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Hallowed Ground Sacred Journeys

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"A Brighter Day" - Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial
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Social Hall Site and Museum


The Social Hall was a gathering place for early pioneer entertainment.
Utah State Historical Society


When the footings and basement walls of the Social Hall were uncovered, 
a protective steel and-glass structure was built over them on the east side of State Street, 
just south of South Temple. By going down several steps, 
visitors can see the original basement stones and displays that explain the importance of Social Hall.
David M. Whitchurch

For seventy years, pioneers gathered here to shake off the hardships of frontier life with music, dancing, parties, theatricals (President Brigham Young had starred as the high priest in the production of Pizarro back in Nauvoo and was a patron of the arts), lectures, and good company. The Social Hall was dedicated New Year’s Day 1853, only five and a half years after the Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake City. Special legislative sessions were sometimes held in it as well. It had the capacity to seat three hundred fifty people, though four hundred people often crowded into it.

Eventually, the surrounding area evolved into a thriving business center, and in 1922 the Social Hall was razed. In June 1933 the MIA and the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association erected a marker on the sidewalk explaining the important contributions the Social Hall made to early cultural life in Salt Lake City:


The Mutual Improvement Association and the Utah Pioneer Trails 
and Landmarks Association created a marker to celebrate the old Social Hall.
David M. Whitchurch

This monument marks the site of the social hall, the first recreation center in the intermountain west. Built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints under the direction of Brigham Young. Made of plastered adobe walls with native wood floors and roof. Auditorium 40 by 60 feet, seating 350 persons— stage 20 by 40 feet—dressing rooms and banquet hall in basement. Dedicated January 1, 1853.

Seating for 350 people was provided in the main hall.
Utah State Historical Society

Here the Deseret Dramatic Association conducted many home talent theatricals, musicales and other festivities. Sessions of the legislature, official meetings, receptions, banquets and other social functions were held here. The Mutual Improvement Associations used it as theatre, library and gymnasium. In 1922 the building was razed.



Emmeline B. Wells recalled Christmas at the Social Hall. 
She was a powerful proponent for women’s suffrage 
and became the fifth general Relief Society president in 1910 at age eighty-two.
Daughters of Utah Pioneers

Christmas Party

Emmeline B. Wells described the first Christmas party at Social Hall:

When the Social Hall was built [in 1852], Christmas was sometimes celebrated there with dancing parties. . . . [President Young] was foremost in making the affair a grand success. . . . Hon. John W. Young, then only a boy, handed the presents down from the tree, and I recollect Brother Brigham standing and pointing with his cane, and telling John just which to take down, and so on; the children werewild with delight and some of the mothers were quite as much elated, though not as demonstrative. After the Santa Claus tree was stripped of its gifts, the floor was cleared and the dancing commenced, and there was good music, too, and President Young led the dance, and cut a pigeon wing, to the great delight of the little folks. In fact, I think the evening was almost entirely given up to the children’s festivities, and the older ones, the fathers and mothers and more especially President Young, made them supremely happy for that one Christmas eve.




The Mutual Improvement Association and the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association 
created a marker to celebrate the old Social Hall.
David M. Whitchurch


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Brigham Young University Religious Education presents
Hallowed Ground Sacred Journeys
Featuring BYU Religious Educators teaching about sites significant in
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
For more information, or to visit our interactive web site with dozens of additional sites to explore,
please visit VirtualTours.BYU.edu
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Hallowed Ground Sacred Journeys
is a co-production of
This blog is a public service of The Watchmen Institute
and is distributed by B.U.M.P. LTD.
All Rights Reserved
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"I have been sharing this information with friends around the world and the response is outstanding. These tours contain information that we could never access on our own and can be shared and treasured forever."
Frank M. McCord
National Chair
BYU Friends of Religious Ed.
Everett, Washington


Brigham Young University Religious Education presents

Hallowed Ground

Sacred Journeys

featuring BYU Religious Educators teaching about sites significant to
The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints.

"A great source for weekly Mormon Church History Videos"
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