Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Passing of Florence Jacobsen (1913 - 2017)

Florence Jacobsen passed away this week, on March 5, 2017. She made countless contributions to the preservation and maintenance of Historic LDS Architecture.

Florence cared about the preservation of important LDS artifacts, including its buildings, and she was bold in acting to preserve them. For example, when serving as Young Women president, she became aware of President Henry D. Moyle's plans to tear down the Lion House. She met with President Moyle, who told her, "That's all planned, Florence. That house is going to go down." When Florence insisted that it be saved, Moyle explained, "Florence, all it does is remind people of polygamy." Florence responded, "Well, I'm not ashamed of it. Are you?" Moyle countered, "That's not a fair question." Florence insisted, "It's fair in my book."

President Moyle passed away a few months later, and she went straight to President David O. McKay and asked him to let the house stand, promising him that the cost of upgrading and saving the building could come out of the income from the Lion House food services. President McKay agreed, and the Lion House was saved (See Ed Kimball's Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, page 277; also here).

(Image Source)

In 1975, when the outcry over the pending destruction of the Bountiful Tabernacle was at its height, President Spencer W. Kimball asked Florence (now director of Historic Arts and Sites for the Church) for her opinion. She responded that the tabernacle would come down "over my dead body." The Bountiful Tabernacle still stands.

In her capacity in the Historic Arts and Sites division of the Church, she collected Church artifacts, cataloged significant buildings across the Church, and asked Spencer W. Kimball to create a space for historical artifacts. The Museum of Church History and Art was built as a result. In the 1980s, she oversaw the preservation of the Manti Temple, making sure that it was lovingly restored to match the time period in which it was built.

I am grateful to Florence, not only because she cherished the historical buildings and artifacts of the LDS Church, but because she was willing to do whatever she could to save them. Many Latter-day Saints would balk at the thought of arguing against a member of the First Presidency or telling the President of the Church that a building would come down "over my dead body," but Florence understood that such acts were not a sign of unfaithfulness. The results of her actions can be found across the Mormon corridor, in buildings large and small that she helped to save and restore. I hope we have many more leaders like her.


  1. Thanks for this entry. I wish I knew more about you and your desire to share this church history with all of us. I look forward to your posts!

  2. I didn't realize she had done so much in the preservation field! Thank you for this post!