Hotel Utah memories

Published: Tuesday, June 7 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT



By Marne Newton

My mother worked at the hotel, and once she was hosting in one of the restaurants, and the manager pulled her aside and told her she was needed to work in the garage because someone had become sick.

She went to the ticket booth to take the parking tolls. Many cars had gone by, and after a while, a limousine pulled through and told her she needed to put up the gate. She told the driver she would be happy to as soon as he paid his 10 cents for parking in the garage. The driver became a bit indignant with her and told her he had an important person in the back who never had to pay. She informed him that she didn't care if it was the prophet himself, she was supposed to take payment for parking and he couldn't leave with out paying. The back window rolled down and David O. McKay handed her a dime and told her she was a wonderful employee and to keep up the good work. She took the dime and thanked him. It took her a minute after they left to realize it was the prophet himself who had paid her.


By Jim Jonees

On the evening of February 14, 2002, I was helping Church Security do security checks at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building during the 2002 Winter Olympics. One young couple came in, and he set off the metal detector. I asked to see what was in his suit coat pocket. He said there wasn't anything in the pocket. I told him that he couldn't go any farther until I saw what was in his pocket. Reluctantly he reached into his pocket and removed a ring box and revealed an engagement ring to the gleeful reaction of his partner. Having learned by my experience, whenever couples would come in I would whisper to the young men that if they had anything they did not want the young woman to see to put it in their coat pocket and hand the coat to me, where I would inspect it out of sight. Five more couples come through the checkpoint with engagement rings that evening.


By Jill Dunford

My great-grandfather, Henry Wirt Branch, was the first doorman at the Hotel Utah and held that position for about 30 years. He recalled meeting many famous people who stayed at the hotel during his service there. He never missed a day of work and was very proud of his uniform.

He got my father, Clarence Wonnacott, a job as an elevator boy. My father worked part time while attending the University of Utah, moving up to desk clerk, and eventually to assistant manager. Even though he became manager of the Temple Square Hotel in 1939, his loyalty always stayed at the Hotel Utah. He got haircuts at the barber shop through the '80s and bought his suits at Maurice Anderson's men's store in the hotel. I have many memories of lunch and dinner at the coffee shop and celebrations at the Roof Garden.

In 1946, he and my mother were married in the Jade Room and celebrated their golden anniversary in the same room 50 years later.

By Douglas Shingleton

After they had started the remodel of the hotel to become the Joseph Memorial Building, my future wife and I had a chance to go through a few rooms before they were demolished. I talked her into going out on a balcony with me to see the city. When we tried to go back in the room, the door had locked — we were out on the balcony with no way into the building. After about a half hour of pounding on the windows, someone came into the room and rescued us.

By Anjanette Lofgren

In 1934, my grandma was 8 years old and stayed at Hotel Utah with her parents. From her history, here are her memories from that night:

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