Demolition of 5 Provo MTC buildings to make way for more open spaces

PROVO, Utah — The five oldest training buildings at the Provo Missionary Training Center will be razed this summer and replaced with open space for study and contemplation, similar to space added during MTC campus expansion two years ago.

The Provo MTC is one of a dozen such training centers for missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The five buildings to be demolished, identified by both their current number-letter convention as well as bearing the names of past missionary-minded Church leaders, are:

  • 7M, the Heber C. Kimball Building;
  • 8M, the George Q. Cannon Building;
  • 9M, the Samuel H. Smith Building;
  • 10M, the Ben E. Rich Building;
  • and 11M, the Melvin J. Ballard Building.

The first four were primarily classroom buildings, with the Ballard building also housing larger meeting rooms for MTC branch sacrament meetings and other large-group gatherings.

“Hundreds of thousands of missionaries have received their training in these buildings,” said Kelend Mills, Provo MTC administrative director, including himself.

Sisters Hannah Bates and Abigail Oswald talk with their teacher Lexi Hansen in the open spaces between the new T3 and T4 training buildings at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
Sisters Hannah Bates and Abigail Oswald talk with their teacher Lexi Hansen in the open spaces between the new T3 and T4 training buildings at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

Three decades ago, he found himself in a classroom of the Samuel H. Smith Building (9M) as a full-time missionary learning Japanese. “I just had a miraculous transitory experience in that space,” recalled Mills, who returned to the same building after his mission, teaching the language to new missionaries being trained.

He finds himself often pausing and reflecting on his training and teaching experiences there when he walks on campus by the five buildings having stood essentially unused for nearly two years.

Built in the late 1970s, the five buildings have dated electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems as well as limited accesses for missionaries with physical disabilities and an imbalance of restrooms for male elders versus female sisters.

“These buildings are older and have not been in use since the new training buildings were completed in 2017,” said Daniel Woodruff, a Church spokesman. “Demolition is expected to begin in the summer. This decision is a continuation of the master plan for updating and improving the Provo MTC.”

A map of the Provo Missionary Training Center campus. The five oldest training buildings to be demolished in the summer of 2017 are the five unmarked ones located between S1 and T2/S3.
A map of the Provo Missionary Training Center campus. The five oldest training buildings to be demolished in the summer of 2017 are the five unmarked ones located between S1 and T2/S3.

The only training buildings on the Provo MTC campus until the Parley P. Pratt Building (now T2) was added in 1993, the five continued to be used prominently until southern expansion on the campus saw the addition in 2017 of the T3 and T4 classroom buildings with their larger classrooms, full-length windows and open-space feel.

The open spaces to be created on the site of the five buildings will replicate the campus features existing between T3 and T4 — benches, tables, walkways and grassy areas to invite study, conversation and teaching.

Following building demolition this summer, landscaping efforts are expected to begin in the fall and likely continue into the spring.

Mills said no other changes are planned for the area, including the adjacent main entrance to the MTC, although the open space will give a more open feel to the entrance area.

There had been some talk that — following the planned demolition of the five buildings — the available space might be used for a looping driveway for family and friends to drop off arriving missionaries on Wednesdays. However, the underground parking facility beneath the 2017 southern expansion now hosts the drop-off of new missionaries and decreases the impact of inclement weather on outside arrivals.