Hidden Treasures around Salt Lake’s Temple Square

If you’ve ever been to Salt Lake City for any period of time, you’ve probably been to Temple Square, which covers a couple of blocks in downtown. Not part of your standard Temple Square tour are some fantastic little-known gems to visit.

Brigham Young’s Grave

Aug 2014 Salt Lake City (17)Spanning State Street on the way to the State Capitol Building is the Eagle Gate, the entrance to Brigham Young’s estate. There are only a few remnants left from the American Moses’ multi-acre property that had a farm, sawmill and silk worm operations. Of course you have his homes, the Lion House and Beehive House, but you also have some other fantastic lesser-known sites like fragments of the wall that surrounded the property and his family cemetery.

You can find the latter piece of history just a block east of the Beehive House up 1st Avenue between an old house and an apartment complex. From the street you can’t see his headstone or anything, but a statue of pioneers like you would find on Temple Square with granite stelae on either side celebrating those early Utah settlers. You have to go beyond this initial garden to find the family plots.

Aug 2014 Salt Lake City (14)Brother Brigham’s is in the far left corner. Laid to rest next to him is his second wife, Mary Ann, next to her are a few other wives whose stones mark their resting place. There are also stones marking graves of a few of his children. One of the more notable names seen is Eliza R. Snow.

And, in case you aren’t familiar with what Brigham looks like, there is a bench with a life-size statue of the prophet sitting on it and two children climbing on him as he reads. This little garden space is a peaceful respite from the busy downtown streets.

Kimball Family Grave

Aug 2014 Salt Lake City (6)Another early leader of the LDS Church was Heber C. Kimball. He also had land surrounding Temple Square with his estate to the north at the corner of North Temple and Main Street. The only visible clue to this history is the name of the apartment complex on Main Street. However, if you follow a narrow path between two of the buildings, you’ll find a quiet green park that has a small plot cordoned off by a wrought iron fence. In the middle of this patch of gated lawn is a stone monument bearing the name of Kimball. Listed on a plaque are the names of Heber and many of his family members including other prominent early Latter-day Saints such as Newell K. Whitney.

The other end of this park is behind two houses on State Street. There you can access the park down the driveway between the two buildings. This really is a hidden garden in shadow of the city.

Other Parks

Around this area are a couple of other parks including the Brigham Young Historic Park at the corner of North Temple and State Street and City Creek Park across the way. Up the street from this park is Memory Grove in a small canyon. All three serve their purposes. BYHP has some garden displays of early life in the Valley and hosts evening concerts during the summer. CCP is a lovely spot to take a break from work in the nearby buildings. Memory Grove though is the perfect get away for an afternoon or day. I had regular Sunday picnics there when I lived just a few blocks away.

A View of it All

Perhaps a little more well-known than the sites I’ve mentioned, but less well-known than the tours and visitor centers of Temple Square is the observation deck on top of the Church Office Building, which was the tallest building in Salt Lake City for a few decades until the Wells Fargo Center was built two feet taller. Visitors can take an elevator to the top and get a fantastic bird’s eye view of Salt Lake City. Of course you can look down on Temple Square, but the other directions offer just as interesting of a view, to the north you have the state capitol and Ensign Peak and to the east is the University of Utah across the Avenues. To visit the observation deck just ask a host at one of the desks in the lobby of the building.

Other interesting destinations around Temple Square include the Conference Center, which offers tours of the building with its collection of art and rooftop garden; the Museum of Church History and Art, which is undergoing a major year-long redesign of exhibitions starting mid-October 2014; the Family History Library and Church History Library; Abravanel Hall and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (formerly called the Salt Lake Art Center) at the Salt Palace; and of course City Creek Center.

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