By Deborah Carl
Restored BY Academy Building Dedicated as Provo Library
PROVO, UTAH -- It was a sad sight. The 108-year-old Brigham Young
Academy Building sagged in disrepair after being sold by Brigham
Young University in 1975. There were attempts to use the historic
building, but it was finally slated for the wrecking ball. That's
when Academy supporters enlisted BYU engineering professor Douglas
Smoot to help save the building.
"My first reaction was why would anyone in his right mind accept such
a seemingly impossible challenge . . . But I could not dispel a sense
of obligation to my great-grandfather," said Smoot, great-grandson of
Abraham O. Smoot, the man challenged by Brigham Young to back the
fledgling academy that later became BYU. Provo voters passed a $16.9
million library bond in 1997 to move the library to Academy Square.
A.O. Smoot used his personal fortune to fund most of the construction
of the building, now his great-grandson and the Academy supporters
raised $6.9 million which was used to restore the exterior and
donated $1 million to the city of Provo to maintain the new library.
While the exterior remains true to the original architecture, the
interior is a state-of-the-art library which more than 100 computers,
conference rooms, underground and above-ground parking, and many more
modern amenities. "This building and the sense of history . . . has
absolutely taken my breath away. I was unprepared for how beautiful
this building is," said LDS Church Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, who
recalled attending church in the historic building on crisp fall
mornings as a student at Brigham Young University in the mid-1960s.
New Provo Library Remains True to Its Historic Roots
Salt Lake Tribune 9Sep01 D6
By Mark Eddington: Salt Lake Tribune