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Three Salt Lake City Landmarks That Illuminate Mormon History

BY: Mae Rice | Jul 10, 2015
Three Salt Lake City Landmarks That Illuminate Mormon History

In Salt Lake City, things to do abound, but there’s one activity that’s found hardly anywhere else: visiting Mormon heritage sites. 

When Brigham Young and his followers stumbled upon Salt Lake City in 1847, it wasn’t a city yet. It was an arid, desolate valley, and it was exactly what Young was looking for. He and his followers were Mormons, and they had been persecuted for their faith back east. They decided to leave and build a city of their own on inhospitable land so that no one would fight them for it. They had been traveling for more than a year when they reached what they called Salt Lake Valley. It felt right. 

Since then, the land has become Utah’s capital and a thriving modern metropolis. If you’re visiting the city or just looking for something new to do, below are three places where you can connect with history in different ways.

Site #1: Beehive House

67 S. Temple 

Built in 1854, this museum was Brigham Young’s home when he was head of the Mormon Church and governor of the Utah Territory. 

Originally built for Young and his family, this house gives visitors a unique chance to meet Mormonism’s second leader. Or at least to check out his furniture. The home-turned-museum is still decorated in period style, complete with intricately carved banisters and many of the furnishings Young really lived with. This site might be considered a hidden gem, too. The only part of its exterior that suggests something unusual within? The beehive sculpture on its roof.

Site #2: Salt Lake Temple

50 N. Temple 

There are no public tours of the inside of this temple—the largest LDS temple of all, by floor area—but everyone can enjoy its grounds and architecture. 

This imposing granite temple, with its six soaring spires, was inspired by Europe’s Renaissance-era cathedrals. Anyone who visits can sense it, especially if they keep their eyes peeled for epic extras. Not only is there a giant fountain on the grounds, there’s also a golden figure atop the temple’s tallest spire: a 14-foot-tall statue of the angel Moroni, held in place by a 14,000-pound counterweight.

Site #3: This Is the Place Heritage Park

2601 E. Sunnyside Ave. 

This park is built on the spot where Young said “This is the place!” and decided to settle down. Keep an eye out for its living-history village. 

A statue in this park commemorates Young’s decision, but the main attraction here is Deseret Village. It’s a living-history museum where visitors can experience life in a 19th-century Mormon settlement—and take selfies as they go. In the petting zoo, visitors can mingle with the barnyard animals farmers once worked with daily; another building from 1884 houses a pioneer hospital on the first floor. (Its second floor, unexpectedly, is a quilt museum!)