Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity

Trappist Cistercian Monastery

The Our Lady of the Holy Trinity Abbey was a monastery in Huntsville was one of the oldest monasteries in the Western United States. At its peak, the monastery produced honey, bread, and grandfather clocks. Due to the decreasing number of monks, the monastery closed in 2017.

The Our Lady of the Holy Trinity of Abbey was a Trappist Monastery in Huntsville, Utah. The abbey was founded in 1947, just two years after the end of the Second World War. After the war, monasteries around the country were filling up. The Monastery of the Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky opened five monasteries around the country, one of which was in Huntsville. 

When the Monastery of Huntsville was first founded in 1947, it had 32 monks living in military Quonset huts until the abbey could be built. However, the grand abbey was never built and the monks continued to live on the land for the next six decades in a smaller building. By 1956, over 80 monks had been added to the monastery's ranks.  The Monastery in Huntsville was one of the biggest properties in the Weber County area, totaling up to 1,860 acres of land. Father Patrick Boyle said of his time at the abbey, “We had 84 monks and we would pick up fifty-thousand bales of hay by hand … we had more energy than sense.” 

Until the mid-1990s, the monks built a life and a business, selling the farm’s beef, hay, honey, peanut butter, cereal, bread, and crafted items including clocks that were hand built by Brother Nicholas. While farming the land, the monks established a tradition of leaving one alfalfa field to bloom in order for the bees to have a plentiful food source. They credited the alfalfa with making particularly delicious honey.

However, decreasing price of goods affected their bottom line. The two tons of milk and 450 dozen eggs they sold daily was not enough to sustain the community. Even the sale of calves, steer, bales of alfalfa and barley, wheat and pastuage was insufficient to reach their needed profit margin. Soon, monks began to leave the monastery. The bakery, known for its wheat and raisin bread, shut down in 1996 because there were no longer enough monks to run it. The heavy work of running the farm was outsourced and performed by college students.

The lack of new recruits meant that only a handful of aging monks were present for their daily prayer in the near empty chapel. As Father Brendan Freeman explained, “You’re supposed to have elderly Monks, then the middle age monks, and then juniors, but if no one comes then it’s just all elderly monks.” 

In the 2000s, the monastery had only 10 monks. In 2013, Father Brendan Freeman came to the monastery with an assignment of trying to sell and conserve the property. The monks voted “yes” to the sale. On August 27, 2017 the final mass was celebrated and ended the 70 years of the monastery’s service. Reverend Patrick Boyle left the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity in Huntsville to join his brethren at St. Joseph Villa Catholic nursing home in Salt Lake City. Boyle, 89, who had served in the abbey for 67 years, was the last of the remaining monks to leave the compound.

The land was purchased by Huntsville local, Bill White, to save the land as open space. The current owners, Bill White and Wynstonn Wangsgard, continue agricultural production, particularly alfalfa, barley, and cattle grazing. Honeybees are also still kept on the property. The Summit Land Conservancy, Park City’s local accredited land trust, and Ogden Valley Land Trust came together to help protect the property. The farm serves as a wildlife corridor and provides potential habitat for two endangered species, the Canada lynx and yellow-billed cuckoo, and ten migratory avian species. The property is also used as rangeland and wintering ground for elk and deer. Owls, hawks, and wild turkeys thrive in the wooded areas at the edge of the farm’s pastures.