Presbyterian milestones in Utah — from meeting in a simple stable to convening in a majestic cathedral

From its humble 1871 past to establishment of Westminster College and its service-oriented present.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pastor Chris Myers-Tegeder leads a tour of the First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.

Some historical milestones of Salt Lake City’s Presbyterians, courtesy of the First Presbyterian Church archives:

• In July 1871, the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, known as a “Presbyterian Johnny Appleseed” for launching new churches throughout the American West, visited Utah and recommended the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions organize a congregation in Salt Lake City. The Rev. Josiah Welch, arriving Oct. 1, 1871, in Utah, preached to an inaugural meeting of 12 people in the Mulloy and Paul Livery Stable.

• On Nov. 12, 1871, the First Presbyterian Church was officially organized. It dedicated a new, 500-seat house of worship at the corner of 200 South and 200 East on Oct. 11, 1874.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) SYNKOFA performs at the First Presbyterian Church's annual Scottish Festival in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. From left are Steve Wesson, Aisha Zuiter, Theresa Ellis and Eric McKenna.

• On April 12, 1875, Professor John Coyner opened The Salt Lake Collegiate Institute in the new church’s basement; it later became Westminster College, moving to its current campus at 1300 East and 1700 South.

• After Utah’s statehood in 1896, First Presbyterian found its congregation had outgrown its building and made plans to build a larger church on the corner of C Street and South Temple. The native red sandstone edifice, designed by architect Walter Ware to model England’s famed Carlisle Cathedral, opened April 16, 1905 (it was formally dedicated May 12, 1906) to an estimated 1,200 Presbyterian men, women and children.

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) First Presbyterian Church on South Temple in 2013.

• Numerous stained-glass windows were donated to beautify the cathedral’s interior in 1906, and the 1911 dedication of a pipe organ ushered in First Presbyterian’s reputation as a prime venue for concerts. The original organ was upgraded to a new electronic console in 1990.

• In 2004, the church completed a multimillion-dollar restoration project. Many improvements were made to better accommodate growing demands for community functions and services — among them adding meeting spaces for Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups and expanding choir and orchestral performance spaces.