This story was updated on 13 June 2011
Since 1911, people from all walks of life have made memories at a grand building in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. On 9 June 2011, a large crowd gathered to mark 100 years of memories at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, formerly known as the Hotel Utah.
The building is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Church President Thomas S. Monson helped kick off the centennial celebration by cutting the ribbon on a new display about the building. In his remarks, he recalled how some people wanted to tear down the building, but sentiment won the day.
“Those who wanted it preserved were driven by the power of memory,” he said.
The Hotel Utah opened on 9 June 1911 and served as a gathering place for national and international visitors alike for the next 76 years. Closed in 1987, it reopened in 1993 as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building after extensive redesign and renovation. Currently, the building welcomes the public to its three restaurants and multiple banquet rooms, hosting a variety of weddings, dinners and other special occasions. The building also contains a FamilySearch Center and office space for Church employees. The building is part of the Church headquarters campus, just east of Temple Square.
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The Mormon Tabernacle Choir provided the music for the centennial celebration, singing “Happy Birthday” to the building and “It’s a Grand Night for Singing.” The choir also sang the Mormon hymn “Praise to the Man,” which was written in honor of the building’s namesake, Joseph Smith, the first president of the Church.
The anniversary celebration continued on Friday, 10 June 2011, with a gala that included a 1911-era dinner for invited guests, many of whom came in period costume. The program for the evening was modeled after the first dinner ever held in the Hotel Utah and featured Church President Thomas S. Monson, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and local businessman Scott Anderson.
The special exhibit in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building includes a 1912 Cadillac, photographs, dishes, period clothing and other memorabilia. It will be on display until the beginning of October.