BYU-H converts foyer into visitors center

On Dec. 17, 1958, President David O. McKay, then president of the Church, addressed a crowd of approximately 3,000 people who had come to witness the dedication of the newly finished campus of the Church College of Hawaii.

On Dec. 15, 1995, nearly 37 years to the date later, a similar crowd gathered in front of the refurbished David O. McKay Foyer – the signature building of what is now Brigham Young University-Hawaii – to see the foyer rededicated as a visitor and information center for the university.Located at the entrance to the campus, the McKay Foyer features a 33-by-16-foot mosaic depicting Elder McKay participating in a flag-raising ceremony on Feb. 7, 1921, with children at Laie Elementary School.

The 2,535 square-foot foyer is lined with elegant designed koa wood display cases that accommodate a wide range of historical artifacts, photographs and original documents recounting much of the history and events since the Church, and later the University, were established in Laie.

In his dedicatory remarks, Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Presidency of the Seventy commented, "David O. McKay came here, was touched by the spirit and caught the vision. I would like to think that President McKay might be looking on and he may be even whispering to someone at his side, `I told you so.' "

Visitors coming to the McKay Foyer will be greeted by missionaries that will answer questions and conduct guided tours. Through photographs, printed words and physical exhibits, visitors can see the progression of the university through the work of labor missionaries, the addition of new buildings and programs, as well as rare artifacts donated by members of the community.

"The David O. McKay Foyer is a place where guests, friends and the university family can come and encounter feelingly our roots as a university," said Eric B. Shumway, BYU-Hawaii president. "It is to be a place of learning, a place of remembering and a place of reflection."

The McKay foyer, which has served a variety of purposes over the past four decades, was built by labor missionaries and was part of the original campus, which was constructed from 1955 through 1958.

BYU-Hawaii plans to change the displays periodically to take advantage of its impressive collection of exhibits and artifacts contained in the university's archives.

The rededication of the David O. McKay foyer was part of the activities commemorating the 40th anniversary of the opening of the university on Sept. 26, 1955. Funds for the renovation projects were donated anonymously.