One of the most-famous of the banquet sites is the Ambassador Room on the 10th floor, where dignitaries and VIPs from all over the world are entertained. When church presidents lived in the Hotel Utah — President Ezra Taft Benson was the last one to do so — this was part of their suite, says Shingleton.
When British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came to call, she was hosted in the Ambassador Room, where tables were set up in a large rectangle and the center was filled with flowers like an English Garden. "She was totally taken aback, totally delighted," Shingleton says.
Everyone talks about the famous people who stayed in the Hotel Utah, adds Wilkinson, "but there's an endless list of famous people who have been hosted here since it became the JSMB. We've had representatives from 90-plus countries as well as a lot of prominent Americans."
From top to bottom, the JSMB is a hive of activity. If you count the elevator equipment and storage rooms with old records on the top two levels, there are 12 floors in all, plus the basement. There, the area that once housed the old Coffee Shop, with its famous trout pond, is now an employee lounge. Also in the basement are a branch of the Church Distribution office and the church photo studio, among other things.
Floors 2 though 6 accommodate two church missions. The Family and Church History Mission currently has 340 full-time missionaries from all over the country, as well as 763 service missionaries from the Wasatch Front, who work there anywhere from one to five days a week, sorting, cataloging and extracting information from records.
The Hosting Mission, on the second floor, currently has 1,400 volunteers who work with greeting and accommodating visitors.
The second floor is also home to the church's Public Affairs department.
There are a variety of offices scattered throughout the building: business offices, the catering office, the bridal-planning center, an in-house florist shop and more.
Currently, the seventh and eighth floor are vacant. "They give us room to grow," says Shingleton. Because, he notes, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is here for the long haul and is a forward-moving, vibrant place. The building may be 100 years old, but the future is bright.
"What is happening now is the greatest thing that has happened to this building," says Wilkinson. "It blesses the local community and it blesses the international community." People will always be welcome here, Wilkinson says, whether they come by the busload or as individuals. "They can meet and greet and partake of the spirit of the building."
- Why 'The Giver' is more relevant than...
- The Clean Cut: 99-year-old woman sews nearly...
- Father of 4 Roger Federer gives...
- Parenting advice that changed my life
- 60 things you might not know about your...
- No ring, no problem for these 10 guys
- Linda & Richard Eyre: Excerpt from 'The...
- Back (home) to school: Thousands of Utah...
- Back (home) to school: Thousands of... 52
- Linda & Richard Eyre: Excerpt from 'The... 32
- The Clean Cut: Mitt Romney accepts ALS... 27
- How to eat on just $4 a day 16
- Huckabee: 'Stop the fight' over Common... 14
- Here's what you can do to protect your... 14
- Let kids play outside alone? It should... 10
- Hey moms: Your neighbor's religion... 9