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Church plans to close 3 historic buildings near Temple Square in 2023 for renovations

A photo of the exterior of the Beehive House in Salt Lake City taken in 2021. The building is one of three set for renovations in 2023.

A photo of the exterior of the Beehive House in Salt Lake City taken in 2021. The building is one of three set for renovations in 2023. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Three prominent historic buildings along South Temple will undergo renovations next year, which will result in closures expected to last into 2025, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday.

The church plans to begin renovation work on the Beehive House, the Lion House and Joseph Smith Memorial Building next year. The Lion House has been closed since 2020, while the Beehive House will close on April 8, 2023. Crews will work to fix "structural deficiencies," as well as preserve aging finishes, replace outdated mechanical systems and update "the guest experience," officials said in a statement.

Crews will also begin work to upgrade electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in early 2023, which will close off the building, its restaurants and event spaces. All three buildings are scheduled to reopen in 2025, according to the church.

All three buildings are included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Beehive House, built in 1854, is the oldest of the three. It was the official residence of Brigham Young, Lorenzo Snow and Joseph F. Smith, three of the church's first six presidents in its history. After Smith's death in 1918, the church's Young Women organization turned it into a boarding home for young women in Salt Lake City either for work or school.

An undated photo of the office and bedroom of President Joseph F. Smith in the historic Beehive House on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
An undated photo of the office and bedroom of President Joseph F. Smith in the historic Beehive House on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. (Photo: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

It remained a residence up until the 1950s, according to church historians. After a restoration project, the church then reopened it as a museum in 1961 following a major restoration project. It remains a museum that reflects on its era from 1854-1918.

The Lion House, constructed two years after the Beehive House, served as the family home for Young, who was also Utah's first governor. Its parlor is also where church leaders met to create its Young Women organization in 1870, church historians note.

Much like the Beehive House, it eventually became something other than a home. It became a classroom before it was turned into an event venue in the 1960s, which it will remain when reopened. It's also home to the popular Lion House Pantry, which has been closed since the start of COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns in March 2020.

An undated photo of the exterior of the Lion House in Salt Lake City. The house's name comes from the lion statue pictured here, which was sculpted by William Ward.
An undated photo of the exterior of the Lion House in Salt Lake City. The house's name comes from the lion statue pictured here, which was sculpted by William Ward. (Photo: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Both of the homes were designed by Truman Angell, an architect who also designed the Salt Lake Temple, as well as some of Utah's other early Latter-day Saint temples and the Utah Territorial Statehouse in Fillmore during his lifetime.

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is the largest of the three. It was completed in 1911 originally as Hotel Utah, and remained a hotel until 1987. The church then turned the building into an office and meeting space in 1993. It's also home to the Garden Restaurant and the Roof Restaurant, which like the Lion House Pantry, are have been temporarily closed for more than two years.

The renovations announced Tuesday come as work continues on renovating the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square, a project that began in late 2019. The massive project is also expected to be completed in 2025.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsHistoricReligionSalt Lake CountyUtah
Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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