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The history of the LDS Church Administration Building

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SALT LAKE CITY — Although often overshadowed by the much taller LDS Church Office Building, the stately, Grecian-looking LDS Church Administration building, 47 E. South Temple, has a fascinating history of its own.

The building, now just more than 93 years old, was opened on Oct. 2, 1917, during the administration of President Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Previously, the "President's Office," built in 1852 by Truman O. Angell, LDS Church architect, and located between the Beehive and Lion houses on South Temple, served church leaders.

Like the Salt Lake Temple, the Administration Building is composed of granite, taken from the same area in Little Cottonwood Canyon, but with a key difference. While all the stone for the Salt Lake Temple was taken from loose granite boulders in the canyon, stone extracted from the canyon walls is what was used for the Church Administration Building.

This building, sometimes abbreviated as "CAB," measures 101 feet and 11 inches wide on the front and 165 feet by 3 inches in depth.

It was built on land originally owned by Brigham Young, is some 80 feet high and required three years to build (1914-1917).

Located between the Lion House and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the style of the Church Administration Building is Grecian Ionic. It features 24 Iconic stone columns around its rectangular shape. A massive entablature, with numerous carvings, rests on the columns. The building is composed of a total of 4,517 granite stones — the largest of which is in the southwest corner and weighs 8 tons. The entire stone work collectively weighs more than 6,200 tons.

A prominent U.S. flag regularly flies atop the front of the building.

Inside, Utah marble and onyx, plus rare wood from the U.S., Honduras and southeastern Russia add special beauty.

Originally it housed the offices for the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, the First Council of the Seventy, the Patriarch to the Church, the church secretary, the trustee-in-trust offices and clerks, the Historian's Office and library, the Genealogical Society, the General Church Board of Education, the Deseret Sunday School Union, the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association, the church commissioner of education, and the church architect.

Until the Church Office Building opened in 1972, it also housed the missionary department on its fourth floor.

Today the five-story Church Administration Building, plus a basement, houses offices of many general authorities of the church.

While this historic building used to offer public access and even received tourists, today it does not and has restricted access. Its first floor reception hall is often where the viewings for late church presidents have been held, most recently with President Howard W. Hunter in 1995 (President Gordon B. Hinckley's viewing in 2008 was moved to much larger the Conference Center).

On Feb. 8, 1978, the Administration Building was rededicated after substantial remodeling. Then, a seismic upgrade on the building was performed in the summer of 2008. Jacobsen Construction orchestrated a month of double shifts, six days a week to complete the seismic work in a single month, to accommodate church leaders' schedules.


The first two LDS Church administration buildings in Salt Lake:

— The First Office Building for church leaders was built in 1848 by Daniel H. Wells, superintendent of public works. It measured 18 feet by 12 feet and had a slanting roof covered with boards and dirt. Its exact location is unknown, but it was church headquarters for two years.

— The "White house" or "Mansion House" came next. It was constructed between 1848 and 1850 and was the home of President Brigham Young, on East South Temple Street, where the Elks Club building now stands,

SOURCES: LDS.org; Improvement Era, Nov. 1967; Ensign Magazine, Oct. 1975; and www.jacobsenconstruction.com.