Thursday, September 4, 2014

Oak Hills Stake Center

Note: This post is one in a series that focuses on LDS architecture that is not historic, but that departs from standard cookie-cutter plans to become unique and beautiful in a different way. To see all of these posts, click here.

The Oak Hills Stake Center is a common sight for patrons of the Provo Temple--it's a block away, and most people pass it on their way up to the temple.

The most obvious deviation from a standard LDS church is the presence of the bell tower. I ended up finding this account (written months ago) on why the tower (and bell) is there:

"I happen to have read a family history written by the stake president, L. Douglas Smoot, that oversaw the construction of the stake center. One of the original plans that was submitted by the architect, Gordon Gygi, included the bell tower. This was the plan that was decided on by the local authorities. When the local authorities raised money to mount a bell in the bell tower, the church building division rejected the plan.

"A bell was later found in the decommissioned Protestant church in the town of Marysvale, Utah that was donated to the church and mounted in the bell tower. This bell was mounted in the bell tower without approval from the building authorities. There is a plaque on the Oak Hills Stake Center recognizing the Fredrickson family of Marysvale for their generosity."

So it looks like the bell was put there without permission...but the committee must have decided to let it stay, and I'm grateful for that.

The second thing I like about this building is its use of windows:
That window may not look particularly stunning or important, but its placement means that it can provide a great view to the chapel (which, like most LDS chapels, is in the center of the building):

The window, along with the pipe organ, create a stunning and dramatic backdrop to the pulpit. I do not think it's distracting from services. I think it would help me feel closer to God.

Since many LDS meetinghouses have their chapels in the center, and the chapel is often taller than the rest of the building, I wonder why this use of windows wasn't implemented at least a bit more often. This is the only meetinghouse I know of that has it this way. I guess it might make it hard for broadcasts.

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