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South Salt Lake Journal

Central Park Chapel is a SSL architectural treasure

Feb 23, 2022 07:28PM ● By Bill Hardesty

The oldest part of the building is in the background. One of original chapel entry doors, now bricked up, is on the right. (Courtesy of the South Salt Lake City Stake)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Even though South Salt Lake City is “a City on the Move,” it is also a city of iconic buildings. The Historic Scott School (300 South and 500 East) was built in 1890. In 1899, the Catholic Church built Saint Ann’s Orphanage (now known as Kearns-Saint Ann School) and church between 400 and 500 East on the south side of 2100 South. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began constructing the Central Park Chapel (2700 South and 300 East) in 1925.

The first phase was completed on April 18, 1926, when the first Sunday School met. Currently, the building is referred to as the East Building and is used by the Central Park Ward, the Wandamere Ward and the Crossroads Square Branch (Nepali).

The building

On Aug. 16, 1925, the Central Park Ward was created from parts of the Burton and Miller Wards. The ward took its name from the local subdivision named 30 years earlier. At first, the new ward met in the Burton ward building and later at the Madison School. But the new ward decided they wanted their own building.

William C. Winder was selected to head the first finance committee on September 22, 1925. In those days, ward buildings were financed and built by local congregations. The building cost about $60,000. Miles E. Miller was appointed to render plans for the proposed building.

Joseph A. Vaughn supervised the construction, which started on Sept. 24, 1925, only five weeks after the ward was organized. The building progressed quickly. The first ward conference was held in the north section of the building on Sept. 25, 1926.

The building was designed in the “Prairie School” style. This style originated in the late 19th century with Chicago-based architects and was popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright.

According to, “Their most defining characteristic is their emphasis on the horizontal rather than the vertical. They spread out over their lots, featuring flat or shallow hipped rooflines, rows of windows, overhanging eaves and bands of stone, wood or brick across the surface.”

“University of Utah architect students come by once a year or so to look at the unique style,” Bishop Herbert Goldhardt, Central Park Ward, said.

The Cardston Alberta Temple also influenced the overall design with bold columns and carved entryways. The Cardston Alberta Temple was built between 1913 and 1923.

In 1938, work began on an Amusement Hall, which is now called a Cultural Hall. The hall was completed by December 7, 1941. The original Amusement Hall had chairs that could be used for worship services or put away for games.

On March 20, 1949, the ward split into the Central Park Ward and the North Central Park Ward. On April 22, 1955, the two wards broke ground for a new Amusement Hall, which is at right angle to the original hall/chapel. The initial Amusement Hall was remodeled into a permanent chapel with this remodel. The pulpit was on the east side, and people entered through doors to the west. The doors are now bricked in.

“During one of the remodels, they discovered that the foundation in the chapel, which was the original Amusement Hall, went from 16 feet down to four feet,” Goldhardt said. “We are thinking they ran out of money for more concrete.”

 In a later remodel, the chapel was switched with the pulpit moving to the west. In addition, a “cry room” was built on the second floor overlooking the chapel. The idea behind the cry room was so that parents could take fussy babies out of the chapel but still participate in the service. However, teenagers used it for another purpose.

“It had curtains that we could pull. Since the sound was piped in, we could say we were listening, but we could talk freely,” Goldhardt, who grew up in the neighborhood, said.

The cry room is now walled up. The chapel also had a stained glass window to the west. The stained glass was removed and the area is now bricked up.

Another Goldhardt memory is the young deacons passing put fans in the summer with the Granite Furniture logo on them.

One of the exciting designs were full-length windows in the new Amusement Hall.

“We used to unlock the bottom window and sneak in to play basketball,” Goldhardt said.

For the most part, the brickwork on the north and middle sections are original.

One other exciting part of the property is a tree planted in 1942 to commemorate the creation of the Relief Society organization that still stands.

The property

The building stands on part of the old John R. Winder farm. His farm was known as Poplar Farm, where he raised stock, farmed, and had an orchard of mulberry trees used for silk production. Winder moved to Salt Lake City in 1907 and moved the dairy business to the west. In 1916, the farmhouse and barns were dismantled.

On Aug. 30, 1925, the land was purchased for the new building. The building will be over 100 years old in a little over four years.