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For week ended December 05, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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LDS ward is reborn, stunning

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

LDS ward is reborn, stunning
Deseret News 3Dec99 B1
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Salt Lake City 10th Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened its doors this weekend to celebrate the reopening the their historic downtown building. Originally organized on February 22, 1849 by then LDS church President Brigham Young, it is one of the 19 original LDS wards.

In an 1874 Deseret News article is was dubbed "one of the handsomest and best ward meetinghouses in the city." It was originally financed and built solely by ward members who provided materials, architectural work and labor. "In consideration of their pecuniary circumstances, (the ward members are) worthy of all the praise they can desire for the public improvement," declared an historic Salt Lake Stake record of December 31, 1872.

Today the complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Local church leaders say the results of the renovation are "stunning." Bishop Grant Stensrud said the chapel includes a 50-seat balcony, an antique organ and a stained-glass window depicting Christ knocking on a door. An 1887 schoolhouse, that was purchased in 1926, is now serving as a Sunday School building and cultural hall.

Some parts of the interior were modified with minor updates, though much of the complex was gutted and rebuilt. With the help of old photos, the cultural hall was restored to its original state. It includes "chandeliers and beautiful woodwork. They won't be playing any basketball or sports in there," said David Thomas, first counselor in the Salt Lake Park Stake.

As a boy, President Hinckley lived in the area and remembered having his first significant spiritual witness in that building. "It was President Hinckley's decision to remodel it rather than tear it down. We just approached the church that something needed to be done. To be honest, I wasn't sure whether it would be worth the (additional) cost to renovate it, but I've been through it, and it's beautiful," Thomas said. "I think it's a real tribute to the church and to the workmen, who took great pride in restoring it."

No date for dedication services has been announced.

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