Although the name of this historical Salt Lake landmark suggests that the Garden Park Ward is nothing more than a church building and grounds for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is not the case. The Garden Park Ward has an important place in the history of Salt Lake City. From the 1850s to its current establishment as a meeting house and event center for the LDS Church, the Garden Park Ward grounds are an important part of the history of Salt Lake City.
Located on the Eastern side of Salt Lake City at 1150 East Yale Ave, near the University of Utah, the grounds are now used in a variety of ways. On every day of the week, other than Sunday, the park is open to the public for leisure and beauty. The grounds have a beautiful garden running along the southwest ends of the building. Many flowers, trees, and even statues can be appreciated or photographed. On Sundays, the building is used for worship for the LDS church. Very few members of the church have the privilege of using the building as their meeting house, making it a very unique privilege within the community. While the grounds are almost never vacant due to these opportunities throughout the week, the use of the park is greatest during the warm summer week nights when weddings and receptions are held on the property, within the beautiful gardens.
The Garden Park Ward grounds and building was first owned by Brigham Young, the first governor of the Utah Territory and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After construction, the location was used as a private building in which both political and religious meetings took place. In 1857, President Young transferred his deed of the land to his younger brother Lorenzo Dow Young, who eventually passed it on to his daughter at his death, Josephine Young Carter. Carter, along with one of Brigham Young’s nephews, Le Grande, made the location into what it is today. In the 1880s, both Carter and Le Grande planted trees, bushes, and other garden related foliage, a few of which still stand on the property today. They were the sole individuals responsible for the wonderful Garden Salt Lake appreciates today.
Eventually, in 1918 the property was sold to John C. Howard who constructed much of the extensions and surrounding buildings that accompany the property and by 1939, the location was purchased again by the LDS Church as a meeting house. The building was only used for a few years by the church before becoming solely a garden and event location. Its uses remained the same for many years until LDS President Gordan B. Hinckley rededicated the land and building on January 20, 2008. Interestingly, the building rededication marked the last public appearance for the LDS President who passed away one week later.
Although the Garden Park Ward is just a small spot of land in Salt Lake, for many individuals it represents a source of both beauty and peace in their neighborhood.