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Moab Historic Happenings December 2003

Newly renovated DUP Building dates back to 1888
by Jeff Richards

 

One hundred fifteen years ago, in 1888, work was begun on the first church ever built in Moab. A one-and-a-half acre parcel of land was donated by O.W. Warner in Lot 1 Block 18, in on the north side of Center Street at about 200 East (just north of the modern-day “Sun Court” basketball court between Star Hall and the Center Street gym building).


The proposed building was to be a meetinghouse for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Warner was joined by Henry Holyoak and O.D. Allan as the appointed members of the building committee. A one-room building (with a vaulted ceiling) was then built over the next several months, with LDS church members donating labor, money, and materials needed for the project. Angus Stocks supervised the laying of the stone foundation and building of the adobes (which were constructed at the Jonathan Huff property). Hyrum Allen hauled the rock to the site from the canyon east of town. Carpenter J.H. Staniford supervised the carpentry work. Raw lumber and woodwork were brought down in wagons from Salt Lake City, including doors, shingles, and window frames.

In early May of 1889, the first church services were held in the building, but the LDS members soon realized that the building was already too small for their needs. Work began almost immediately on a smaller second room, which was built adjacent to the west end of the building and perpendicular to the first room, giving the finished building a “T” shape. Those helping on this phase of the project included the aforementioned workers, plus Bill Bliss (stone cutter), John Holyoak, Mary Murphy, Henry Holyoak (who sawed lumber), Dick Westwood (who hauled sand), Randolph Stewart (the bishop of the LDS ward), J.H. Johnson, Andrew Somerville, Charlie McConkie, Myron Lance. William Pierce, and Arthur Taylor. Many of these pioneers’ surnames are familiar to Moab residents today, as hundreds of their descendants continue to populate the Moab area.

The finished two-room building was formally dedicated at a stake conference meeting in the fall of 1890. Moab was incorporated as a town a dozen years later, on Dec. 30, 1902. The LDS Church members continued to hold their regular meetings in the building until December of 1926, when a new red brick meetinghouse was finished nearby. The old church and property were then deeded to the Grand County School District. School classes were held in the building from 1954-64 until a new high school was built (the site of the current middle school). The Moab chapter of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers has used the building for their meetings since 1937. Today, the old church building still serves as the DUP’s headquarters and is familiarly known as “the DUP building.”

Modern day visitors to the DUP building will also notice an old log cabin located at the southeast corner. The cabin dates back to 1881, and is one of the oldest buildings in Moab. It was built by the aforementioned Bishop Stewart for his third plural wife Marietta. Later occupants of the cabin included the Stanley family, who moved from Wolfe Ranch in present-day Arches National Park in 1908, and uranium miner Howard Balsley and Grand Valley Times newspaper editor Loren “Bish” Taylor (1892-1972), who lived there around 1912. The log cabin is listed as a historic landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

The local DUP chapter recently completed a series of renovation projects on their building, culminating in the installation of a new black wrought-iron fence around the property in November.

In September, new landscaping was put in, along with rocks and gravel. The swamp cooler was hung from the west outside wall with a metal frame and wires, instead of being supported by a wooden structure. Local Boy Scout Trevor Knutson supervised this phase of the work as part of the requirements for his Eagle Scout award, enlisting the help of numerous other Boy Scouts and their leaders.

Various other individuals and groups helped make the improvements possible, said Hallie Tibbitts, who has been president of the Moab DUP for the past six years. They included David Dalton, who restored the log cabin, repairing the roof and chinking cracks in the walls, Glen Wilson, who put in a new sidewalk and the drainage system on the west side of the building preparation for the new fence, Glen Holyoak, who donated large rocks for the landscaping, and Charlie Harrison, who hauled the rocks to the building. In addition, Rholand Murphy hauled loads of dirt, and hauled and placed the gravel to help with landscaping. Annette, Orvel and Greg Nelson hauled cobblestones for the drains and did most of the design work for the landscaping.

Money for the DUP building projects (which actually started in 1999) came via various generous donations, including those from: Peter Lawson, The Quinney Foundation, The LDS Foundation, Zions Bank, Spanish Trail Shell, GCHS classes 1948-1953, private individuals, and grants from the Eccles Foundation, along with matching grants from the Utah State Historical Society. Dale and Wilda Irish, Jan Jensen and Hallie Tibbitts all assisted in the fundraising efforts.

Tibbitts said that the DUP members also earned money by selling books that they have written about local pioneer history, by selling handmade quilts at their annual Christmas Bazaar and Food Sale held the first Friday in December, and via a quilt raffle held last April. The quilts and books are also available for sale year round. The DUP building also serves as a pioneer museum of sorts, with many old photos and their descriptions adorning the walls. The DUP building is generally open on Wednesday evenings; visitors wishing to see the inside the building at other times may call Tibbitts at 259-5225.

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