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Moab L.D.S. Church

Constructed of adobe in 1889, the Moab L.D.S. Church was built nine years after the establishment of Moab in 1880. Angus Stocks supervised the laying of the foundation and adobes. Within a few years of the original construction, an addition was made to the rear of the building. The church was used by the Moab Ward until 1925 when a new church was built and this church deeded to the Grand County School District. In 1937 the Grand County Camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers began holding meetings in the building and have continued to use the building, with the exception of a ten year period between 1954-1964 when it was used for classrooms.

The Moab L.D.S. Church is located at 45 North 200 East in Moab, Utah and was added to the National Historic Register (#80003907) on November 28, 1980.


This 1889 stuccoed adobe structure is emblimatic of the LDS origins of Moab and the continuing importance of religion in the life of that community and is significant as a late example in Utah of a church building which exhibits the Greek Revival influence. It is of typical pioneer architecture, constructed of locally-available materials through the efforts of many local citizens, and its T-shape plan reveals the rapid growth of LDS Church membership during Moab’s early years of settlement. This structure was also the only religious building in Moab until 1910, when the Baptist chapel was formally dedicated.

The Moab area was long of interest to many groups because the Colorado River could be easily crossed at that point. Moab (then unnamed) was on the Old Spanish Trail, it became the site of the Mormon Elk Mountain Mission in 1854-55 and was sporadically used as grazing lands for cattlemen from both Utah
and Colorado in the 1860s and 1870s. Both Utes and Piutes claimed the land, and were partially responsible for the quick demise of the Elk Mountain Mission.

The present town of Moab dates its official founding from the establishment of the post office on March 23, 1880. The town served as a regular stop on the mail route from Salina, Utah to Ouray, Colorado, the first and only route in southeastern Utah and much of western Colorado. As a fragile link to the outside world, it was of tremendous importance to settlers in the area who tended to congregate at mail stops, hence increasing the population of towns like Moab. Most of those early settlers of Moab were Mormons, and on February 15, 1881, visiting church officials organized the Moab Ward with Randolph H. Stewart, bishop, Alfred G. Wilson, first counselor, and Orlando W. Warner, second counselor.

At the time of the Ward’s founding, Moab was part of the Emery Stake. However, in 1884 the Moab ward became part of the San Juan stake and began acquiring property. The Church lot was sold for $100 by the patentee, Leonidas L. Crapo, to Bishop Stewart and Counselor Warner in 1884. The bishop, a polygamist with three wives, was sorely pressed by the “raids” of the time and in 1885 transferred the land solely to Warner for $500. The following year Warner deeded all of Lot 1 to the Moab LDS Church Trustees-in-Trust: Henry Holyoak, Jefferson A. Huff and David A. Johnson.

In 1888 the building program began. “For the first part of the building, O.W. Warner, Henry Holyoak, and O.D. Allan were appointed as the building committee. Labor, money, and building materials were donated by the Church members. Angus Stocks supervised the laying of the foundation and the adobes (which) were made in the Jonathan Huff place.. .Hyrum Alien supervised the hauling of rock…from the canyon east of Moab. J.H. Staniford supervised the carpenter work. Lumber, shingles, windows and doors were ordered from Salt Lake City. Everyone with a team and wagon helped with the hauling.. .Bill Bliss cut the stones for the foundation and Angus Stocks laid them. Mr. Bliss helped make adobes on the Huff place. John Holyoak, Mrs. Mary Murphy, and their two oldest boys hauled the adobes to the Church site.” “Grandpa” Henry Holyoak cut logs from Pack Creek to make lumber at his sawmill. Many other community members aided in construction.

However, even as the church building rose, the town population also increased. When church members congregated for the first service in 1889 the building proved too small to hold them. Builders added another room sometime prior to 1900, giving the building its present “T” plan. For many years children attended Sunday school in the basement.

In 1902 the Moab LDS Church incorporated, and the Trustees-in-Trust deeded the land to the bishop, David A. Johnson, who immediately deeded the land to the Moab Corporation of the LDS Chruch, all in that year. Until 1925 this building continued serving as a church, until the population of the faithful
increased beyond the capacity of this structure. A new church was built at a cost of $30,000, and a newer one for $200,000. In 1925 the first church was deeded to the Grand County School District, who still retains ownership.

From 1925 to 1937 this building remained vacant. On November 3, 1934 the Grand County Camp of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers was organized and began meeting in private houses and in the Relief Society rooms of the newer LDS Church. As their membership expanded, they needed more space, and in 1937 the School Board allowed them to begin meeting in the original IDS Church. At their first meeting there, on May 26, 1937, “Daughter Mary presented the Daughters with an Organ” which still remains at the Hall. On October 28, 1937, “Daughter Mabel Johnson donated a stove for the rooms of the DUP. It was decided that members would take turns in furnishing coal and kindling for the fires and should also take turns in starting the fires, on meeting nights.” Finally, the Daughters installed linoleum removed from the local hospital, for which they had made curtains. At the April 28, 1938 meeting the Daughters organized a committee for gathering relics.

Since that time the original church has served as the DUP meeting rooms and Relic Hall with the exception of a ten-year period from 1954-64. During this period of Moab’s uranium boom, the school district reclaimed the building for use as classrooms and added the door at the left rear of the building to
permit easy access. They also installed a new, lower ceiling in the front part of the structure in a room then used for band class.

The Moab L.D.S. Church is a one story, gable roof building, originally built with an I plan, but later extended to a T plan. It was built of adobe with a rock foundation and later stuccoed over. A belfry is mounted on the ridge of the roof over the main entrance. Slender chimneys with decorative brick coursing occur at each end of the extension. Greek Revival influence is evident in the orientation of the church with the gable end to the road, and in the boxed cornice which returns on the gable ends. The single door on the façade has a Greek Revival-type of pediment. According to an old photograph, a small circular window was centered over the door which no longer exists. There are three two over two double hung sash type windows on each side of the original building. With two exceptions the same type of window was used on the extension. A six over six double hung window with a transom has been used on the rear and on the north wall of the extension. Alterations to the original structure include the major rear addition, the elimination of the circular window, and the lowering of an interior ceiling. A rear door with a
frame extension over it was added to the rear extension and the larger windows also may not be original. The stuccoing of the entire building dates later than the construction of the original building and its extension.