Meant to be a “gathering place for people and ideas, and a source of enlightenment for the citizens of Utah and the world,” a recently restored and iconic mansion in downtown Salt Lake City will now house an “embassy” for the University of Utah.
Church leaders, along with community members, University of Utah leaders and media representatives gathered on the lawn outside the mansion on Aug. 24 for the dedication and naming of the renovated building — the Thomas S. Monson Center.
“We are pleased to know that the Thomas S. Monson Center will play host to thousands of guests from all segments of the community and throughout the nation, and the world,” said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency.
President Monson and both of his counselors in the First Presidency, President Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, attended the official dedication.
Although the Enos A. Wall Mansion has been an important part of the downtown area since the late 1800s, the renovated building — and purpose — has been updated to serve the community for years to come. Nestled between the University of Utah campus, Salt Lake’s downtown businesses and the headquarters of the Church, the newly renovated building — which used to house the LDS Business College — will house the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. The 25,000-square-foot building will also be a place to host dignitaries, symposiums, wedding receptions and other community events.
“We view this as the university’s embassy to the state of Utah,” said Jason Perry, University of Utah’s vice president for community relations and director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.
Speaking on behalf of the First Presidency, President Eyring shared a brief history of the building’s owners and purposes.
“In addition to its iconic architecture, the Wall Mansion is the ideal setting for the community building events and innovative, dynamic policy ideas that will be generated here,” President Eyring said. “The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pleased to support the efforts of the University of Utah and, in the process, help preserve one of Salt Lake City’s historic buildings.”
Built in 1881, the building’s original owner, James Sharp, was the former University of Utah chancellor and Salt Lake City mayor. In 1904, Enos Wall — one of Utah’s most influential entrepreneurs of the late 19th and early 20th century, mining magnate and original developer of the Bingham/Kennecott Copper Mine — purchased the home and contracted architect Richard K. A. Kletting, who was the architect on the Utah State Capitol and Deseret University (which later became the University of Utah), to make changes to the home.
In 1962 the Wall Mansion became home to LDS Business College, where it served students until it moved to the Triad Center in 2006.
“It is fitting, then, that this place, which already has played a role in essential developments of Utah history and helped shape so many lives for the better, is now poised to contribute to the development of truly extraordinary people and ideas,” President Eyring said. “The First Presidency has every confidence that the University of Utah will utilize this special place for its highest and best purpose on behalf of its students and faculty and the people of Utah, the nation, and the world.”
The building’s name, Thomas S. Monson Center, is an “appropriate” fit, President Eyring said. “The connections shared by the University of Utah and President Monson are many, and they run deep. The U is President Monson’s alma mater, the first college he chose to attend, and throughout his life it has held a place of honor in his heart.”
President Monson graduated cum laude in 1948 with a degree in business management and later did graduate work and spent time as a faculty member for the College of Business.
“In 2007, the University of Utah recognized President Monson’s services to humanity by bestowing upon him the honorary Doctor of Business degree,” President Eyring said. “It is fitting that the Thomas S. Monson Center will serve as an embassy to the community and to the world. Just as President Monson has reached out to people from every background and walk of life, this Center will draw individuals and organizations from the local and global community to engage their minds and hearts in creating ideas and programs that change lives, communities and nations for the better.”
Other speakers included University of Utah President David W. Pershing, Gail Miller and Kem C. Gardner. The University of Utah Chamber Choir performed “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” during the event, and President Eyring joined President Pershing for the official unveiling of the name.
President Pershing said it is a great honor to name the building after President Thomas S. Monson, for his “lifetime of service efforts to improve the human condition,” adding that he hopes the building will be a great resource to the community.
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