A few miles north of St. George, Utah stands a small town called Pine Valley. At first glance it does not look different from other small settlements in the area, but the area is home to the oldest Latter-Day Saint chapel still in continuous use. The Pine Valley chapel is unique from any other chapel in the state; its frame stands 54 feet high and has an attic that resembles an upside-down ship. Among Pine Valley’s settlers was a man by the name of Ebenezer Bryce, who worked as a ship builder in Scotland before joining the Church and emigrating to the US. When he was commissioned to lead the construction of a chapel in the area, he is thought to have said that he didn’t know how to build a church, but he did know how to build a ship.
Construction began in 1868 and was greatly aided by the operating lumber mill that existed in the valley. Almost 100 years later in 1960 the chapel was rewired for electricity and given minor updates under a Church-sponsored project. From 2000 to 2004, the LDS Church sponsored a massive restoration of the building that replaced the chapel’s windows, roof, and siding. It was rededicated by Elder Jeffery R. Holland, who has familial ties to Pine Valley, on May 15, 2005.
The chapel’s original meeting room is still in use today and serves hundreds of LDS Church members each year. Its sacrament table, podium, pews, lighting chandeliers, and doors are original items from the chapel’s construction in 1868. The chapel’s walls are adorned with religious artwork, which is another unique aspect in comparison to other LDS meetinghouses. The attic has since been sealed off for safety purposes, but the chapel’s resemblance to a ship is still evident from within the chapel.