Brigham Young’s Beehive House

Write up by Joshua Tedeschi

Placed by Brigham Young and Truman O. Angell (Later additions by Jon Young)

GPS Coordinates : 40.7696° N, 111.8888° W

Historical Marker Text Part 1: In 1847 after the Mormons arrived to Utah led by Brigham Young, they attempted to settle the Salt Lake Valley. In order to accomplish this goal of developing a society in this region Young had to establish residence in the area and in 1854 with the help of temple architect Truman O. Angell, he was able to construct what would be known as the Beehive House. This house was given its name from the idea that the Mormons had the work ethic of a colony of bees and their togetherness and dedication to being a successful society provided them with the symbol of the beehive and that is why it is seen so frequently throughout the home itself.

Historical Marker Text Part 2: Brigham Young was required to construct such a large home to accommodate his wives seeing that he lived a polygamist lifestyle. However, he did not stay in the same room as any of his family members. Seeing that he had so many people visiting him on a daily basis he preferred to complete these tasks in a room or his office while his first wife, Lucy Decker, was able to take care of household activities from her own quarters. The construction of the Beehive house provided the continuing symbol of the beehive for many years to come and is something that is still seen today in Utah’s society.

 

Extended Research: Brigham Young, born in June 1801, became the second President of the LDS Church and was credited with the establishment of Salt Lake City when the Mormon pioneers moved west in 1847. Once establishing himself as a devout Mormon and eventual polygamist he ended up marrying 55 women and had over 50 children. The only way to accommodate this kind of family was with a rather large residence and that is how his house in Salt Lake City came into play. Young was an extremely family oriented man but chose to keep business separate from family seeing that he had his room separate from his wives. The decision to separate his bedroom from that of his wife. was strictly business oriented and he finally had something worth working for but even in this time of people coming in and out of his home frequently he set aside a few hours each night at 6:30 to spend time in the family room with his family. Growing up with a job as a carpenter, once Young discovered the Book of Mormon it gave his life a sense of purpose and his arrival in the Salt Lake Valley provided him with a new opportunity to dedicate himself to his religion and to his family. His roll in becoming the president of the Mormon church drastically changed his life in a sense that he was essentially leading a group of people toward freedom and the responsibility that came with having control over the Mormon religion began to take over his everyday routine. Throughout his life however, Young always lived a middle class lifestyle and never had any fancy belongings or luxuries that would let you know that he was the leader of the Mormon community. It was not until Young’s passing and his son Jon took over the residence and ended up adding a large portion onto the home and could substantially tell the difference because Jon was a wealthy businessman. The Beehive house in itself represents much more than just the life of Brigham Young, it provides insight into how the Mormons settled and developed that Salt Lake Valley and why it is shaped into the city it is today. Young’s ability to balance both family and running the church is clearly revealed when examining his home because he was able to keep them strictly separated yet still made substantial time for both. His home holds a substantial piece in Utah history because it reveals how those migrating to Utah were able to come together as a society to create the lifestyle that they had wished to live out from their creation.  The beehive is a perfect representation of what it took for the Mormons to create a society in which they could peacefully live outside of government grasp and continue moving forward as a people that would eventually be accepted into the United States Culture. Unfortunately for them, their attempt at a peaceful move outside of US control turned out to be not so peaceful and actually led to much larger conflict in which the Mormons were seen as a group of people who were a plague to the rest of America.

(Blueprint of Temple to be constructed in Valley in Brigham Young’s office)

(Recurring theme of bees carved into wood beams)

(Brigham Young’s bedroom)

(Family Room)

(Painting of Salt Lake Valley during Mormon settlement)

 

 

Secondary Sources

Hendricks, Rickey Lynn. “Landmark Architecture for a Polygamous Family: The Brigham Young Domicile, Salt Lake City, Utah.” The Public Historian, vol. 11, no. 1, 1989, pp. 25–47., www.jstor.org/stable/3378476

“Little-Told History” of Beehive House and Lion House”, R. Scott Lloyd https://www.lds.org/church/news/little-told-history-of-beehive-house-and-lion-house-comes-to-life-at-symposium?lang=eng

“Women at home in the Beehive House” Natalie R juvenileinstructor.org

Primary Sources

“Brigham Young at Home” Clarissa Young Spencer

Beehive House Personal tour

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