Farewell, Golden Toaster

“There’s a shortage of non-cookie-cutter LDS chapels in this world. It would be a pity to damage this one.”

The LDS Church and Utah State University agreed to swap some real estate a couple of days ago. While it may not be as familiar to many Mormons as the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the “Golden Toaster” chapel has been a part of LDS student life at Utah State University for generations. Even for non-LDS students and residents, the building has been nothing less than an iconic structure on the eastern edge of USU’s campus near the mouth of Logan Canyon, serving as both a useful marker in giving directions, and as the most accessible free parking on that side of campus.[1] According to the parties involved, the Golden Toaster will be razed to make way for a new university building.[2]

For those who are unfamiliar with the building, I encourage to you check out an excellent series of photographs of this beloved chapel at LDS Architecture (and check out the other entries at that fantastic site, too!). Although I recognize that this is of minor interest to many of this community, I wanted to at least note the passing of this great building and provide a forum for people who attended meetings there to say farewell.

_________________________________________

[1] Thanks to Spencer in the comments section for reminding me of the other common uses for the building!
[2] The piece of land the Church has apparently received in return is a portion of the now-defunct “USU Trailer Court” where my wife and I spent the first 4 years of our married life. *sniff*

Comments

  1. Steve Evans says:

    It’s a very distinctive, very interesting building. Too bad.

  2. It really is, Steve. I totally understand the University’s desire for that parcel of land–it’s a primo spot. Still, sad to see such an important part of the LDS-Student history come to an end.

  3. I remember that building! I did my freshman year at USU, but we met elsewhere. It *is* pretty ugly… but it will probably be replaced by something more bland than this one is ugly.

  4. Right, Ben. I couldn’t bring myself to praise the building’s beauty at all. Iconic? Yes. Historic? Yes. Unique? Yes. Visually appealing? Er…

  5. Barefoot Mike says:

    I spent more time at Utah State than any other university but, sadly, I never entered these doors. RIP.

  6. Ah, the Golden Toaster. RIP.

  7. The building is iconic… I don’t know how many thousands of people got to unfamiliar campus locations with the standard “take this road (Hwy 89) to the top of the hill and turn left at the funny building with the golden roof.” In other secular news parking on campus just got more adventurous…

  8. What? They’re tearing down the trailer court?

  9. Looked at the photos, love those pews. Hopefully people can get some for their homes or others uses.

  10. arJ,
    The trailer court is already 90% gone–it was 60% empty when we moved out 5 years ago.

  11. This meetinghouse:

    http://ldsarchitecture.wordpress.com/category/meetinghouses/united-states/holladay-13th-and-20th-ward/

    is near my home and is one of my favorites of all time. We call it the Pagoda, for obvious reasons. I hope unique meetinghouse designs make a comeback. It would be sad to lose all these old buildings and have nothing interesting to replace them.

  12. Spencer (7),
    I updated the OP to include your points as well.

    Man, I wonder if the Aztec building will go next…

  13. Leonard Arrington mentions this building in his “Adventures of a Church Historian.” He said the building was designed by a local architect. Also, he says that the “gold aluminum roof is thought to be the only one in the church,” and calls the building “strikingly beautiful.” Arrington served in the presidency of the Utah State University Stake when it was dedicated and built and describes how the stake president “had sufficient stature that he was able to clear the design with the Church Building Committee.”

  14. Thanks for that additional detail, Hunter. I am (sadly) sorely lacking in knowledge about the details of its history.

  15. I knew the trailer court was going this year, but not the golden toaster! Now we won’t have any landmarks to show our oldest daughter where she spent the first two years of her life.

  16. Very cool mid-century architecture. I find it striking and interesting, but agree that it’s not beautiful, although some devotees of mid-century modern may beg to differ. In any case it has so much more character than the meetinghouses I’ve worshiped in over the last ten years.

    Whether or not the meetinghouse is beautiful, the photographs at LDS Architecture sure are.

  17. This is terrible news. I love the GT!

  18. Never went to a church meeting, but I sprained my foot there during a USU Basketball Camp while I was in high school. The gymnasium is huge (double basketball court I believe).

  19. I’ve never been there but I love the pictures of that building. I think the University should keep it and repurpose it. Does the USU music department have a good medium-sized recital space? I would love going to a chamber music concert or some guitarist’s senior recital in that chapel.

    (Actually, I just now remembered that my own senior recital at the U of U took place in the chapel of the old institute building, which the Church gave the U decades ago.)

  20. Why would the church trade a fully functional church twice as large as regular ones for a piece of dirt 7 blocks north? It makes no financial sense at all.

  21. Jeremy – most of the time I was at the U, the Music Dept. held most of its rehearsals in the old institute’s chapel. I spent an awful lot of time there, myself. Very cool building.

  22. Jeremy,
    During my last year at USU (2005-2006), the music department received an enormous chunk of money from some donor and constructed a fantabulous concert/performance hall.

  23. Jeremy–you can see it here.

  24. It’s a beautiful example of mid-century architecture, and I’d love to attend services there. It’s sad and probably shortsighted that it will be razed. Often there is a bubble after an architectural phase where it is disdained and unappreciated, before enough time has passed that it’s valued again. This looks like its going to fall in that bubble, unfortunately.

  25. S.P. Bailey says:

    As a neighbor, I am a sad to see the chapel go. The rest of the building is run-down. On the other hand, we don’t miss the trailer park!

    I would not be surprised if the church builds something big on the newly acquired parcel—something like the 4-stake/48-ward thing going up on 9th East in Provo. USU will repurpose temporarily. But I understand that USU will definitely tear it down and build something new in time.

  26. The next building to go is the old 13th Ward at the intersection of 400 East and 100 South in Salt Lake City. The Church just donated it to the American Cancer Society.

  27. Dang does that look like a 60’s fast food restaurant or maybe waffle house.

    And I thought the Provo temple was some bad design.

  28. My parents told me that this was called the “Aztec” when they were at USU in the 60s. I knew it as the “Golden Toaster” when I was there in the 90s. Before getting married I attended a singles wards in a huge new double stake center for single students west of the stadium called … the Aztec.

  29. Thanks for the highlight of this great building and for the link to the site, Scott. I love a great deal about this building and am sad to see it go. It is a fantastic example of mid-century design – one of the best in the Church for sure. I currently have very little info on the history of the building, but hope to do some research on it shortly.

  30. Here’s some interesting background on the Golden Toaster. My Grandpa, Reed Mickelson, was the General Contractor. He built several other iconic buildings on campus at Utah State, including Romney Stadium, the Spectrum and the Chase Fine Arts Center. He also built about half of the LDS chapels and Stake Centers in the valley from about 1960-1985.

    The Golden Toaster was dedicated by David O. McKay. I have seen pictures of the event, and if I were near my Grandparents I would upload them.

    The Stake President who oversaw construction for the Church was Reed Bullen, a State Senator and owner/operator of 610 KVNU in Logan. One night, in the middle of the night Reed called my Grandpa. President Bullen was quite upset. “My tower has blown over, Reed!!!!!” he said. My Grandpa, assuming the tower referenced was KVNU’s, was a bit confused, half asleep and said, “That’s too bad Reed,” and hung up the phone. It wasn’t the KVNU tower. It was the Spire at the Toaster. The fierce canyon winds had blown it over and it came crashing down through the roof of one of the chapels.

    I am sad to see the building go. I attended Church there for a time as a single Aggie.

  31. Thanks for that, Tom Grover.

  32. When I was a freshman at USU, I went to church there. It’s sad to hear it’s going to be torn down.

  33. I attended BYU, but I had a good friend going to USU. Some other friends and I periodically drove up to visit him. We often stayed over Sunday, and I remember attending church at the Golder Toaster a few times. It’s a shame it’ll be torn down!

  34. I think the University should keep it and repurpose it.

    I think it won’t meet the latest seismic codes without major rework. I don’t know how active the Church is in dealing with seismic hazards to chapels. And, that building does look like a toaster.

    And I thought the Provo temple was some bad design.

    My BIL’s father worked for the LDS Architecture Dept. for a number of years, and he was less than impressed with the Provo/Ogden Temples. Too bad the “Pagoda” shows nicer design than a number of newer Temples. And, they often use a general design for chapels.

  35. Any building that is not a part of the cookie cutter hell most Mormons have to attend every Sunday is necessarily beautiful.

  36. Oh, I will have to tell my mom – she was blessed there! And then I went to church there a few times while I was at USU to hear friends talk.

    My own wards were always in the Aztec-Colonial-Purple Driveway trifecta. I was trying to explain the names of the buildings to my BYU-grad husband the other day and he just didn’t get it.

  37. Long before this iconic building acquired the name, “the Golden Toaster”, there were many who referred to it as “the Golden Calf”. I attended services there during the early 70’s, but never heard it described as a kitchen appliance until we returned to Logan in 1980 for graduate school.

  38. Romney / Huntsman 2012 says:

    Tracy M nails it in comment #24.

    Unlike people, buildings age well. About 20 years after something is built, it starts to look ugly. Then 40 years after it’s built, it takes on a retro-chic look.

    The problem is that the Church starts to tear something down or paint it right when it starts to look retro-stylish.

  39. thelibraryinequality says:

    While I was at Utah State, they re-roofed it, and it was no longer the “golden toaster, ” but the “burnt toaster.” Either way, I attended church at “the toaster” for two years, and have great memories from that building.

  40. This is sad to me on a personal level. My wife and I started dating when we were both attending student wards there. I always loved the ugly/cool architecture of the Golden Toaster. (My older brother was blessed, baptized, and attended student wards with his wife there. So he totally one-ups my personal attachment.)

  41. As I recall, there used to be a “Silver Toaster” near the campus of Weber State (not sure if they actually called it that, but it was the same design, but painted silver instead of gold). I wonder if it’s still there.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,804 other followers