Statue of Brigham Young being moved after 96 years

The statue of Brigham Young that has watched over Salt Lake City from the intersection of South Temple and Main Street for nearly 100 years was removed from its granite pedestal Oct. 25 in preparation for a move 82 feet to the north.

The bronze likeness of the second president of the Church and the man who led the Mormon exodus to the Salt Lake Valley will be stored until the middle of November when it will be returned to its lofty perch at its new location on Main Street.The statue is 10 feet high on a 25-foot high base. The monument is being moved to improve traffic flow through the intersection after many years of debate. It is also being moved to a location where it will be more accessible to those who want to take an up-close look and read some of the inscriptions on the monument.

Statues of a mountain man and an Indian, representing groups that preceded the Mormons into the valley, were also removed from the base of the monument, as was a bas-relief of a pioneer family which was attached to the south side of the monument. Also removed were two other plaques that list the names of pioneers and a brief history of Brigham Young and the Mormons' westward trek. All of the bronze pieces will be cleaned while temporarily in storage.

The statue of Brigham Young was created by noted Utah sculptor Cyrus E. Dallin. It was first displayed from May until October of 1893 on a temporary base in front of the Utah Building at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

It was then moved to another temporary pedestal inside the walls of Temple Square, on the southeast corner.

The statue was moved onto its permanent base in the intersection of South Temple and Main Street in 1897, and was unveiled and dedicated by Church President Wilford Woodruff on July 20 of that year during the golden jubilee celebration of the Saints' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1900, it was again unveiled after the addition of the Indian and mountain man statues.

There it has remained through the years, although there have been modifications made. The base was expanded and then trimmed, and the entire monument was once enclosed inside an iron fence.

Various proposals to move the monument have been presented over the years. In 1978, it was proposed that the monument be moved up Main Street to a plaza directly in front of the Salt Lake Temple.

The biggest reason the location of the monument has been debated so much in recent years is its effect on traffic. At one time it was suggested the monument should be used to restrict the flow of through traffic in downtown Salt Lake City and the base was expanded.

In its new location, the monument will be tied in with the new crosswalk between Temple Square and the refurbished Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The monument will be surrounded by granite pavers and benches for the convenience of visitors, said general contractor Rod Lawrence of Beck Street Construction.

Workers spent part of two days removing the bronze items from the monument base.

Once the statue was strapped up, a crane lifted it off the monument and onto a truck.

The granite portion of the monument is being taken apart piece by piece and rebuilt on a foundation at its new location. Lawrence said work affecting the roadway will be completed by Nov. 15, but the finishing touches on and around the monument may take longer.