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Ogden LDS meetinghouse sites sold, land to be turned into housing

June 26, 2023 by Nicole Mason

By Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

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OGDEN — John Holmes remembers teen gatherings at the meetinghouse at 236 Porter Ave., Boy Scout meetings and once standing on a bathroom sink inside the church while horsing around with some other kids, causing it to collapse.

His father, also John Holmes, previously served as the “singing bishop” at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse, built in 1949. “Oh my gosh, so many memories,” the younger Holmes said, contemplating the now-vacant structure, to be demolished to make way for 16 single-family homes.

Time passes, things change and the use of property continually seems to morph. Change, though, seems to be particularly pronounced of late among LDS holdings in Ogden. The Ogden City Council last month approved a rezone of the 2.2-acre Porter Avenue land, allowing the housing development under new owners to move ahead, but it’s not the only shift as the church seems to consolidate its holdings in the city.

The 2.8-acre LDS property at 551 E. 900 North has been sold, the meetinghouse there demolished, to make way for 32 townhomes. Work on the new housing complex is well underway, handled by 5D Development of Plain City and Steve Diamond, same as the 236 Porter Ave. property, according to city planning documents.

Likewise, the 3.2-acre site containing the now-vacant meetinghouse at 480 Seventh St., first built in 1920, has been sold. The building is currently being demolished to make way for a development of up to 44 one- and two-story single-family homes, according to city documents. The Ogden City Council approved the rezone of the site last September, paving the way for the redevelopment, handled by a trio of Clearfield developers, Mark Koehler, Ken Crockett and Mike Bastian.

Though a meetinghouse structure at 1425 Kingston Drive in southern Ogden remains in LDS hands, according to online Weber County property records, it has seemingly been vacated and appears no longer in use. The church isn’t listed on the LDS meetinghouse locator, weeds are taking over part of the front lawn and a message at the main entry point directs worshippers to the nearby chapel at 3254 Polk Ave. The building dates to 1960, according to Weber County property records.

“They were older buildings,” said Ogden Planning Manager Barton Brierley, alluding to the Porter Avenue, 900 North and Seventh Street buildings. “They do reach their life expectancy.”

Irene Caso, an LDS spokesperson, while not specifically addressing circumstances in Ogden, said the church is always in the process of evaluating where to place meetinghouses to best serve its members and neighbors.

Latter-day Saints account for 49% of Weber County’s residents, one of only eight Utah counties below the 50% mark, according to the 2020 Census of American Religion by the Public Religion Research Institute.

“There are times when a property has reached its useful life, and if remodeling or renovation are not a viable option, we determine that selling the building is a suitable solution,” Caso said in a message to the Standard-Examiner. “These recommendations are made at the local level and are influenced by the size and number of congregations in a particular geographic area.”

Caso also noted the impact of the shift from three-hour to two-hour services within the LDS Church in January 2019. The change allows more wards, which meet separately, to gather at the same meetinghouse at staggered hours. With the shift, she said, “we can consolidate more congregations into a single meetinghouse, which means fewer meetinghouses for a particular area.”

Beyond all of that, “growth patterns” in a city influence meetinghouse location, she said.

Holmes said the changes, the demolition of the structures, gives him pause. “I have to admit I think, ‘Am I going to be obsolete?’” he said. Aside from his experiences at the 236 Porter Ave. church, he recalls dances and a forgettable basketball game at the gym at the 480 Seventh St. meetinghouse, when he inadvertently made a basket for the opposing squad.

Even so, the good memories will last, even if the buildings where they took shape fade away. Holmes maintains a particular soft spot for the 236 Porter Ave. building. “It will always be in my heart,” he said.

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