildings that Kathleen Stanford, a Murray resident and founder of Historic Murray First Foundation, had fought to prevent.
She stood in the background watching as a backhoe leveled the walls of the meetinghouse Tuesday afternoon.
"I would come here with my grandparents. I begged my grandma to go to class with me, to Sunday school," she told KSL TV.
The Murray First Chapel was built in 1907 and the adjacent Carnegie Library was completed nearly a decade later. It later became Mount Vernon Academy in the 1970s.
Marty Lambson’s family owned it from that time onward. He said the buildings were full of memories, but the costs of keeping them were "ridiculous."
"It would have bankrupted us if we would have kept it any longer," he said, after returning to the site to see the buildings one last time.
Stanford filed a lawsuit against the city in 2017. In the lawsuit, she alleged the plan violated a pair of city codes related to demolishing historic buildings. A Utah judge agreed in a decision handed down the following year. Stanford then created the Historic Murray First Foundation in hopes of collecting $1.5 million needed to buy the buildings.
In July 2019, she told KSL.com she preferred for the buildings to be renovated and refitted because it would be cheaper than tearing them down and rebuilding. However, the city voted to withdraw historic protections for all city buildings a few months later. The buildings were sold to another individual and slated to be demolished.
A city spokesperson confirmed the city code change but declined to comment on what they called a private property issue. The new owners of the property did not return calls left by KSL.