This might be boring to some but I would really like to keep a history of this beautiful building that we pass so often.
Reed Russell has assembled this historical record – so lavishly illustrated – of one of the most interesting buildings in 20th century Mormondom.
2810 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
The Boston Evening Transcript (18 November 1933) said:
“Much attention has been given to the beautiful exterior facing of the building. It is Utah birds-eye marble all of which has been shipped from mountain quarries in the State. It is the only edifice in the world built of this material, which furnishes a glowing warmth and richness to the entire structure. The marble has a satin hone finish and at different times of the day reflects various hues. After a heavy rain the effect is that of highly polished marble which changes, as it dries, into hazy purple. The marble was quarried at the summit of a mountain 9000 feet high, and hauled on mountain roads four miles to the base of a canyon 3000 feet below … The milling of the marble has been a phenomenon of accuracy and those who have witnessed its perfection exclaim over its precision. There are 16,404 blocks of marble in the exterior facing of the building.”
Mahonri Young, also a grandson of Brigham Young, designed the mosaic of Jesus on the Mount of Olives which stands over the main entrance.
|The Cultural hall then and what is there now. Seating could be increased from 300 to approximately 700 by removing the partition between the cultural hall and the chapel.|
|Mosaic of Jesus on the Mount of Olives by Mahonri Young. |
|This was the beautiful coffered ceiling, and in the the chapel there are nine large round arched windows, each encasing a circular panel of stained glass.|
On the east the three circular windows show the Hill Cumorah in the center, with a map of the North American continent on one side and the Rocky Mountains on the other. The southern windows have a map of the South American continent in the center and ancient Mesoamerican temples on either side. On the north, the European continent is in the center, flanked by immigration scenes from the early days of the church.
Originally, a large, leaded white glass chandelier shaped in the form of a cross was in the chapel. It had a spread of approximately fourteen feet and a drop of four feet. At some point it was removed. Also since removed was a gymnasium in the basement.
|Other spaces include the unusual dining and kitchen facilities, meeting rooms, and a baptismal font.|
|Senator Reed Smoot.|
On April 21, 1932 the cornerstone was laid with Senator Smoot presiding, and the dedication took place on November 5, 1933.
All three members of the First Presidency (Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, and J. Reuben Clark) and four members of the Council of the Apostles, including Senator Smoot, took part in the ceremonies, with approximately 3000 persons in attendance.
|This is a picture by Al Rounds. What a majestic building. In 1940, the brand became the Washington Ward. During World War 11, the church sponsored Saturday night dances in the cultural hall. After the war, it became know as a singles ward resulting in 125 marriages in four years.|
|Standing in front of the ward in 1945 is Elder Joseph Anderson, Elder John a Widtsoe, Elder German S. Ellsworth, President George Albert Smith, Elder Thomas E. McKay, Elder Edgar B. Brossard, President of Washington Stake.|
The fortieth anniversary of the church in 1973 found the physical structure of the building deteriorating. The porous marble had not held up well in Washington’s humid climate. Acid rain, and exhaust fumes from automobiles further hastened its disintegration. One report estimated repairs would cost $450,000.
An expense of that magnitude for a rapidly diminishing congregation was not acceptable to authorities in Salt Lake City. The final service in the Washington chapel was held on August 31, 1975. In September 1977, after the building had stood vacant for two years, it was sold to the Columbia Road Recording Studios, Inc. The next day it was sold again – to the Unification Church. Before the building was turned over to the new owner, the statue of Moroni was taken down, and the contents of the cornerstone were removed. It was dedicated as a Unification Church on December 4, 1977 by Reverend Moon.
Regarding the quick turn around of the property by Columbia Road Music Studios, they bought it for $300,000 and sold it the same day for $475,000.
|This square building next to the church is the Scottish Rite Freemasonry building.|
|You can't read very well what is written here but it says, "The Glory of God is intelligence."|
The current-day photos were all taken in August 2012. Perhaps my strongest feeling regarding this amazing structure is a profound concern for its future. There seems to be, at present, a handful of members of the Unification Church who are just living there. They acknowledge that the building continues to suffer; there is standing water in the basement, several cracks in the walls and the staircase leading up into the spire has been closed after some substantial damage from last year’s earthquake.
Isn't that a sad ending to this beautiful building.
To add to that excitement we went to church. This is an inner city ward that our married interns attend. They bring in leadership from other areas to help run the ward. There were several ladies in sacrament meeting that added their amen to the speakers comments. At the end of the meeting if you were visiting or new you stand and introduce yourself. There was a lady that hadn't been to church for a year and had come back.
In RS there was a sister dressed in a Chinese silk pants suit with a Santa hat and sunglasses. She was a very involved sister. She would give her amen and interrupt the meeting to ask someone to talk slower. She was upset if people got up and moved around because she couldn't focus on what was being said. Before we had finished the opening announcements the sister that had come back to church after a year broke in and told the lady in Santa hat that she was the reason that she had left the church. She wanted her to sit quiet and stop being so bossy. Well, a yelling fight commenced. The RS counselor got up and told them to stop. A lady came over to the sister with the Santa hat and put her arms around her and tried to get her settled down. The counselor told the recently returned sister that they would talk after church that we would go on. The member of the RS Presidency conducting said, "Sisters I am sorry we have had this upset. We are all here trying to do our best and we don't want anyone offended because of different opinions." Then she suggested we sing a hymn again to get the Spirit back. For sure the Spirit was gone! So this other older black women who had no teeth got up and had us sing a song that was about not judging each other. It was not a hymn but after she got us to sing it twice everyone settled down.
The RS presidency counselor conducting and another sister walked out after the lesson started with the sister that had just come back. While they were out the lady with the Santa hat got up and took 10 min. of the lesson talking about a book that dealt with a lady that helped homeless people. The lady with the Santa hat had been a homeless person and had been in jail for drugs and she was now trying to come back and go to the temple. As short time later, the lady that had come back to church after a year came in with the other sisters and I was glad she had missed the 10 minute rant. She sat on the opposite side of the room by a sweet black lady that had spoken in Church that day and give the lesson in our Sunday School class.
The lesson was already 10 minutes late when the RS presidency counselor conducting got up and ended We didn't have a closing hymn. When the meeting was over the lady that had come back to church hurried to the front of the room and apologized for her out burst of anger. She said, "I am really not that kind of person and I am so sorry I acted that way and let things get to me and I want every sister here to forgive me." Well a bunch of sister went up and hugged her. I couldn't get out of my row and I gave her a big hug and told her to please come back that this ward needed her.
I don't know what would happen to this ward without the missionaries there. They have four or five senior missionary couples in the ward and about 6 sets of full-time Elders.
A sweet lady sitting next to me was a new convert as of June 2014. She came from some country in Africa. She had walked out for a minute during the out burst and didn't know why this lady was apologizing. She turned to me and asked, "What happened?" I gave her a quick explanation. This same sister was out at the bus stop when Elder Anthony and I arrived. We talked to her and another member. She is here working for her embassy as a cook. She has lived here 6 years and met the Elders and joined the Church. She converted from her Muslim background to Christianity. She is trying to get her three children to the U.S. She loves working for the embassy and has no plans of returning to Africa. She told me that her life has changed for the good because of the Church. Even the way she sees life has changed for the better. She said missionaries came to my door in Africa but she would not let them in. I said, "it looks to me like you had to come here to join the church." She agreed. She is trying to get her children to go to church in Africa.
Sundays in Orem were never this exciting.