Filed Under Architecture

American Fork Second Ward Meeting House

The American Fork Second Ward Meeting House was built in response to the expansion of the American Fork settlement. Latter-Day Saints attended meetings there for almost eight decades. Although its use has changed, today it remains an excellent example of early 20th century gothic architecture.

The American Fork Second Ward Meeting House, located in American Fork Utah, was constructed in 1903 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The building was originally proposed by Bishop Joseph H. Storrs on September 29, 1901. After a unanimous vote in favor of building the meeting house, plans for its construction began immediately. The ward members donated their time, talents, and money to the construction of the building. Though still under construction, they began using the meeting house in 1903. Eventually the steeple was finished, all debts were paid, and the meeting house was dedicated on February 17th, 1909. The total cost of the building was $10,000.20. In 1929 the ward members voted to expand the building to house all auxiliaries. The expansion and remodel included updating the chapel in the southeast section of the building beneath the steeple and the addition of a new recreational hall. The construction resulted in the church's current U-shape. John L. Firmage and his wife, members of the ward, donated $15,000 to the remodel. As a result, the addition was often referred to as the Firmage recreational hall. Architect Don Carlos Young, of Young and Hansen Architects, designed the renovation in the original gothic style. The total cost of the project was $48,555.54 by the end of the project. 

After the remodel, the updated chapel was used only for sacred purposes while the recreation hall was used for all other activities. The recreation hall was frequently the location of wedding receptions, dramas, and other community gatherings. The renovation also created enough space for classrooms to accommodate Sunday School and other auxiliary meetings. It even included offices for Bishopric members. 

The American Fork Second Ward utilized the building until the early 1980s when it was abandoned for a newer meeting house. In 1984 the abandoned church building was purchased by Michael Bigelow, who owned the building in 2023. An application was submitted for the meeting house to become a historical site in November 1991 and the historical status was granted in 1992. Bigelow has since made small updates to accommodate a residence for his family on the upper floor Sunday School room, and minor changes to utilize the space for their pipe organ design and construction business that is on the main and basement levels. The Bigelow family has been careful to maintain the original gothic architecture of the meeting house. 

Images

East side steeple, American Fork Meeting House
East side steeple, American Fork Meeting House Creator: Courtesy of Cecilie Cooper
American Fork Second Ward Historical Plaque
American Fork Second Ward Historical Plaque Creator: Courtesy of Cecilie Cooper
American Fork Second Ward Meeting House
American Fork Second Ward Meeting House Creator: Courtesy of Cecilie Cooper
Added Expansion of the West Side, American Fork Second Ward Meeting House
Added Expansion of the West Side, American Fork Second Ward Meeting House Creator: Courtesy of Cecilie Cooper

Location

Metadata

Cecilie Cooper, Brigham Young University, “American Fork Second Ward Meeting House,” Intermountain Histories, accessed July 24, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/766.