The illegal teardown of an LDS meetinghouse shows a need for stronger historic protections. | Urban Living

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The illegal teardown of an LDS meetinghouse shows a need for stronger historic protections.

Urban Living

Posted By on May 8, 2024, 4:00 AM

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I believe that if I live in my city, I have to contribute to my city—and the most valuable thing I can give is my time. I volunteered for eight years as a Planning and Zoning commissioner for Salt Lake City and served my time as chair, and now am serving on the Historic Landmarks Commission for the city.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know I love history—especially local history. And in my day job I often list and sell historic homes and properties within the Salt Lake Valley. There's nothing more I love to do than to dig into dusty records to find out who designed and/or built a home. Was it one of our famous Mid-Mod architects? Did Brigham Young and his flock construct the house? Was there a polygamist cave dug into the foundation to hide the wives when polygamy was outlawed in Utah? Was there an infamous politician or artist living in the home in the past?

The Historic Landmark Commission conducts design reviews of new construction or alterations to landmark sites and to properties located in Salt Lake City's local historic districts. Any demolition within an historic district must be approved by this Commission. The Commission is also charged with monitoring the preservation of historically significant resources within the boundaries of the city and reviewing proposed regulations affecting historic preservation. The Commission also reviews and makes recommendations on proposals to designate additional historic properties.

Salt Lake City has 14 local historic districts. All of Salt Lake City's historic districts are listed in the National Register, but not all National Register districts are locally designated.

I bring this up because a local developer recently began tearing down a historic building and former LDS meeting house on a bright Sunday morning, without demo permits from our city. The 114-year-old building at 740 W. 300 South in the Granary District was previously owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and more recently was a Buddhist temple.

Supposedly, the owner received permission from the state to tear down the building—but not from the city. He didn't get a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Landmark Commission for demolition or a building permit from the city.

Neighbors alerted city officials on Easter Sunday that the demolition was under way and, luckily, some city officials were driving by the operation. Hours later, the city issued a stop work order. Now the developer must restore the building and is currently being fined $200 a day.

If you travel by the property, you can see the front has been torn off. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The city will suss out the consequences of the illegal demolition and who knows what will happen to the building in the future. With all the demolition going on in our city, it's important that we protect our historic treasures for future generations.

About The Author

Babs De Lay

Babs De Lay

A full-time broker/owner of Urban Utah Homes and Estates, Babs De Lay serves on the Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission. A writer and golfer, you'll find them working as a staff guardian at the Temple at Burning Man each year.

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