, ,

In my exploring of the Utah and neighboring states I have come across many tithing offices, tithing barns, tithing granaries and more.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the L.D.S. Church or the Mormons) settled a large part of the areas here and members of the church would donate 10% of their increase to the church – they would also barter for what they needed, trade grain for eggs, etc. Now the members of the church donate with money, but at the time when donations were grain, eggs, chickens, cloth and more these buildings were needed to handle all of that.

I started this page to keep track of the tithing buildings I come across.

From a National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form:

Utah’s tithing buildings can be divided into three major categories: those
that were built prior to the turn of the century, those that were built after
the turn of the century, and those that were built specifically as granaries.
Within each category the style and design of the tithing offices reflect
current trends in Utah architecture at the time that each tithing building was constructed. The earliest tithing offices are individualized efforts, much
like the residences of the period, and contrast with the standard types of
tithing offices built after the turn of the century. Stylistically the earliest tithing offices such as those at Escalante, Leeds, Kanosh, Pine Valley, Parowan, Paradise, Santaquin, and Vernal reflect the Greek Revival
influence in that they generally have boxed cornices which return on the gable ends, and are temple-form buildings. Four of the eight early tithing offices were built of stone, a building material that was fairly common prior to 1890, but was used less frequently after the production of brick became firmly established. The Lewiston Tithing Office, also built just before the turn of the century, is an Italianate box, a common late nineteenth century
residential house type. The Italianate box, a favored middle class house type in urban areas such as Salt Lake City and Ogden, was built only rarely in the rural areas of Utah. The tithing offices at Grouse Creek, Lakeview and Lindon were not designed in a particular style. The simple rectangular form of the Grouse Creek Tithing Office is reminiscent of the Greek Revival style, and the Lindon and Lakeview tithing offices are simple forms with common Victorian decorative elements.

Of the 13 extant tithing offices that were built specifically as tithing offices between 1905 and 1910, ten were built from two of three standard plans
that were being developed by the LDS church at church headquarters. As early as the late 1880s the effect of the standardization of houses was felt in Utah as a result of the dissemination of house pattern books. Pattern books
provided the prospective home owner with a variety of house designs and plans from which to choose. In Utah evidence of the influence of house pattern books is apparent in the almost exact replication of specific house types, with variations among houses of the same type occurring in predictable areas, such as porch designs, decorative details and the location of bays. The rise of the use of standard plans corresponds with the advent of building contractors, and the move away from owner-built homes. Economics favored the development and repetition of particular house types by general contractors. By the turn of the century the use of standard plans in Utah was the rule rather than the exception, and is evident in residential design. Churches, libraries, schools, and other small public buildings also reflect their influence.

Ten tithing offices built between 1905 and 1910 were designed from two of at least three standard plans that were being used, and were referred to as Type No. 2 and Type No. 3. Type No. 1 has not yet been identified. Both plan
types are one story square brick buildings with low pitch pyramid roofs and coursed sandstone foundations. Type 2, which includes buildings in Fountain Green, Garland, Ephraim, Fairview, and Spring City, is characterized by an asymmetrical facade with an arched porch set into one of the front corners. The facade design of Type No. 3 is symmetrical with a centered entrance pavilion and two flanking windows. Examples of this type include the tithing offices at Sandy, Panguitch, Richmond, Manti, and Hyrum. Two doors are set inside the pavilion, each on a slight diagonal, and there is a small cupola atop each building with the exception of the tithing office at Hyrum.

The three other tithing offices built in the twentieth century are individual
designs, but each reflects a major current in Utah architecture. The
quasi-Neoclassical style of the Pleasant Grove Tithing Office was common to a number of small town public buildings, libraries and banks. The Prairie Style was commonly disseminated throughout Utah in a rather superficial manner as a general decorative influence on small town libraries, schools and commercial buildings. Many LDS church seminaries and several ward houses reflect Prairie Style influences, therefore it was a logical choice for the design of the moderate-sized tithing office in Richfield. The Smithfield Tithing Office is a bungalow. The bungalow was the most common residential choice in the second two decades of the twentieth century, but was not generally used for church or public buildings. Tithing office design in Utah from the beginning, however, was of a small scale comparable to and more closely tied with residential design than with the design of public and commercial buildings, therefore the choice of a residential style for the Smithfield Tithing Office is in keeping with the general tradition of tithing office design.

Only five buildings that were designed specifically as tithing granaries are
extant. They can be divided into two major categories by their type of
construction. Three of the granaries, those at Huntington, Oak City and
Meadow, have balloon frames and an internal crib created by a wall of
horizontal boards attached to the inside of a frame of 2 x 4 studs. This type
of granary is commonly referred to as an “inside out” granary because the
frame is most often exposed with the enclosing wall on the inside of the
building. The second method of granary construction is evident in the
Clarkston granary which was built of 2 x 4 inch boards stacked one on top of the other in even rows with spiked and butt-jointed corners. This
construction method is referred to as “false timbering,” and although it
occurs in granaries in other parts of the state, current documentation
indicates that the greatest concentration of granaries of this type in Utah
are in Cache County. The form of the Clarkston Granary is specific to Cache
County, having a rectangular form with a porch and door on the broad side of the building, as compared with many other granaries which have no porches and have first floor doors in the gable end. The form of the Lewiston granary is identical to that of the Clarkston building, but it has a balloon frame with an exterior wall of drop siding.

The tithing offices and granaries that were built in almost every Mormon
settlement between about 1850 and 1910 served not only as facilities for
collecting revenue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but
also as centers of trade, social welfare, and economic activity in their
communities. The tithing system consisted of local offices, regional offices,
and the General Tithing Office in Salt Lake City, to which all surpluses from
the other offices were forwarded. In the cash-poor Utah Territory during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, tithing donations were primarily “in kind” contributions consisting of agricultural products and donated labor, the dollar values of which were usually determined by administrators of the tithing program. The church used the tithing commodities for a variety of purposes, including converting them into cash to fulfill some of its own financial obligations, distributing them to the needy and the Indians, and issuing them in the form of scrip to employees of the church and workers on church public works projects in lieu of cash wages. The tithing system was the primary mechanism by which prices on goods and services were set in the individual communities and throughout the territory, thus helping create a more stable, unified economic system which differed substantially from the individualistic character of communities outside Mormon country. Twenty-eight well preserved tithing buildings have been identified in Utah.

I’ve come across photos/paintings of a few tithing offices that are now gone,

Above: Heber City Tithing Office

Above: Midway Tithing Office