Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Sad Day For A Historic Building

February 4, 2009 was a sad day for residents of Moapa Valley. The Logandale Chapel caught fire at about 4 a.m. The fire began in the relief society room, but quickly spread.

The fire spread to the roof and the attic, eventually leaving the chapel in a state of rubble.

The Logandale Chapel had a great heritage. Before its construction, various wards and bishops in the Moapa Valley area had dreamed of building a modern chapel, but had been were discouraged by the cost. In addition, local church leadership knew that the small chapels being advocated by the church building department at the time would not meet the needs of the large Logandale ward. Finally, in 1949 Bishop Grant Bowler of Logandale received permission to build a chapel. He talked with Brother Andersen of the church building department and chose a chapel plan that would accomodate the needs of the ward. The new chapel was projected to cost $150,000, half of which would be paid by the ward. This was a large commitment for a ward of less than 400 members. In addition, the ward members would need to raise $10,000 before construction could begin.

Grant M. Bowler 1954

Upon arriving home, Bishop Bowler went straight to work to raise the necessary funds. He and his bishopric visited ward member homes, showed them the building plans, and encouraged them to donate to the fund. In addition to other fund raising projects, members donated horses, livestock, cars, pies, hay, etc. for an auction. This spirited event was a great success.

Bishop Grant Bowler and Thomas Leavitt-1950

After Bishop Bowler returned home from the auction, he received a phone call, from Lou Adams who asked how much money the ward needed to meet the $10,000 goal. Bishop Bowler informed him that the ward had earned $9,907. Brother Adams stopped by Bishop Bowler's home the next morning with a check for the remaining $93.00. The goal had been reached!

With the $10,000 check in hand Bishop Bowler made his way back to Salt Lake City. He met with a building supervisor there who said that the ward would need to build a different type of chapel than the one originally agreed upon..He showed Bishop Bowler a photo of a small chapel that greatly resembled a barn. Bishop Bowler stared at the photo in horror, saying that Brother Andersen had promised him that if they could raise $10,000 then they could build the original plan. During hs imapassioned plea, Brother Andersen appeared at the doorway. With a faint smile he said, "Well, it looks like there is no way out of this, eccept to build the chapel we agreed upon last spring."

The original building site was on Liston street, but a series of land swaps occured that allowed the building to be built on Moapa Valley Blvd. The new building site added an additional $2,000 to the cost. Nothing was said about the change by the church department until several months later when Bishop Bowler received a phone call informing him that the new property was too expensive and that another site should be located. Bishop Bowler informed him, "Well, we are just a little late to do that. We are putting on the roof."

Saturday Construction Crew 1951

As the buidling was being constructed, Bishop Bowler felt that it would not be large enough to accomodate the needs of the ward. He talked with Stake President Bryan L. Bunker, who wrote a letter to the church requesting approval to enlarge the original plan. Because of limited time, President Bunker requested that he be notified within 10 days if the building department did not approve of the enlargement. Ten days went by with no word, so the ward went forward with the enlargement.. The Church building department never said anything about the addition, but local church leaders realized that they were no doubt displeased with an enlargement to a chapel they already felt was much to large. However, when the Presiding Bishop LeGrand Richards came to dedicate the building on February 18, 1951, he voiced a differing opinion, saying, "the building wasn't too large. We are building too small of a chapel all over the Church."

Logandale Chapel 1951

Le Grand Richards

Little did anyone know that the Logandale Chapel would need to serve as a Stake Center just three years later, when the stake was divided and the Moapa Stake Center was moved back to Logandale. Apostle Harold B. Lee, who presided over the stake division, informed the saints that the Logandale Chapel would serve as the stake center and told them that, "The Lord has a way of seeing ahead so as to have things prepared when he needs them."

Elder Harold B. Lee

I am sad to lose a building of such great historical significance. When I think of this sad event, I am reminded of an experience I had about four years ago. We were living in Salt Lake City for a year while Jared completed his residency. The local chapel was rededicated after an extensive renovation project. H. David Burton, the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, presided at the dedication.

Presiding Bishop H. David Burton

He explained that because of the magnitude of the renovation project it would have been cheaper to tear down the existing building and build a new chapel. However, he said the original building was preserved because of the many memories and spiritual experiences that had been gained in the chapel.
I did not attend church in the Logandale Chapel, but it was the closest chapel to my home. It served as the stake center for most of the years I was groing up, so I have many memories associated with this buiding-stake conferences, youth dances, stake youth conference, firesides, my baptism etc.. I will greatly miss this historic building. I feel as if I have lost a dear friend.

Note: The historical information and pictures were obtained from the book Zion On The Muddy: The Story Of The Saints Of The Moapa (Logandale Nevada) Stake by G. Lynn Bowler, the Logandale Nevada Stake Historian and son of Bishop Grant Bowler. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the history of the saints of The Moapa Valley.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great post. I didn't know most of that info about the building. But I have many simliar memories of that building.