The Heber Second Ward Chapel was built in 1915 for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was added to the National Historic Register (#78002706) on December 12, 1978. It is currently the St. Lawrence Catholic Church. and is located at 5 South 100 West in Heber City, Utah.
The Heber Second Ward is the oldest unaltered ward meetinghouse now standing in the community. It is one of the best examples of that style in the Church.
The first settlers who came to the Heber Valley in 1859 were converts to the
Mormon Church. Many of them had originally settled in Utah Valley, but since they were latecomers’, all of the best farm land had already been divided up before they arrived. When the road up Provo Canyon was completed, and Heber Valley was opened up for settlement, they took the opportunity to move to the virgin land.
Since the settlers were members of the LDS Church, one of the first buildings they completed was a small log building to be used as a church. Until a bishop was called, the general church leaders in Salt Lake appointed one of the group to be a presiding elder. By 1861, a ward was organized and Joseph Stacy Murdock was called to be the bishop in the valley.
The communities in the area continued to grow and by 1877 a stake was organized and Heber was divided into two wards. Abram Hatch, who had replaced Murdock as bishop, was called to be the first stake president. 1 He held-that post until 1901 when William H. Smart was appointed leader of the stake.
Two years after Smart had come to Heber, he divided the two Heber wards and created three wards. The Second Ward boundaries included the west side of Main Street. A jog was made in the boundaries to include Joseph A. Rasband who had been appointed the first bishop of the ward.
Rasband, who served as bishop of the ward for twenty-three years, was born in Heber City in 1867 to Thomas and Elizabeth Giles Rasband. He marries Eliza Jeffs, a daughter of Mark and Mary Carlile Jeffs. Mark Jeffs, one of the early businessmen in Heber, gave Rasband a job at his store when he returned from a mission to the Samoan Islands. When Jeffs went on a mission, Rasband became the general manager of his store. Later when Jeffs’ store was incorporated into the Heber Mercantile, Rasband became
general manager of the new store and held that position for thirty years.
When the Second Ward was organized, Rasband obtained permission from the stake for the ward to meeting in the Old Social Hall. As the membership increased, the bishopric made plans to build a meetinghouse. Arrangements were made to collect money for the new chapel. With the help of the stake presidency, they selected an architect from a Church approved list.
The architect the ward chose was Joseph Nelson of Provo. Nelson, who designed the City and County Building in Provo, as well as several schools, apartments and residences, was born in Box Elder County. He lived in Provo much of his life and served as bishop of the Provo Sixth Ward. Nelson designed a number of Gothic styled churches in the 1910s, although many of the church approved architects were using the prairie style during that period of time. Nelson designed a church for a Provo ward similar to the Heber Second Ward in the late 1910s.
The first plans to build the church started in 1913. That year the ward purchased the Methodist Church at the corner of Center and First West. The Center Creek Ward, the ward in a community about five miles from Heber and just off Highway 40, bought the Methodist Church and moved it to that community.
In 1913 Bishop Rasband announced in priesthood meeting that the work would begin on the new meetinghouse. During the winter of 1913 and 1914 a group of men and boys gathered logs and the foundation of the building was started in April, 1914. Work continued on the chapel and by August 1, 1915, the building was nearly finished and a committee went to Salt Lake to get furnishings and fencing.
Bishop Rasband felt that the wardhouse should not be used until it was completely paid off. Throughout the construction period he asked members of the Church to give money to the building fund. Since much of the tithing money stayed in the local ward and stake in the early days, the Church headquarters in Salt Lake did not offer much financial assistance. The ward did receive $1,000 from the general Church leadership.
As the chapel neared completion, Rasband increased his pleas for support. He organized a special ward bazaar to raise additional money and by the end of December, 1915, the ward had raised the necessary funds. It was dedicated on December 26, 1915, and Francis M. Lyman, an apostle, offered the dedicatory prayer.
The church cost $19,251.30. Most of the labor was provided by ward members. The original chapel held four hundred people and Sunday School rooms were in the basement.
The Second Ward used the meeting house for over fifty years. In 1954 when the Fifth Ward was organized, it also used the building. In the 1960’s a new stake center was completed which also serves as a meetinghouse for the Second and Fifth wards. The old meetinghouse was put up for sale and sold to the Catholic Church. The priest from Park City holds Mass in the Church on Sundays.