Built of rock and gravel, the Farmington Rock Chapel was the birthplace of the Primary Association, a Latter-day Saint church group which has grown to be a significant world-wide children’s organization. The chapel continues to serve as a worship place for Farmington residents today.
The Farmington Rock Chapel has long provided the community of Farmington with a place to worship and to gather. Before its construction, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Farmington met for church services in one another’s homes, the schoolhouse, and courthouse, but none were large enough—or appropriate enough in the case of the courthouse—for all to meet in. When a windstorm caused a rockslide which provided enough rocks, sand, and gravel to build a chapel for themselves, Farmington’s Latter-day Saints considered it a miracle. They began construction on the chapel in 1861 and finished in 1863.
The biggest event of general significance in the Rock Chapel was the formation of the Church’s Primary Association, a subunit of the Church dedicated to children’s education and spiritual development, on August 11, 1878 by Aurelia Spencer Rogers, a Farmington resident, and Eliza R. Snow, the general Relief Society President of the Church. They held the first Primary meeting on August 25, 1878 in the Farmington Rock Chapel, where 115 children attended. Rogers felt that forming a children’s organization in the Church was necessary because the children of Farmington had too much unsupervised time. She and Snow founded the Primary Association to teach children lessons on gospel principles, civic and cultural duties, and good manners. The Primary eventually spread to other congregations, and it was adopted churchwide in 1880.
Since the organization of the Primary, the Rock Chapel has been the home of several congregations and the site of events of varying significance. Latter-day Saints continue to worship in the Rock Chapel to this day. The Church added three additional wings to the original in 1941 and 1980. Because of its significance to the residents of Farmington, the chapel was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in October 2011, and tourists can visit the Rock Chapel as part of a historic trail along Farmington’s Main Street.