Utah Arts Alliance turns old church and recording studio into ‘art castle’

SALT LAKE CITY — Artists and musicians attempt to bring an old Salt Lake City church back to life with a unique, less-told story.

Built in 1900, the 15th Ward Chapel, located at 915 West and 100 South, served as the meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for decades.

That was until the building was sold and turned into a secret recording studio. In recent decades, production companies there have been responsible for musical recordings, theatrical scores for high-profile Hollywood films, and jingles for notable TV shows.

“Here, like this very place here, is where Elton John, Billy Joel, BB King – even Eminem – had all been here,” Jonathan King said. “It was the Salt Lake City recording studio.

King, who manages outreach and community activities for Utah Arts Alliancesaid his organization entered into a lease for the space three months ago after the studio’s former operators left.

The alliance dubbed him the “Castle of Arts” and is currently in the process of raise funds* to buy the property and improve it in the future. The aim is to provide a space for budding artists and musicians while preserving the building’s history.

“A lot of people say we have to save our history and we’re actually trying to do something about it,” King said.

The group plans to eventually stabilize and repair the building by replacing the roof, installing seismic upgrades and restoring the windows. The Utah Arts Alliance also has plans for a sculpture garden and an area for an artists’ market on the front lawn.

“If we do a good enough job, maybe it’ll be called the ‘Art Castle District,'” King said.

King said the surrounding community was drawn to the building’s restoration efforts, and those efforts certainly resonated with longtime neighbor Louis Mattena – who remembers wandering the halls and playing in the gym when the structure was a church.

He said he was very supportive of the Utah Arts Alliance plans.

“I want my grandkids to see it,” Mattena said. “Cool old buildings like this don’t last, so yeah, we want to keep it.”

*KSL TV does not guarantee that the money deposited in the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit into the Account, you should consult your own advisers and proceed otherwise at your own risk.

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