With a string quartet adding an air of elegance to the occasion, scores of people witnessed the dedication and ribbon cutting Oct. 26 for the newly renovated Inn at Temple Square – formerly the Temple Square Hotel – in downtown Salt Lake City.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, offered brief remarks, and President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, gave the dedicatory prayer for the Church-owned facility. President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve cut the ribbon, officially opening the hotel. The program was conducted by Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales.Originally built in 1930, the hotel is located at 71 W. South Temple, just across the street from Temple Square. It has seven stories with 90 rooms, including five bridal or executive suites and five parlor suites with connecting bedrooms. The upper rooms on the north provide a stirring view of the Salt Lake Temple, Tabernacle and Assembly Hall, and the rooms on the west overlook the Salt Palace and Symphony Hall.
It is a "smoke-free hostel"; smoking is prohibited both in the hotel and in its Carriage House Restaurant.
In his remarks, President Hinckley noted, "Many have wondered and still wonder why the owners closed the Hotel Utah and concurrently rebuilt and renamed the Temple Square Hotel."
He explained that Church officers were faced a few years ago with a serious decision concerning both hotels, as the physical plants of both were run down.
While Hotel Utah was regarded as one of the distinctive hotels of the nation, high-class lodging had become abundant in Salt Lake City, he explained. At the same time, the Church was faced with a serious need for more space, both for family history research and administrative facilities.
"It became increasingly obvious," he said, "that the best use of the beautiful structure at the corner of Main and South Temple would be to meet the great needs of the Church."
He expressed confidence that there will be appreciation throughout Utah for the work that has been done in renovation of the Hotel Utah structure.
That left the decision of what to do with the Temple Square Hotel.
"The Church has consistently, over many years, acted to safeguard the environment around Temple Square," President Hinckley said. "We did not wish to dispose of this site for commercial development. We recognized that perhaps 20 or 30 years from now, our successors might wish to use it for some purpose other than that for which it is presently used."
Studies confirmed the wisdom of converting the hotel into "a small, quiet and homey inn of the sort one finds in Europe and England," he said. "We are grateful for what has been done."
He pointed out that the hotel was built during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
"Notwithstanding the bleak economic outlook, the officers of the Church proceeded with construction of the Temple Square Hotel. Their faith in the future was justified. It has served its purpose well."
The current economy is at a "distressingly low ebb," he said. "In the same spirit we have launched this new enterprise."
Referring to the fact that smoking will not be allowed, President Hinckley observed that many large hotels have smoke-free floors, and that smoking has been banned on commercial flights and in many public facilities. "We think it [the smoke-free environmentT will be welcomed here."
He cited D&C 124:60, which refers to the Nauvoo House constructed by Joseph Smith in fulfillment of a commandment from God. He applied the verse to the Inn at Temple Square: ". . . Let it be a delightful habitation for man and a resting-place for the weary traveler, that he may contemplate the glory of Zion. . . ."