22 Jan Then and Now: New Digital Exhibit Features Religious Structures
The J. Willard Marriott Library has a new digital exhibit that highlights historical photographs of churches and other religious buildings in Salt Lake City. Digitized in recent years and accessible through the Marriott’s Digital Library, these photos come from several collections held by the library and partner institutions such as the Utah State Historical Society.
One of the historical collections consists of the photographs of Newell Beeman. He was a retired Salt Lake businessman who photographed nearly 200 historical structures around the decade of the 1910s, including many religious buildings. This collection inspired Ken Rockwell, a metadata librarian at the Marriott, to do a “centennial update” on Beeman’s work and create a new collection showing the religious landscape of the city today. During the spring and summer of 2018, Rockwell photographed many religious structures around town.
Of particular interest to Rockwell is how various historic buildings – including numerous ward houses vacated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – have been repurposed for other uses. Some have become the homes of other religious congregations, and others are used for cultural, commercial, or social service purposes. This new collection, the Salt Lake City Religious Architecture Photographs Collection, is now accessible through the library’s Digital Library.
The new exhibit, entitled “Religious Diversity in Salt Lake City,” gives a brief history of the evolution of the religious landscape in Salt Lake City, from the days of Mormon pioneers and the arrival of Catholic and Protestant congregations, to the increased diversity witnessed in the 20th and 21st centuries. The exhibit gives examples of repurposed buildings—both old churches and initially-secular buildings that became the homes of new religious communities, including Muslim and Buddhist groups. The exhibit may be viewed here and other digital exhibits can be found here.