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Origins of BYU — Exhibit recalls early architecture at BYU

PROVO — The origins of Brigham Young University's campus involved three designers, one who had already died, according to the current display in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at the Harold B. Lee Library.

According to the display, Brigham Young appeared in a dream to Karl G. Maeser, first permanent principal of Brigham Young Academy and walked him through an unidentified building. Later, when the academy's Lewis Block Building burned to the ground in 1884, Maeser realized that he had foreseen the building that was to become the new Brigham Young Academy, later part of Brigham Young University on University Avenue in Provo.

He drafted some specifications from his dream and turned them over to architect Joseph Don Carlos Young, who created the final design. That building is now part of the Provo City Library at Academy Square. The exhibition includes the portable drafting tools he used.

In 1907, when the school expanded to what was then known as "Temple Hill," the future university held its only design competition, inviting five architects to compete. The only firm not comprised of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the winner.

The Ware and Treganzo firm designed the Maeser Building, then later was called back to design the other buildings on the early BYU campus.

The first two dormitories were Allen Hall, built in 1938 for men, and Amanda Knight Hall for women, which followed in 1939. Both are in the English Tudor revival style.

The display was one feature at last week's 50th anniversary of the Special Collections Library, which began in 1957 with one curator, 1,000 books and 50 manuscripts. Today there are 14 curators and manuscript processors. Thirty students work with 300,000 rare books, 8,000 manuscripts and more than 1 million photographs.

Curators explained their work at a celebration in the first floor auditorium. Some of the more rare and priceless books were on display following their presentations. The collections are available for students and other researchers, including patrons from outside BYU and from other universities.

The vast collections of art, books and manuscripts on Mormonism and the American West, for example, "make BYU the place to go" for that research. The collection dates to 1857 and includes early diaries and papers of Hyrum Smith. Papers of early LDS Church leader Newell K. Whitney and Christopher "Kit" Carson are included.

Photo curator Tom Wells has been building a digital library on a wide variety of topics since 1993. Images date back to the 1850s. The photos are kept in a 1,000-square-foot cold storage facility.

A film library holds vast numbers of early movies, which are shown at the library every month.

The image collection includes work by early Utah photographers Charles Ellis Johnson, Charles Roscoe Savage and George Edward Anderson.

Other collections include items that document early social and educational life at BYU, a complete run of The Daily Universe, lecture notes and the largest collection of Mormon folklore.

If you go

What: "Designing BYU: Planning, Architecture, Landscape, 1875-2007"

Where: Harold B. Lee Library, BYU, Provo campus

When: Now through May 2008

Cost: Free

Web: news.byu.ed


E-mail: rodger@desnews.com