LDS Church converted into apartment building preserves a piece of Provo history

Posted at 10:19 PM, Jun 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-15 00:19:43-04

PROVO, Utah – A man in Provo took it upon himself to preserve a piece of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ history while offering residents a new place to live.

Greg Soter saw an old LDS Church building five years ago and couldn’t ignore its potential, and now he has converted the structure into an apartment complex.

"The whole concept came together in my mind, and the concept was a simple one,” he said. “I looked at this building, and I said 'That is a gorgeous, gorgeous structure.’”

The building had a few issues though.

"It was starting to go downhill a little bit, it was starting to pick up some graffiti, some broken windows and so forth,” Soter said. “So I said 'We can't let that thing go.’"

And with that, Soter took on a project to not only preserve a little bit of Utah history, but also provide modern housing for the people of Provo. And so far, he's been successful on both fronts.

"It's been completely redone,” Tenant Kierste Christensen said. “You'll see the history in the structure of the building and the exposed brick, but it's been completely redone. The kitchens are all brand new, the windows have all been replaced. The utilities are very reasonable."

Soter said the reaction has been favorable.

"I cannot remember one time that I have shown this building to anybody--and I have shown this building probably hundreds of times literally--and I can never remember a time when somebody when seeing it was not positively buzzed and excited about it,” he said.

The building includes some unique design features.

"Not every laundry room in town has a stained glass window, but this one does,” he said.

The building’s brick work was also preserved.

Soter said: "I was working on these walls with a hammer and a chisel, you know, going, ‘Tink, tink, tink,’ chipping away at the plaster: discovered this brick underneath the plaster, and I thought: 'Oh my goodness, that stuff is gorgeous!’”

With this melding of the old with the new, there's an appeal for everyone. But it may catch the eyes of one group in particular.

"So it's kind of designed as more young professional housing,” Christensen said. “Because it is a lot higher than the student housing market. But these are one-bedroom apartments, so these are for single people or small couples. So I think young professional would probably be the market for this."

Regardless of who lives here and will live here, two things are sure. The first is that this building has been given a new lease on life. The second, as Soter says, is: "If walls could talk, what stories these walls could tell."

At its church dedication in 1925, a pen, a car, and a bull were given out as door prizes. A lot has changed since then, as no bulls are allowed in the apartments now.