Here in 1853-54 on about 4 acres, Holladay settlers built a fort to defend against possible Indian raids. Fear swept pioneer Utah in the fall of 1853 from a half dozen Indian attacks, primarily in central Utah. Subsequently this fort locale served as Holladay’s Church, school, and community center for more than a century.
The rectangular fort of adobe mud and straw, with walls 18 inches thick at the base and tapering in thickness to a height of 5 or 6 ft. on the fort’s eastern, southern, and western sides, probably was never finished. The southern wall had 2 portholes, about 2 ft. square on the inside and tapered to a small slot on the outside. At least 1 existing house – perhaps 2 – helped form the eastern wall; the north side was left open. (A plaque on Olympus Junior High School’s eastern end also marks the fort locale.)
Holladay’s 161 residents were invited to move into the fort if they desired, but few if any did. For the safety of schoolchildren and Church, social, and public gatherings, all such functions were transferred from the 1849 Church and school building a half mile west to an adobe house inside the fort purchased for these purposes. The house, remade into a church and school, is said to have been under the northeastern part of Olympus Junior High’s auditorium. Soon the house was enlarged to 14 by 30 ft. until a new adobe Church and school building was built in 1861 on the same site.
In 1873 Church and school functions in the same building ended when a church was built, still at the fort locale, near the northwest corner juncture of Murray-Holladay Rd. and 2225 East, yet not too distant from the Church’s nearby tithing yard and storehouse. Various remodeling of this church served LDS members until 1972.
In the meantime, the new 1873 church left the 1861 building for school and civic needs until, in 1876, a 2-room District 28 schoolhouse was built on the same site to accommodate additional school children. In 1893 a 2-story, 4-room school was built immediately south of the 1876 school, which was turned into a gymnasium in 1905. Also in 1905, the school was renamed Irving School. In 1910 a 3-story Irving Junior High was built a little west of the 1893 structure (the schools name was changed in 1943 to Olympus Junior High).
In 1928 Holladay Elementary School was built about 200 yards northeast of the old fort. Thus, setting aside a fort area in 1853 created what would become Holladay’s historic community center.