First Latter-day Saint Chapel in Phoenix
The first meetinghouse in Phoenix for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) was built on this site by the three-hundred-member congregation of the Phoenix Ward. At the time, J. Robert Price was bishop.
Since their beginning in 1912 with nine members, the Latter-day Saints in Phoenix had met in four different locations – – the Knights of Pythias Hall at 23 East Washington Street, a laundry at 534 West Washington Street, an old Spanish-style building at 121 South First Avenue, and a room over a bicycle shop at 237 North Fifth Street. They purchased this area on the eastern edge of Phoenix’s original city plat and built their first chapel 1918-1919.
The handsome meetinghouse – – designed by Pop and Burton, Architects, of Salt Lake City – – was an early example of the influence Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture had in the Southwest. The Latter-day Saints worshipped here for nearly thirty years. Phoenix used it as a community center, and weekly businessmen’s luncheons and youth dances were held in the building.
By 1923, a thriving congregation (ward) of 730 made it necessary to expand the building; after further expansion in 1926, the meetinghouse filled this plaza area. Other wards were organized and more chapels were built, but the Phoenix First Ward continued to meet here until 1948, and Brill was completed. The building on this site was sold to another church and eventually demolished in 1969.
Bishop J. Robert Price, 1918-1926
Bishop George F. Price, 1926-1928
Bishop John H Udall, 1928-1938
Bishop Arch B. Campbell, 1938-1950
Sons of Utah Pioneers, Salt River Chapter and Historic Arts and Sites Committee of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Plaque located in Heritage Square.
See other historic markers in the series on this page for SUP Markers.
The Teeter Carriage House …was built in 1899 as the mule barn for the Bouvier-Teeter House. It is typical of the traditional carriage house structure, with vehicle, animal and tack storage below, and a loft for feed above. Detached carriage houses were common before garages and carports became popular. Today the Carriage House is home to Royal Coffee Bar.
It is one of many things to see at Heritage Square.
The Rosson House was built between 1894 and 1895 and still sits in its original foundation in downtown Phoenix. Named for Dr. Roland Lee Rosson and his wife Flora Murray Rosson, the house changed hands numerous times before being purchased by the City of Phoenix and restored to its original condition. It now serves as a historic house museum located in Phoenix’s Heritage Square.
Dr. Roland Rosson came to Phoenix in 1879 where he established himself as a general physician and surgeon. Rosson practiced medicine on and off in Phoenix from 1879 until 1897. In addition to his career as a physician, Rosson was also involved in politics. In 1882 he was listed on the Democratic primary ticket. In 1884 he was elected Maricopa County coroner and public administrator. In 1890 he won the office of county treasurer. In 1892 he was elected for a second term and later unsuccessfully attempted to secure the Democratic nomination for sheriff. On May 7, 1895, Rosson was elected Mayor of Phoenix. He served as a Democrat in this unpaid position along with four Republican councilmen. Rosson’s position as mayor was short lived. After difficulties with the city council, he resigned his office on April 6, 1896, before his term was over. Rosson appears to have stayed active in the political scene in Phoenix and his name appears in multiple issues of The Arizona Republican newspaper.(*)
Roland Rosson married Flora B. Murray in Phoenix on August 11, 1880. The Rossons had a total of seven children – Irene, Vivien, Floy, Norma, and Clyde lived to adulthood. Their two other children died in infancy – their first son Roland Lloyd died at age five weeks, and an unnamed daughter died at birth.
The Wickenburg area with much of the Southwest became part of the United States by the 1848 treaty that ended the Mexican-American War. The first extensive survey was conducted by Gila Rangers who were pursuing hostile Indians who had raided the Butterfield Overland Mail route and attacked miners at Gila City.
In 1862, a gold strike on the Colorado River near present-day Yuma brought American prospectors, who searched for minerals throughout central Arizona. Many of the geographic landmarks now bear the names of these pioneers, including the Weaver Mountains, named after mountain man Pauline Weaver, and Peeples Valley, named after a settler.
A German named Henry Wickenburg was one of the first prospectors. His efforts were rewarded with the discovery of the Vulture Mine, from which more than $30 million worth of gold has been dug.
Arizona’s Honeymoon Trail
For nearly forty years, couples from Arizona settlements left their homes each fall after harvest and traveled 400 miles to St. George, Utah. Winding slowly through desert and steep canyons, crossing barren plateaus, and passing rivers and pools of undrinkable water, these travelers made their way to be married in the St. George Temple, the only temple completed at that time. The trail followed the old wagon road across the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry. Couples from Snowflake and Taylor were the first known to make the trip in 1881. Some couples married in civil ceremony before leaving, while others were escorted by chaperones. A few couples, waiting to afford the trip, had children who accompanied them. Frequently couples banded together for the trip. Before leaving on the long, hazardous journey, wagons were loaded with food packed in grub boxes, and water barrels were mounted on the wagon sides. Supplies of hay and grain for the animals were also transported. When needed, settlers along the way furnished food and water from their meager supplies.
Because of the romantic nature of these adventures, reporter Will C. Barnes gave the route its name, The Honeymoon Trail. After the Atlantic Pacific Railroad was completed in 1885, a few couples went by train, and later by auto. When the Mesa Arizona Temple was dedicated in 1927, the journey was no longer necessary. The old trail still is visible in a few places. The route was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. This slender thread that connected the Arizona settlements to the St. George Temple became an enduring testimony to the faith of these settlers, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A pattern of sacrifice aided the pioneers in settling the Arizona and New Mexico wilderness.
Early in 1878 a hardy band of Mormon pioneers arrived on this mesa. With a straight edge and a spirit level they proved the feasibility of using the ancient Montezuma Canal to bring life-giving irrigation water from the Salt River to the desert sands. On February 14th work began on this project. A survey was made and stakes driven, May 16, 1878, to plat the townsite according to the “City of Zion” plan given by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. Elijah Pomeroy was the first Bishop of Mesa and A. F. McDonald the first Mayor. Maricopa County
The LDS temple in Mesa was one of the first to be constructed by the church. Similar to the Cardston Alberta Temple, the church decided to hold a competition for the design of the temple with the exception of only inviting three Salt Lake firms to participate. The winning design was proposed by Don Carlos Young, Jr. and Ramm Hansen. Announced in 1919, only seven years after Arizona had achieved statehood, it was one of 3 temples announced and constructed to serve outlying Latter-day Saint settlements in the early part of the century, the others being constructed in Laie, Hawaii and Cardston, Alberta. While none of the three settlements were particularly large in their own right, they were considered thriving centers of largely Latter-day Saint populations. The long and arduous trip to existing temples located in the state of Utah would prove costly and even dangerous for the faithful of the era, and temple attendance was (and is) an important part of the faith. As such, it was seen as necessary to construct temples in these communities.
Numerous colonies had been set up in Arizona by the church during the last half of the nineteenth century, and plans had been discussed for a temple in the area as early as 1908, but the start of World War I stopped these for a while. The plan to build a temple in Mesa, Arizona was finally announced on October 3, 1919 and a 20-acre site was selected and bought in 1921. The site was dedicated shortly after on November 28, 1921 and on April 25, 1922 the groundbreaking ceremony took place. Heber J. Grant conducted the ceremony.
Following the earlier traditions set forth in the building of temples, such as the Salt Lake Temple, the new structure in Mesa was a centerpiece of an organized and planned community for the faithful that lived nearby. Upon its completion in 1927 it was the third largest temple in use by the church and the largest outside of Utah, and remains among the largest temples constructed to this day.
In a departure from the style of temples constructed prior, the Mesa temple (along with the temples in Laie and Cardston) was built in a neoclassical style suggestive of the Temple in Jerusalem, lacking the spires that have become a mainstay of temples built since then, and prior to the announcement and impending construction of the Paris France Temple it was the last LDS temple constructed without a spire. The temple is a neoclassical design featuring the primary structure atop a pedestal, a frieze, pilasters with Corinthian capitals (12 pair along the long side and 10 pair along the short side) and amphorae on fluted columns on the grounds. Below the cornice, eight frieze panels (carved in low relief) depict the gathering of God’s people from the Old and New World, and the Pacific Islands to America.
When construction was finished on the temple, the public was able to take tours through the temple. Two hundred thousand people were able to take a tour through the Mesa Temple. The temple was dedicated on October 23, 1927 by Heber J. Grant. By that afternoon, the temple was being put to use. In 1945, the temple was distinguished by becoming the first to offer temple ordinances in Spanish, the first time they were offered in a language other than English.