AKA: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Smith, Joseph. Memorial Building, Salt Lake City, UT

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Parkinson and Bergstrom, Architects (firm); George Edwin Bergstrom (architect); John Parkinson (architect)

Dates: constructed 1909-1911

10 stories

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15 East South Temple Street
Downtown, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

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This was the one of the earliest, Modern business hotels to open in Salt Lake City, UT. Growing American cities of the 1910s and 1920s viewed the construction of capacious, high-rise hotels as marks of civic progress and maturity. Seattle's Olympic Hotel, opened in 1924, was another of these bellwether establishments, viewed with pride by business leaders. The Hotel Utah was designed by the Los Angeles architects John Parkinson and his partner George Edwin Bergstrom, both men experienced in the design of contemporary downtown hotels.

Building History

Architects John Parkinson (1861-1935) and George Edwin Bergstrom (1876-1955) had a fruitful partnership between 1905 and 1915, designing a large number of commercial highrises and large institutional buildings in Los Angeles and throughout the West. Parkinson working alone (1896-1905) and with Bergstrom, designed several large hotels, including the Angelus (1901), Brownstone (1905), Hayward (1905) and Alexandria (1906) Hotels in Los Angeles. WIth a substantial portfolio of highrise hotels to their credit, Parkinson and Bergstrom competed successfully against a variety of other firms for choice commissions.

The Hotel Utah was one of these coveted, costly, and high-profile commissions. The Los Angeles Times described the design then under construction in its issue of 09/19/1909: “On this page is reproduced the architects’ perspective of the magnificent Hotel Utah, which is to be erected in Salt Lake City after plans drawn by Parkinson & Bergstrom of Los Angeles. The building of the structure has been started under the supervision of the designers. The structure will be ten stories in height, will contain 405 guest rooms and will cost in the neighborhood of $1,000,000. The ground floor will contain a splendid lobby with ornate entrances on both South Temple and Main streets. From the lobby will extend a great corridor for a distance of 135 feet to the dining-room, which will be 55x90 feet in size. Three hundred rooms will have private baths. The huge hostelry will be of the most modern steel construction. The outside is to be finished in stone on the lower floors and in terra cotta and brick on the upper stories."

The article continued about the firm's success in the hotel design field: “Parkinson & Bergstrom have designed many notable hotels in the Southwest, among the hostelries built under their direction being the Alexandria and Angelus hotels in this city and the famous Hotel Southland at Dallas, Tex. In securing the contract for the Hotel Utah, the firm was in active competition with many of the leading architects of the country.” (See “A Rich Contract,” Los Angeles Sunday Times, 09/19/1909, p. 24.)

The Hotel Monthlymagazine indicated that the Hotel Utah would open on 06/09/1911: “Hotel Utah, to be opened this month, will be the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. Manager Geo. O. Relf is busy superintending the finishing touches.” (See "New and Remodeled Hotels," The Hotel Monthly, vol. 19, no. 219, 06/1911, p. 58.) Relf remained at the hotel eight years later. Another note in The Hotel Monthly reported: "George Relf, manager of the Hotel Utah, was recently re-elected to the directorate of the Hotel Utah Company at a stockholders' meeting." (See "Personals," The Hotel World, vol 88, no. 22, 05/31/1919.)

The Hotel Utah closed to guests in 08/1987. Six years later, the building was renovated to suit the purposes of the LDS Church and local groups in Salt Lake City.

Building Notes

The plan of the Hotel Utah reflected current requirements of inner-city hotels of the 1900-1930 period. The first two stories contained communal spaces such as lobby, registration desk, restaurants, lounges and meeting rooms. On this base, a U-shaped tower formed around a light court consisted of guest rooms situated along double-loaded corridors. The U-shaped plan enabled each guest room to obtain a maximum amount of sunlight and fresh air from either courtyard or exterior-facing windows.


An annex to the Hotel Utah opened in 1912. The Hotel Monthlystated: “Work on the new addition to Hotel Utah in Salt Lake is progressing rapidly, and the building will be finished and ready for business June 1. The accompanying plans show the layout of the floors. There are three of the Sample Room floors, each room with bath. Note the exceptional size of these rooms, and the splendid light and air, many of them having six and eight windows. The Typical Floor plan shows all rooms with bath, except the 38’s and 41’s [sic], and these rooms have special lavatories.” (See “Hotel Utah’s New Annex,” The Hotel Monthly, vol. 20, no. 229, 04/1912, p. 82.).

Between 2023 and 2025, the Church of LDS's Joseph Smith Building underwent a comprehensive restoration.

PCAD id: 24864