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Nostalgic farewell to building of rich history

LDS Business College alumni meet to pay regards to historic mansion

Years before he was appointed president of LDS Business College, Stephen Woodhouse walked through the massive, iron-worked doors at the school's stately entrance to apply for a faculty position.

It was the first time he'd stepped foot in the regal Wall Mansion that has housed the 119-year-old college for decades. Immediately, Brother Woodhouse was taken by the building's warmth and charm. The structure was just large enough to meet the educational needs of the students — but cozy enough to offer an intimate, familiar atmosphere rarely seen on a college campus.

"I knew this is where I wanted to be," he said.

Indeed, the 91-year-old mansion has served as an academic, social and spiritual home for thousands of LDS Business College students, faculty members and staff workers for 43 years.

Located in downtown Salt Lake City at 411 E. South Temple, the mansion is just a brisk walk from Temple Square. It's been "a fantastic location for the college," said President Woodhouse.

Rich history aside, the Wall Mansion is a bit tight on space to best meet the school's charter to provide students with skills-based learning in an LDS setting. Last year, the Church announced plans to move LDS Business College from Wall Mansion to the Triad Center, a mixed-use office and retail complex located between North Temple and South Temple, west of Temple Square.

While excited about the opportunities the school's future locale will offer, President Woodhouse expects a nostalgic twinge when he walks away from the Wall Mansion for the final time. To celebrate its history, hundreds of LDS Business College alumni gathered on campus Nov. 18 to bid farewell to the mansion.

The celebration featured dancing in the upstairs ballroom, entertainment and several historical displays.

"This college means so much to me," said Amram Musungu, an LDS Business College graduate from Kenya who learned the basics of finance and computer science in the Wall Mansion's many classrooms.

The Wall Mansion was completed in 1914, a decade after copper magnate "Colonel" Enos A. Wall purchased the property lot from James Sharp, a Church convert from Scotland. The stately renaissance villa was immediately recognized as a local architectural jewel — boasting an Otis electric elevator, a built-in vacuum system, steam heating, fireplaces in all six bedrooms and a ballroom on the mansion's third floor.

Colonel Wall and his family would call the mansion home for only a few years. The colonel died in 1920. From 1926 to 1950, the Wall Mansion served as the Salt Lake Jewish Center. A west wing was added in 1950 to accommodate its new tenant, Pacific National Life Assurance Company.

Then in 1961 the Church purchased the Wall Mansion, moving LDS Business College from its long-time home at 70 North Main Street (the lot is now occupied by the Church Office Building). While preserving the mansion's beloved exterior, extensive renovations have been undertaken over the years to accommodate classrooms, a library, a computer library and a student bookstore. Dormitories were also built.

President Woodhouse said it is not known how the mansion will be used when the college moves to its new home next summer. Maintaining the intimacy and fellowship long found at Wall Mansion will be a top priority as students study in more spacious settings, he added.

"The biggest advantage to the students will be one of access," President Woodhouse said. The Triad Center is located close to major transportation systems and businesses that will allow the students easy access to internships and other career opportunities.

The college's mission will not be impacted by the move. The charm of the Wall Mansion may prove irreplaceable. Still, the future is bright for LDS Business College, said President Woodhouse.

"We will miss the mansion, but we know we will be moving to a new level."


Source: The History of LDS Business College and it's Parent Institutions by Lynn M. Hilton


E-mail to: jswensen@desnews.com