Filed Under Education

Amanda Knight Hall (AKH)

Named for a notable pioneer woman, Amanda Knight Hall was part of BYU’s pioneering effort to house its growing student body.

In 1938, after Brigham Young University’s new Allen Hall dormitory for men successfully addressed student housing needs, BYU administrators resolved to build a companion hall for women. BYU rehired Allen Hall’s architect, Joseph Nelson, to design the second building. Nelson innovated upon the Jacobethan Revival style he used for Allen Hall by seamlessly blending it with the English Tudor Revival, such as in the steep main gable, making the building simultaneously regal yet domestic.

BYU Administrators named the building after Amanda Knight. Known as a philanthropist to BYU alongside her husband Jesse Knight, Amanda Knight also exemplified positive attributes worth emulating. Knight was thrifty, unselfish, devout, and feisty. A nephew’s journal noted her home industry, as she made and sold butter and cheese while raising her children. A friend, Mary Hammond, called Knight “absolute[ly] devot[ed]… to all that is better and purer and truer.”

Construction crews finished building Amanda Knight Hall in 1939, and nine women lived there as early as April 1940. Only two were from Utah, while one was from Canada, two from Hawai’i, and three from Mexico. Over the years, many students, from around the world, followed these initial nine. Amanda Knight Hall was BYU’s first all-women dormitory, and before World War II it was BYU’s only institutional housing for female students. In 1954, the hall housed 130 students.

Amanda Knight Hall was designed for student use. For “those interested in the books,” as a 1954 dedicatory program described, the hall had a study room with nighttime quiet hours. There was also had a sewing room so students could practice applied home economics. Student government was another feature, and residents elected a hall president and council to serve, represent, and manage the hall.

Students lived in Amanda Knight Hall until 1964, when BYU stopped using the building as a dormitory. The university occasionally used Knight Hall as extra office space, and the Church’s Language Training Mission also used the building as overflow housing for missionaries until 1976, when the Church completed new housing and headquarters for the Training Mission. Thereafter, BYU also used the building for language training, and its English Language Center held classes in Amanda Knight Hall through the 1980s. The offices of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies even had a stint in Amanda Knight Hall into the 1990s.

By the twenty-first century, however, BYU began seriously considering demolishing the building, deeming it unsafe. Amanda Knight Hall lacked modern earthquake-proofing, and its lead paint was a health hazard. However, Preservation Utah—a historic preservation nonprofit—urged BYU to instead conserve the building, especially after BYU demolished Allen Hall in 2018, making Amanda Knight Hall the last “visual tie between the original (lower) campus and the current (upper) campus of Brigham Young University,” in Korral Broschinsky’s words.

Administrators had reservations about Amanda Knight Hall’s usefulness, but under university president Kevin Worthen’s leadership, BYU forestalled demolition and placed the building on sale. In 2019, Mountain Classic Real Estate—a firm with historic renovation experience—purchased Amanda Knight Hall and announced it would restore the building for its original purpose: student housing. During the process, the firm’s managers, brothers Chris and Davis Phipps, serendipitously learned they had a personal connection to the building: their grandmother, Patricia Leone Taylor, lived in Amanda Knight Hall in its early years.

After two years of renovation, Mountain Classic held an open house for the restored building in August 2021, and it opened its doors for up to fifty-seven women as BYU contracted women’s housing. More than eighty years old, Amanda Knight Hall could once again be home to pioneering women scholars in honor of its pioneer woman namesake.

Images

Amanda Knight’s legacy
Amanda Knight’s legacy For years, Amanda Knight Hall was home to women scholars at BYU, carrying on Amanda Knight’s legacy of “devotion of self to all that is better and purer and truer.” Source: Image 13. n.d. Brigham Young University photographs of Amanda Knight Hall (UA 827 box 6 folder 2). Courtesy of University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20609.
Hall in progress
Hall in progress Y Mountain is visible just behind the Amanda Knight Hall construction site. Native Utahn architect Joseph Nelson designed the hall, and Laval S. Morris and Karl A. Miller landscaped the building’s grounds. Source: Image 4. n.d. Brigham Young University photographs of Amanda Knight Hall (UA 827 box 6 folder 1). Courtesy of University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20590.
Hall in snow
Hall in snow While the photograph is undated, note the car on the street. The Jacobethan gables are also clearly visible in this image. Source: Image 6. n.d. Brigham Young University photographs of Amanda Knight Hall (UA 827 box 6 folder 1). Courtesy of University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20592.
Amanda Knight
Amanda Knight Friend Mary C. Hammond described Amanda Knight in the following words: “Absolute devotion of self to all that is better and purer and truer, is the secret of character building. Sister Knight has long since found the secret.” Source: “Amanda Knight.” (Photo #21581) Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=431909&q=%22Amanda+Knight%22&facet_setname_s=dha_%2A.
Residents of ’64 (1 of 2)
Residents of ’64 (1 of 2) Amanda Knight Hall had a full house up to its last year of operation as a student dormitory in 1964. The 1964 residents split into two groups for two photographs so they could fit in this room, possibly a parlor of Amanda Knight Hall. The word “Banyan” printed in ink refers to the Banyan, Brigham Young University’s annual yearbook, for which the photograph was taken. Source: Image 8 and Image 9. Poss. Helio Gonzalez, 1964. Brigham Young University photographs of Amanda Knight Hall (UA 827 box 6 folder 2). Courtesy of University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20604, https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20605. Also page 302 of Justesen, Joel L. and Holly Thorstad, ed. Banyan. Provo, UT: Associated Students of Brigham Young University, 1964. Via Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/banyan1964brig/page/302/. Creator: Poss. Helio Gonzalez.
Residents of ’64 (2 of 2)
Residents of ’64 (2 of 2) Amanda Knight Hall had a full house up to its last year of operation as a student dormitory in 1964. The 1964 residents split into two groups for two photographs so they could fit in this room, possibly a parlor of Amanda Knight Hall. The word “Banyan” printed in ink refers to the Banyan, Brigham Young University’s annual yearbook, for which the photograph was taken. Source: Image 10 and Image 11. Poss. Helio Gonzalez, 1964. Brigham Young University photographs of Amanda Knight Hall (UA 827 box 6 folder 2). Courtesy of University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20606, https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20607. Also page 302 of Justesen, Joel L. and Holly Thorstad, ed. Banyan. Provo, UT: Associated Students of Brigham Young University, 1964. Via Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/banyan1964brig/page/302/. Creator: Poss. Helio Gonzalez.
Amanda Knight Hall
Amanda Knight Hall The steeply pitched main gables over the doors, such as the one on the far right, is typical of the English Tudor Revival style which architect Joseph Nelson used in his design of Amanda Knight Hall. Source: Image 4. n.d. Brigham Young University photographs of Amanda Knight Hall (UA 827 box 6 folder 2). Courtesy of University Archives, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/20598.
In the twenty-first century
In the twenty-first century Taken after Mountain Classic acquired the property, this photograph shows Amanda Knight Hall in the twenty-first century. Compare it to the prior photograph in the image gallery. Source: Photograph 1. Korral Broschinsky, January–April 2021. In National Register of Historic Places registration form for Amanda Knight Hall. July 15, 2021, 25. https://history.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/PRES-UT_Utah-County_Amanda-Knight-Hall_form-compressed.pdf. Creator: Korral Broschinsky
Hall in snow in the twenty-first century
Hall in snow in the twenty-first century Another view of Amanda Knight Hall, in the wintertime. With Mountain Classic having restored the building, Amanda Knight Hall survives into the twenty-first century to stand alongside modern roads and contemporary automotives. Source: Contributed by Makoto Hunter, January 1, 2022. Creator: Makoto Hunter
Mountain Classic Real Estate
Mountain Classic Real Estate This sign from Mountain Classic Real Estate stands outside Amanda Knight Hall, advertising its continued use as housing for women students at BYU. Source: Contributed by Makoto Hunter, January 1, 2022. Creator: Makoto Hunter
Inscription
Inscription “Amanda Knight Hall” is inscribed in stone over the door and is presumably original. Source: Contributed by Makoto Hunter, January 1, 2022. Creator: Makoto Hunter
Interior restored
Interior restored Mountain Classic remodeled some of the interior in order to meet BYU’s contemporary housing standards. The building still retains some of the common space of the original Amanda Knight Hall, but Mountain Classic added modern fixtures like electric lights and certain furniture. Source: Photograph 23 and 24. Korral Broschinsky, January–April 2021. In National Register of Historic Places registration form for Amanda Knight Hall. July 15, 2021, 36. https://history.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/PRES-UT_Utah-County_Amanda-Knight-Hall_form-compressed.pdf. Creator: Korral Broschinsky
Aerial view
Aerial view Amanda Knight Hall bridges the gap between Academy Square, the “lower campus” where Brigham Young Academy was, and the “upper campus” where Brigham Young University is in the twenty-first century. Source: Map 2. In Broschinsky, Korral. National Register of Historic Places registration form for Amanda Knight Hall. July 15, 2021, 22. https://history.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/PRES-UT_Utah-County_Amanda-Knight-Hall_form-compressed.pdf. Creator: Korral Broschinsky

Location

42 East 800 North | Amanda Knight Hall stands at the corner of 800 North and University Avenue. Mountain Classic Real Estate currently owns the building and rents out rooms to female college students.

Metadata

Makoto Hunter, Brigham Young University, “Amanda Knight Hall (AKH),” Intermountain Histories, accessed June 23, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/569.