Category Archives: Washington

Dixie Academy

Published / by Isaac Gines / 2 Comments on Dixie Academy

Write-up by Isaac Gines

Placed by: St. George Historic Preservation Commission

Coordinates: 37.1068 N, -113.5836 W

Location: 86 South Main Street, St. George, UT 84770

Historical Marker Text:
“Dixie Academy was constructed to provide advanced courses of study.  The St. George Stake Academy officially began in 1888 and moved into this building in 1911.  A four-year program was recognized as two years of senior high and two years of college. The college program grew into the institution known as Dixie Jr. College and eventually Dixie College.”

Extended Research:

Built in 1911, the Dixie Academy building housed both Dixie College, the predecessor to Dixie State University, and Dixie High School.  The St. George Stake Academy, which opened in 1888, preceded Dixie Academy.[1]  The St. George Stake Academy functioned similarly to the Salt Lake Stake Academy, which ended its second academic year on June 8, 1888. They were both educational facilities built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an effort to provide secular and religious education to its members.[2]

Construction of the current building began in 1910 and concluded in 1911, using sandstone and basalt blocks.  George Brooks, a notable St. George mason, led the project.[3]  Basalt, being notoriously difficult to fashion, is not featured in the 2005 addition. To form adequate bricks, the basalt was hammered into rough rectangles, an extensively laborious process, which is why they were omitted from the 2005 addition. For the original building the southern Utah landscape provided materials and inspiration for prominent features during its construction. Totaling $55,000 to construct, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints earmarked $35,000 toward the project, but only if the remaining $20,000 could be raised by the local population.[4]  The funding from the LDS Church is significant, because in 1910 there were active campaigns to renovate the high school in Salt Lake City, but the funding depended upon the proposed issuance of bonds.[5] In contrast, at St. George the funding from the church enabled the population of Washington County to avoid the incurrence of debt to provide a quality facility. Along with the nearby St. George Tabernacle and St. George Temple, the Academy made St. George a gathering place and central hub for the Washington County Community.[6]

The Dixie Academy building initially housed high school juniors and seniors, as well as college freshmen and sophomores and employed 25 faculty members.  Dixie Academy was among the academies built by the LDS Church as it expanded its educational offerings in the late 19thcentury and into the early 20thcentury.  Beginning in 1925, however, the LDS Church began the process of closing many of these academies due the proliferation of secular public high schools.  In 1933, Dixie Academy was closed, which triggered a crisis in the community.  The LDS Church, financially stretched as a result of the Great Depression, made difficult decisions to best allocate the funds it had. This included the closure of several similar schools throughout Utah, although several were transferred to the state. After negotiations with the state legislature, the LDS Church authorized the transfer of Dixie Academy to the state, however the residents of Washington County were left to fund the school on their own.  Donations of money and labor funded this endeavor, keeping the academy alive through 1935. 

In that year, the State Board of Education began funding Dixie Academy, which had grown to a student body of about 400. The State Board attempted to split the high school and college, with the intention of giving responsibility for the high school to Washington County and continuing their own administration of the college. This was met with significant local resistance, for Washington County did not have the funds to construct a new high school and they also felt that the various social and academic activities the Academy had become known for necessitated a larger student body.[7]

Between 1935 and 1963, calls by the state to close the Academy increased. The locals in Washington County, recognizing the value in education and the ability of the Academy to deliver quality learning for the community, fought cleverly to preserve their institution through donations to the institution and lobbying in the State Legislature. Eventually, the Dixie Education Association raised enough money to purchase four blocks for the construction of a new campus for the Academy. They presented this land to the state, initiating the construction of the new college. The gymnasium’s completion in 1957, along with other buildings prior to 1963, triggered the departure of the college students from Dixie Academy, leaving the high school students in their original building.

Eventually, in 1966, Dixie High School relocated to a new campus.[8]  The Washington County School District stayed in the nearby Woodward Building, using it for its administrative offices, but the Dixie Academy building became vacant. Later, the city of St. George acquired Dixie Academy, which now leases the building to the St. George Children’s Museum, leaving many of the offices and classrooms intact.  The gymnasium on the top floor is now used as an event space.


[1]n.d. Dixie Academy Building. Accessed March 18, 2019.

[2]Done, Willard. 1888. “Stake Academy.” Utah Digital Newspapers. June 5. Accessed April 8, 2019.

[3]Dixie Academy Building in St. George, Utah. n.d. Accessed March 18, 2019.

[4]n.d. Dixie Academy Building. Accessed March 18, 2019.

[5]Civic Committee, Federation of Women’s Clubs. 1910. “Inadequacy of the Present High School.” Utah Digital Newspapers. January 23. Accessed April 8, 2019.

[6]Church, Lisa Michelle, and Lynne Clark. 2019. “St. George: Early Years of Tourism.” Utah Historical Quarterly, February 11: 48-49. Accessed April 8, 2019. 

[7]Alder, Douglas. n.d. What is Dixie State University? Accessed March 18, 2019.

[8]n.d. Dixie High School. Accessed March 18, 2019.


For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Civic Committee, Federation of Women’s Clubs. 1910. “Inadequacy of the Present High School.” Utah Digital Newspapers.January 23. Accessed April 8, 2019.

Done, Willard. 1888. “Stake Academy.” Utah Digital Newspapers.June 5. Accessed April 8, 2019.

Secondary sources:


Alder, Douglas. n.d. What is Dixie State University?Accessed March 18, 2019.

Church, Lisa Michelle, and Lynne Clark. 2019. “St. George: Early Years of Tourism.” Utah Historical Quarterly, February 11: 48-49. Accessed April 8, 2019.

n.d. Dixie Academy Building.Accessed March 18, 2019.

Dixie Academy Building in St. George, Utah. n.d. Accessed March 18, 2019.

n.d. Dixie High School.Accessed March 18, 2019.


St. George Tabernacle

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write-up by Alan Johnson

Placed by: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No. 97

GPS Coordinates: 37° 6′ 29″ N, 113° 34′ 58″ W

Historical Marker Text (1):

 In 1863, Orson Pratt, Amasa M. Lyman, Erastus Snow, apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, laid the cornerstones 18 months after pioneers arrived in St. George. Truman O. Angell, Sr., Architect. Miles Romney, Supt. Of Construction, assisted by Edw. L. Parry, Archibald McNeil, Samuel Judd, Wm. Burt, David Milne and many others. Peter Neilson gave $600 cash. Tower capstone laid Dec. 1871. Costing over $110,000, it was dedicated 14 May 1876 by Brigham Young Jr.

Historical Marker Text (2):

Brigham Young’s purpose in building this tabernacle was to provide an ornament to the city. It’s 3 foot thick basement walls of hand-cut limestone bear individual stonecutter marks. Roof trusses were hand-hewn and the twin spiral staircases with balust-rades were also hand-carved. The ceiling and cornice work were locally cast, but the 4-faced clock was made in London. Started in 1863, the building was completed in 1871.

Photo Credit: LDS.org (accessed on 9.19.16)

Extended Research:

 In the fall of 1862, Brigham Young asked the settlers of southern Utah to build a tabernacle, stating that it “will be not only useful but also an ornament to your city and a credit to your energy and enterprise.”[1] Asking the settlers of St. George to begin building a tabernacle within a year of their arrival meant that President Young intended this settlement to be permanent. Brigham Young remained intimately involved in the planning and construction of the St. George Tabernacle until its completion and provided encouragement and needed resources to the workers. St. George residents built the tabernacle while they were living in tents, sleeping on the ground, and trying to establish their own farms and businesses.

Brigham Young served as the initial architect of the building, in collaboration with Erastus Snow, leader of the St. George settlement. The two exchanged several letters in 1862 and 1863 discussing the type of building to be constructed, materials, dimensions, and general style. The decision to construct the building from sandstone came from these letters.

Main Hall Ceiling.

In form, the St. George Tabernacle is a typical New England meetinghouse in the Colonial-Georgian style. What makes it different from other New England meetinghouses is its monumental size and sandstone exterior. The St. George Tabernacle construction was primarily a public works project rather than being financed by individuals or private companies. Workers were paid with Church tithing funds and settlers from all over southern Utah Territory either worked on the building or provided goods to aid in its construction. The tabernacle was a public works project in part to stimulate the local economy. There were not very many business opportunities in early St. George, and many of the tabernacle construction workers were also farmers struggling to raise enough crops to support a family.

Ceiling trusses.

St. George residents began meeting in the tabernacle as soon as the building was sufficiently completed. Starting in 1869, many meetings were held in the basement as work continued on the main floor. Meetings were then held on the main floor while finishing work was completed in the basement. Meetings then moved back to the basement while finishing work was done on the main floor. The Saints met regularly in the unfinished building and were overjoyed when it was finally completed and dedicated on May 14, 1876, just a year before the completion of the St. George Temple. The St. George Tabernacle was used as a meeting place for St. George Stake meetings, ward functions, and community events through the 1970s. The Church undertook a restoration and preservation project on the tabernacle in 1992, which solidified the tabernacle’s place as a Church historic landmark.[2]

Interior Wall.

[1] Brigham Young to Erastus Snow, Oct. 1, 1862, St. George Stake Manuscript History, Church History Library.

[2] This content is pulled largely from internal training materials produced by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Minutes of meetings held in the upper room of St. George Tabernacle, 1872 December 28-29, Brigham Young office files; Journals, 1832-1877; Journals, Minutes, and Itineraries, 1844- 1877, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints., Call Number: CR 1234 1.

Brigham Young to Erastus Snow, Oct. 1, 1862, St. George Stake Manuscript History, Church History Library.

Secondary Sources:

West, Ester. Counting on faith: the story of the St. George Tabernacle windows /retold and illustrated by Ester West. Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Call Number: M287.2 W516c 2015.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/life/faith/2016/05/27/final-concert-fireside-st-george-tabernacle/85047148/

https://www.lds.org/locations/st-george-tabernacle?lang=eng&_r=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._George_Tabernacle

http://www.deseretnews.com/top/3727/10/St-George-Tabernacle-From-Spring-City-to-St-George-12-historic-LDS-sites-for-families-to-visit.html

Pine Valley Chapel

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write-up by Alan Johnson

Placed by: Division of State History, N-20

GPS Coordinates: 37° 23′ 39″ N, 113° 30′ 56″ W

Historical Marker Text:

Built in 1868. Designed after the New England Chapel pattern by Ebenezer Bryce, a ship builder, who said he was building it like a ship.

Extended Research:

In response to a call from Brigham Young, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a group of pioneer settlers made their way to southern Utah to colonize and serve as missionaries to the Native Americans in the area. Jacob Hamblin, William Hamblin, Isaac Riddle, and their families were part of this group. In the summer of 1855, while out herding cattle, Isaac Riddle came upon Pine Valley.  In just a few years, Pine Valley became home to an operating lumber mill that supplied some of the needed building materials for the St. George Temple and Tabernacle.

After some time, those in Pine Valley desired a permanent church building. President Brigham Young and the local church leaders, Erastus Snow and his brother William Snow supported the idea and Ebenezer Bryce was asked to plan and construct the chapel. Bryce worked out the final plans with the local church leaders and with a group of faithful workers the chapel was constructed, which is still in use today, making it one of the longest continuously operated chapels in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The building was rewired for electricity in the 1960s, and bathrooms were installed in the area under the exterior staircase. The small attic room (commonly called “The Prayer Room”) was also completed. In 1971, the Pine Valley Chapel was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. In 1998, a replica of the Meetinghouse was built and is found at This is the Place Heritage Park.

Additional information at the site.

The chapel received a seismic upgrade from 2000 to 2004, in which all of the windows, siding, roof and exterior siding were replaced. There were also some interior cosmetic fixes. The chapel was dedicated on May 15, 2005 by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

For Further Reference:

Secondary Sources:

Elder Jeffery R. Holland rededicates a chapel in Pine Valley, Utah. Spectrum (St. George, Utah), 2005 May 16.

Jensen, Cory. Ebenezer Bryce served an apprenticeship in shipyards in his native Scotland. After joining the Church and emigrating to Utah, he began construction on the chapel in Pine Valley, completing the building in 1867. Folklore about the building states that Bryce built the building like a ship. No documentation has been found to support this folklore. Heritage (Utah Heritage Foundation Newsletter). Vol. 35: No. 1 (Winter 2001), page(s) 16-17.

Utt, Emily. Pine Valley Meetinghouse and Tithing Office Statement of Significance, (2010).

Deseret News Publishing Company (2016). Beautiful little chapel. Retrieved from http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/47348/Beautiful-little-chapel.html

National Park Service (n.d.). National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved from http://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/AssetDetail?assetID=77dc0603-6087-4f56-a4bc-7b5d4508b730

Pine Valley Record. Records. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah [LR 6941 2 FILMING 2]

This is the Place Heritage Park (2016). Pine Valley Chapel. Retrieved from http://www.thisistheplace.org/heritage-village/buildings/pine-valley-chapel.html

 http://loc.gov/pictures/item/md1633/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Valley_Chapel_and_Tithing_Office

Additional photos:

Interior view of the rafters.

Inside the chapel, ceiling fixtures.

Winter Home of Brigham Young

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write-up by Alan Johnson

Placed by: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No. 98
GPS Coordinates: 37°6′41″ N, 113°35′6″ W

Historical Marker Text: During construction of the St. George Temple, pres. Brigham Young found the climate in this facility beneficial to his health, and decided to have a winter home built in St. George. On December 15, 1873 he arrived from the north and moved into his new house, though still unfinished. Later he had an office built east of his home where he took care of his various duties both here and in the north. The winters which followed until his death in 1877 were enjoyed in this winter home.

Photo Credit: LDS.org (accessed on 9.19.16)

Extended Research:

 In March 1872 Brigham Young purchased the home that came to be known as the Brigham Young Winter Home. The back portion of the home was built by James Chesney in about 1866 and sold to Henry W. Lawrence in about 1868. Lawrence sold the home to Brigham Young Jr. in 1871, and Brigham Jr. then sold it to his father. The home was remodeled, more than doubling it in size to better serve President Young’s needs. Joseph W. Young, nephew of Brigham Young, was the first building contractor on the remodel. He corresponded frequently with Brigham about progress on the house, as Brigham was in Salt Lake City during most of the remodeling project. Unfortunately, Joseph died in June 1873 in the midst of the home remodel.

Brigham Young’s winter home was completed in 1874. The architect of the original structure was Miles Romney. His son, Miles P. Romney, designed the addition. The roofs are gabled and the cornices are bracketed, a style common in Utah and apparently related to the architectural style popular in Nauvoo period in Illinois during the early 1840’s. Much of the original wood remains in the home. Skilled artisans took pine, hardened it and grained it to look like oak. The local description is “Brigham Oak.”[1]

After Brigham Young’s death, members of the Young family owned the Winter Home until 1892, when it was sold to Jedediah Morgan Gates. Gates was a dentist and operated a successful practice from the home for many years. The home underwent major renovation to accommodate Gates’ family and practice. In 1955, Gates’s daughters sold the home to the Brigham Young Memorial Association. The association hoped to restore the home but found it a larger task than they could handle. Subsequently, the family association sold it to the state of Utah in 1959. The state completed the first of several restoration projects and operated the home as a state historic site for a number of years. The structure at the back of the property, now used for storage and restrooms, was completed in 1971. In 1974, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acquired the home for use as a Church historic site. The home was dedicated as a Church historic site May 29, 1976, by Elder L. Tom Perry. Since that time, the home has undergone additional restorations, including efforts to bring paint colors and furnishings from Brigham Young’s time into the home.[2]

Because he headed South and managed to avoid the cold of the North during the winter months, it could be said that Brigham Young was one of Utah’s first snowbirds.

[1] http://focus.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/71000863.pdf. Accessed on 9.19.16

[2] Some of this content comes from internal training materials produced by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Brigham Young Winter Home and Jacob Hamblin Home: Dedicatory Services, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, M255.88 C561b 1976.

Secondary Sources:

Spencer, Clarissa Young, with Mabel Harmer. Brigham Young at Home. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1940. A delightful account of life in Brigham Young’s Salt Lake household as seen through the eyes of a daughter.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765617684/Brigham-Youngs-winter-home-Residence-offers-visitors-glimpse-into-the-life-of-the-American-Moses.html?pg=all

http://utah.com/mormon/brigham-young-winter-home

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigham_Young_Winter_Home_and_Office