Crossroads Urban Center (254 S 300 E in Salt Lake.)
This building, originally built as a private home in 1903, was purchased and dedicated by the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the spring of 1905 for use as Davis Deaconess Home. The home was named for Mrs. Eliza Given Davis, the second president of the Society, and served as a residence for women serving local Methodist parishes and their surrounding neighborhoods. The original site for the work of the Society was Davis Hall, which was built at 41 East 300 South in 1883 and officially organized as the Davis Deaconess Home in 1896.
Davis Esther Hall was established here in 1937 after the Deaconess Home was closed the previous year. Esther Hall was a home for young women working or attending school in Salt Lake City, and part of a network of boarding homes operated by the Methodist Women. Davis Esther Hall closed in 1965.
On Fevruary 8, 1966, Crossroads Urban Center was officially organized and housed at this facility. The building is owned by the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church. It is maintained through the National Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church by the Board of Directors of Crossroads Urban Center.
Crossroads Urban Center’s mission is to serve and empower the disadvantaged in Utah. Its work is supported both locally and nationally by individuals, churches, foundations, and businesses.
Narrative Statement of Significance:
The Davis Deaconess Home is significant as the only known remaining structure associated with Methodist deaconess involvement in Salt Lake City. This home was a part of the Women’s Home Missionary Society that trained deaconesses as part of a larger national Methodist missionary movement at the turn of the century that sought to alleviate some of the nation’s social problems. The Davis Deaconess Home is significant for the role it played in the widespread Protestant missionary movement that occurred throughout the United States after the Civil War. This movement was directed toward many groups, including Negroes in the South, Mexicans and Native American Indians in the Southwest, Chinese immigrant laborers in California, the booming mining towns of the Rockies, and the Mormons in Utah. During the period of c.1865-1910, the Protestant missionary work in Utah exploded. Members of the Protestant churches believed that the Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints) were not true Christians and that they needed to be converted. Furthermore, the Gentile (non-Mormon) population of Utah was increasing at a rapid rate and had no organized meeting houses of their own. During the first half of this period missionaries arrived in Utah from the Congregational, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Baptist churches. These groups all established missions and churches, predominantly in Salt Lake City, but spreading throughout the state. In their attempt to proselytize the Mormon children, they organized a number of free schools that were superior in quality and resources to the already existing Mormon schools which charged tuition. The Davis Deaconess Home
is one of the oldest buildings affiliated with the Protestant missionary movement and Methodism in the Salt Lake Valley.
Women’s Home Missionary Society:
The Women’s Home Missionary Society was a section of a larger Methodist missionary movement at the turn of the century that sought to alleviate some of the nation’s social problems through the use of trained deaconesses and missionaries. The deaconesses were women belonging to an order or sisterhood dedicated to social service and serving the Christian cause. They were consecrated and trained, held office (although somewhat controversially), and served for the purposes of “visitation, evangelization and humanitarian and Christian efforts”. Much of their work was directed toward church funded schools, a Protestant movement aimed at converting the children through the schools. In 1895 the Methodists operated twenty-six schools and forty one churches or preaching stations. In 1918 the
Woman’s Home Missionary Society discontinued its work in education because of the improved condition of high schools in the state, but continued with social and missionary work.
The Women’s Home Missionary Society first became interested in working in Utah in 1881 and 1882, and in 1894 a home for the deaconesses was established at 41 East Third South to serve the various seminaries in the area. It was named Davis Hall in honor of Mrs. John Davis, the president of the Women’s Home Missionary Society. By 1896, the society operated homes for deaconesses and workers at Davis Hall, Salt Lake; Philadelphia Home, Logan; East Ohio, Provo; Thompson School, Mt. Pleasant; Gurley Home, Moroni; Leech Home, Spring City; Ephraim, Ogden; Richfield, Monroe;
and the Columbus home at Elsinore.
In 1905 Davis Hall was sold and on December 28, 1905, Davis Deaconess Hall was established at the residence on 347 South 400 East. Although the book History of Methodism in Utah claims the house was built by the Methodists in 1904, building permits, tax records, and physical evidence indicate the structure was the home built by Maggie Mosher in 1903 and sold to Oscar Groshell shortly before it was purchased by the Women’s Home Missionary Society. The Methodists are credited with building the large two story addition to the south which was constructed sometime between 1905 and 1911 (c.1908).
The women who served as deaconesses were usually in their fifties, stayed in the state for an average of five years, with a group of five or six women living in the home at one time. Women in the Davis Deaconess Home worked for the surrounding seminaries, visiting homes, teaching, and helping where needed, regardless of individual or group religious affiliation. The Davis Deaconess Home, Esther Hall in Ogden, and the Highland Boy in Bingham Canyon, were Methodist church projects in
1915 and represented their efforts within the communities that were in addition to regular church services.
In 1916 the congregations became responsible for the support of their deaconesses and this, later combined with the economic difficulties of the depression years, signaled the eventual end of the order. In the mid 1930s the deaconesses left Salt Lake City. In January 1937 the Davis Deaconess Home changed function, but not ownership, when it became Esther Davis Hall, similar to Esther Hall in Ogden.
Girls who came to the city during the first half of the century had few options; rooms were available in private homes and boarding houses, in some apartments, and in the boarding houses operated primarily by churches. Examples of the boarding houses include the Beehive House 10 and the YWCA. The purpose of these church run boarding houses was to allow young women to come to the city to work or go to school and remain under the sheltering influence of the churches. Esther Hall provided rooms for eleven or twelve girls at a time, and unlike the rooms at Rowland Hall, an Episcopalian girl’s boarding school, the home was not connected to a
On February 1966 the residence again changed function when it became Crossroads Urban Center. Originally a drug rehabilitation center for misguided teens, it is currently a nonprofit organization which operates an emergency food and clothing pantry and an advocacy group for low income, minority, and physically challenged people.