The Beehive House, the Lion House and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building — three historic buildings in downtown Salt Lake City not only important for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but for the city and the state of Utah — will be the focus of restorations efforts and closures slated to begin in 2023.
The closures were announced Tuesday, Nov. 29, on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Located just east of the Church Administration Building on South Temple Street, the Beehive House and Lion House will be closed for projects to address structural deficiencies, preservation of aging finishes, replacement of outdated mechanical systems and updating the guest experience.
The Lion House has been closed since 2020, and the Beehive House will close April 8, 2023.
And to the west of the Church Administration Building, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building will see closures to its restaurants and event spaces early next year for renovation work.
All three — the Lion House, Beehive House and Joseph Smith Memorial Building — are expected to reopen to the public in 2025.
The iconic Salt Lake Temple and much of Temple Square proper are all under renovation, also expected to be completed by and reopened in 2025.
Besides the ongoing, multiyear temple improvements, the previous visitors’ centers have been torn down, with the area where the North Visitors’ Center stood being turned into a reflective garden and the South Visitors’ Center location becoming the site of new above- and below-ground facilities where new guest experiences will be housed.
The neighboring Main Street Plaza and Church Office Building Plaza are also being renovated.
The Beehive House
Built in 1854, the Beehive House served as Brigham Young’s primary residence from 1855 until his death in 1877. In this home and the adjoining office, he carried out his duties as president of the Church and governor of the Territory of Deseret (later admitted to the Union as the state of Utah). It was also where President Young welcomed such historical luminaries as Mark Twain, U.S. presidents Ulysses S. Grant and John Tyler, and entertainers P. T. Barnum and Tom Thumb.
The three-story Beehive House also served as the official residence of two other Presidents of the Church — Lorenzo Snow and Joseph F. Smith. The home — which gets its name from the beehive sculpture that adorns the top of the mansion — was previously restored to its 19th-century appearance, and tours have given visitors a glimpse of frontier family life in the 1860s and 1870s as well as the family life and leadership for those who lived there between 1854 and 1918.
The Lion House
The same year the Beehive House was completed, President Young started construction on another home next door. When it was finished in 1856, he installed a 1,200-pound stone statue of a lion above the entrance — hence, the name.
The three-story house had 26 bedrooms to accommodate Brigham Young’s large family. In 1870, the Lion House parlor was the site of meetings that led to the creation of the Church’s Young Women organization. It also provided classroom space for the nearby LDS University in the early 1900s.
In the 1960s, the building was preserved from planned demolition and turned into an event venue, with its historic décor and outdoor garden area a popular reception and event area and the Lion House Pantry — a cafeteria-style restaurant — featured on the building’s first floor.
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Renovations to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building — the former Hotel Utah — will begin in early 2023. The building and its restaurants and event spaces will be closed to the public during renovations.
In addition to upgrading electrical and mechanical spaces, other renovations will include improved guest and event spaces, additional elevators and upgraded restaurants.
The multi-purpose, 10-story administrative office building and social center situated between the Church Administration Building and Temple Square proper provides dining options and event hosting with restaurants, large meeting rooms and banquet and wedding reception rooms.
Originally, the Hotel Utah was finished in 1911, bringing a world-class hotel to Salt Lake City and operating as such for more than 75 years.
Hospitality operations ceased in 1987, with the building adapted for other purposes, reopening in 1993 for office and meeting space operated by the Church and providing space for public events and dining options.