OGDEN -- In an era when buildings are erected seemingly overnight, officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took care this spring and summer to restore a chapel with a story of suffering and sacrifice for its creation.
To all who visit the Ogden 4th Ward Chapel, now used as the Ogden Utah Stake Center, the chapel tells its own story of dedication and commitment by those who carefully crafted the intricately adorned edifice.
"There are few LDS Church chapels in the Ogden area that have a more endearing and historical influence than the newly renovated Ogden Stake Center," said Ogden Stake President Shaun Myers.
"The church was built by humble people from inner-city Ogden, member and nonmember alike, who wanted to leave a legacy of their faith through sacrifice and devotion by building an extraordinarily beautiful church."
And all who visit are sure to notice their efforts.
"Incredible detail and architectural planning are the classic hallmarks of every room on the main level of the building," Myers said.
"Wonderfully inspiring stained-glass windows, incredibly detailed benches, ornately decorated and hand-painted beams, striking dark-oak finished moldings and doors, even fabulously detailed finished-plaster walls all denote the efforts of Saints to show their devotion to God by building a sacred and extremely beautiful place of worship."
Ilene Smith, whose father was bishop of the Ogden 4th Ward at the time it was built, said Castle Murphy was a master craftsman who was responsible for much of the extensive masonry in the building.
And there were many others.
"It was just a complete cooperative effort," Smith said. "It was paid for with the sweat, blood and devotion of the Saints."
Myers said he was pleased that the same level of dedication, care and attention went into this year's restoration of the church.
The Ogden 4th Ward Chapel
"The building was built over an eight-year period of time, during one of the most challenging economic times in the history of the United States, the Great Depression," Myers said.
The building was started in August 1929, just before the Black Friday collapse of Wall Street in October of that year.
"Through the determination and faith of the members, and throughout the depression, countless sacrifices were made to build such an incredible and beautiful building," Myers said. "The funds to build the building were largely raised by the members, with the support of the brethren and leaders of the church in Salt Lake City."
Those who were children at the time of the church's building recall a long and difficult sacrifice to raise the $120,000 needed to erect the intricate building at a time when people were losing hope in their ability even to support their own families.
There are many tales of miracles associated with the building. A favorite recalled by Elaine S. Dalton, the LDS Church's Young Women president, during the building's recent rededication, was of her grandfather who was blessed with finding a live turkey just before Thanksgiving when he agreed to sacrifice his time to work on the church.
"Everything about this building denotes that it is a sacred place, a fact recognized by local leaders and members of the Ogden Utah Stake, the General Physical Facility Department of the Church and the Church Historical Department," Myers said. "Such a building is simply a historic treasure, and it needed to be preserved."
Myers said after many evaluations, officials made the commitment to restore the building to its original luster and charm.
"It was simply inspiring to work with the Church Historical Department and to have the resources of the Facilities Department of the LDS Church to plan for the renovation of this building."
Among the additions to the historic building is air conditioning in every room.
The chapel, cultural hall and gymnasium all have modern and up-to-date audio and visual technology and wireless Internet.
"Great care also was given to make the building structurally and seismically sound, and at the same time preserve the historic beauty of the church," Myers said.
Myers said from the time the building was dedicated in 1938, it became a gathering place for the residents of the Ogden inner-city area.
"Bishop Edward T. Saunders, the ecclesiastical leader and contractor of the Ogden 4th Ward, built the building to reach out to the community," Myers said. "The full-size gymnasium was one of the first in central Ogden. The gym quickly became a gathering place for basketball and other community events, because, as Bishop Saunders always said: 'We can always have sacrament in the gym, but we cannot play basketball in the chapel!' "
When the gymnasium was finished, the facility always was open to the entire community for basketball games, leagues and tournaments, Myers said.
Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on twitter at @jfrancis.