History of Brigham Young Acadamy, Utah
Courtesy of Utah History Encyclopedia. (Links Added)

The Brigham Young Academy building opened its doors in 1892. The architect was Don Carlos Young (son of Brigham Young) who based the plans on the designs made by Karl G. Maeser, the Principal of the Academy. One of the largest school buildings in the Rocky Mountain region at the time, the Academy could accommodate 1,000 students. The Brigham Young Academy later became Brigham Young University.

Located at the northern edge of the city, the large building was constructed of locally manufactured brick trimmed with sandstone and wood. The roof was composed of metal shingles. The large Room D, now known as the Ballroom, was a large room used as a study hall and library as well for assemblies and occasionally for dancing. A portion of room D housed the library until 1925 when the Heber J. Grant Library opened on the upper campus.

Electricity generated from A.O. Smoot's sawmill two blocks to the west provided for electric lights in the building. Heating for a portion of the building was accomplished by forced air over steam radiators; the remaining rooms were heated by coal.

The bell tower had no bell until 1912. Up until then a triangle hanging in the main hall was struck to signal classes. Unfortunately, the bell installed in 1912 was of poor manufacture and had a very dull sound. In 1919 the old Provo Tabernacle was razed and the nickel bell cast by the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore installed.

The name of the building has changed several times. Already in 1898 it was renamed the High School Building. In 1922 the name changed again to the Education Building.

After Brigham Young High School was closed down the buildings on academy square stood vacant for over 20 years. The buildings suffered considerable deterioration during this time. The buildings were slated for demolition when a last attempt was made to preserve the buildings. The Brigham Young Academy Foundation spearheaded the effort. The Foundation funded a feasibility study to determine the possibility of using the Academy building to house the Provo City Library. The Foundation also waged a successful campaign in the February elections of 1997, wherein a $16.8 million library bond was passed by the community of Provo.

The City required that the Brigham Young Academy Foundation raise $5.8 million to cover the costs of renovating and bringing the building up to code. These funds had to be raised by June 30, 1997. The deadline was met and the project went forward.


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