Swiss immigrant, Christian Berger and his family, came to Utah in the John Ross Mormon Pioneer Company in 1860. Berger homesteaded 160 acres west of State Street between Poplar Street and 48th South. After living two years in a dugout, the family built an adobe home south of 4800 South State Street. Only 20 families lived in South Cottonwood, now known as Murray. As more Scandinavians arrived, “Bergertown,” was created, and a cluster of small, unpainted, two-room frame houses were built, all without running water. With the abundance of water from the Jordan River and Big and Little Cottonwood Creeks, early residents engaged in agriculture. Bergertown became a smelting town in 1869. Utah Southern Railroad came in 1871, hiring Scandinavians to lay track. The railroad contributed to their community, which became the smelting center of the West. Businesses sprang up on State Street. Bergertown became an immigrant enclave. The Franklyn and Germania Smelters increased until 1950 then faded into history, no longer contributing to the pollution problem.
In 1883, Bishop Joseph Rawlins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, South Cottonwood Ward, allowed the Scandinavians to hold services in their native language. The “unofficial” Scandinavian Ward met in homes until 1893, when they built a 20-food by 35-foot wood meetinghouse on the west side of the tracks, for the Murray 2nd Ward. In 1906, Stake President Frank Y. Taylor promised the Saints that if they would donate liberally in the spirit of love towards a new meetinghouse, the Lord would bless them. Bishop Jacob Erekson oversaw the building of the downsized, T-shaped, Gothic-style chapel in 1907. The dedication was held in 1911.
The Original ward was divided in 1959; Bishop Shirtliff presided over the 2nd Ward and Bishop Ted J. May presided over the new 15th Ward. They shared the building. The building was later abandoned and used for storage. The Alano Club, a non-profit, non-denominational support agency for the recovering alcoholics, sought to buy the building in 1977. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints halted any commercial sale, realizing that: “This (AA) would be a savior of souls.” Alano removed the dropped ceiling of acoustical panels, revealing an original high, historic-coved ceiling. In 2000, Alano restored the ceiling to its historic architectural integrity. Today, the building is well used and maintained.
D.U.P. Marker #574, located at the Murray LDS Second Ward Meetinghouse, in Murray, Utah
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