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Preservation Utah releases statement condemning Allen Hall demolition

By Braley Dodson daily Herald - | Jul 12, 2018

A historical preservation group is urging Brigham Young University to find a way to keep buildings the university plans to demolish.

BYU announced last month it planned to demolish Allen Hall and could demolish Amanda Knight Hall.

Preservation Utah expressed disappointment in a statement dated Monday over the demolition announcement.

“We find it unfortunate that while The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making tremendously positive and successful efforts towards the preservation of important places that tell the story of the religion and express the beauty of faith, Brigham Young University is choosing to erase a key part of the university’s story of historical growth and expansion,” the statement reads.

A spokesman for BYU referred to the initial announcement made about the demolition in response to the Preservation Utah statement.

Demolition of Allen Hall is expected to be finished by the middle of August. The university has said it does not have long-term plans for the lot but it will be cleared land with grass.

Allen Hall is at the northwest corner of 100 East and 700 North in Provo. It was built to be a student dormitory in 1938. It later housed missionaries in the Church Language Training Mission from 1962 until 1980 before becoming the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. The museum moved to 2201 N. Canyon Road, Provo, in 2014. Allen Hall has been used as overflow space for when university employees have had to move due to construction.

“For a number of years the university has studied and deliberated regarding the best use of this property,” the BYU announcement reads. “The building is now 80 years old, has failing systems and is not suitable for renovation or any permanent university purpose.”

Amanda Knight Hall may be demolished next. The announcement states that the building, which was also built to house students, later housed missionaries and is now overflow space, has “functional challenges and safety risks.”

The building was constructed in 1939.

“The university is looking to preserve the architectural features of the building by constructing a replica of the original on the current building site, while making the space usable for ongoing academic and academic-support purposes,” the announcement reads.

Preservation Utah calls the plans to build a replica of Amanda Knight Hall at the same location an “insufficient substitute” and states the university’s offer to build a replica in 2002 was rejected by the community.

“We believe there is sufficient reason for the BYU students and alumni, and the greater Provo community to again, strongly communicate that replacing historic buildings with a parking lot/grass lot (Allen) and replica (Knight Hall) are unacceptable in place of real solutions for authentic preservation,” the statement reads.

The statement says Preservation Utah sought in 2002 and four Provo resident took legal action against Provo for removing Amanda Knight Hall from the Provo Landmarks Register without due cause. The case was settled out of court and the building remains off the registry.

Preservation Utah said it was not contacted by BYU to discuss “creative options” about the buildings. The points to the Fort Douglas complex as an example. The complex has been used by the University of Utah for student activities, housing, alternative teaching environments and department offices.

The statement says the buildings could be used and that a private developer could get involved in the project.


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