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Immanuel Baptist Church

Immanuel Baptist Church is a historic church at 401 E. 200 South in Salt Lake City, Utah.  it is now Anthony’s Fine Art, an Art and Antique store.

The Classical Revival church was built in 1910–1911, but not dedicated until 1915. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

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In 1865 the Military Governor of the Territory of Utah requested the Baptist Mission Society to begin work in Utah, feeling that the already established Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian and Congregationalist churches were insufficiently vigorous in evangelizing among the Mormons.

No missionaries could be spared by the Baptists, and until the Reverend George W. Dodge took up his appointment in 1871 as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of Utah, no clergyman was available to care for the handful of resident Baptists.

The Reverend Dodge immediately began a campaign to induce the Baptist Missionary Society to support a missionary in Utah. Although willing in principal, the Society had a personnel and financial problem created by the enormous burden it had shouldered in opening schools and missions for blacks in the South during this reconstruction period. However, in October 1871, they assigned the Reverend Seweel Brown to officially open a mission in the area, but specifying that he was to divide his time between Evanston, Wyoming, and Salt Lake City. This responsibility was difficult to discharge and the Reverend Brown stayed at his post for no more than a year.

It was not until 1881 that another Baptist missionary, the Reverend Dwight Spencer, was dispatched to Utah, and with greater financial support from the Missionary Society finally established a Baptist presence in Utah on a permanent basis. On August 1,1883, the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City was organized with 16 charter members. The denomination flourished, and by 1900 several other churches and mission stations had been created in the Salt Lake City area, including, in 1896, the Rocky Mountain Region’s
first black church, Calvary Baptists.

The growth of Salt Lake City and the changing pattern of residential development caused two congregations to come together in 1908. The well-established First Baptist Church and the Eastside church merged to form Immanuel Baptist Church. The reason for the coming together was simple; both had outgrown their pioneer structures and with the new stature of the Baptist Church as an established member of the community, it was decided that a large and impressive building would further enhance that prestige.

Accordingly, a lot was purchased at the corner of Fourth East and Second South streets in what was then one of the finest areas of the city. An architect, J. A. Headlund, was hired at a cost of $1,371.50 and given instructions to design a distinguished building. The Greek Revival structure that came from his pen was indeed impressive, and totally satisfied the parishmen of Immanuel Baptist.

Finished in 1911, but not dedicated until 1915, Immanuel Baptist took its place as one of the showplace churches of Salt Lake City. However, even at this late date, and despite the growth in the number of Baptists, the major financial contribution toward the construction of the building came from the Baptist Missionary Society. Financing for the $80,000 project as a whole, and the mortgage holder, was the Zim’s Savings and Trust Company, owned by the Mormon Church.

Despite the magnificence of their new building, the Immanuel Baptist Church did not experience any rapid new growth. The hoped-for growth in prestige is difficult to evaluate and it must be assumed that the social class categorization of Protestant denominations would limit Baptist influence as much in Utah’s power elite as elsewhere in the nation.

Immanuel Baptist enjoyed an increase in members and an important role in providing for Baptist servicemen during World War II. The huge Army and Air Force installation in Salt Lake County created a need for special support efforts in areas of recreation and opportunities for religious worship. Eventually, the changing demographics of Salt Lake City after World War II caused Immanuel Baptist’s role to be reassessed and the decision made to remove the congregation to a more suburban setting.

The contribution of this building to Salt Lake City lies principally in the dignity and refinement that it adds to its neighborhood. The history of the Baptist Church in Utah is similarly given a suitable monument to the earnest endeavors of the clergy and lay people who struggled to operate a Baptist community under circumstances that were difficult and often inhospitable.

John A. Headlund, the architect, was born in Engelholm, Sweden, in 1863, and trained at the Architects’ Institute in Chicago. He worked in Colorado Springs for Van Brunt and Howe before coming to Utah in 1891, where he designed a large number of school buildings in Salt Lake County, Park City, and Heber.