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Piece of history found during restoration of old church

Published: Saturday, Nov. 26 2011 2:31 p.m. MST

The Old White Church, located at 886 W. 2600 North in Pleasant Grove, was purchased by Vickie Bott. She had always wanted to own a church. During renovations, she found a time capsule.

Alan Neves, Deseret News

PLEASANT GROVE — Vickie Bott had an unusual dream growing up. After attending a wedding reception in an old church, her goal was to own a church of her own.

"People will think I'm crazy, but ever since I was 12 years old, I wanted to buy a church; and I know that was not the norm," she said.

Now that dream has become a reality, and while preparing for the building's future, she found a reminder of the past.

The Old White Church, as it is often called, had been empty for years when Bott decided to buy it.

"Last year I turned 60, and my dream came true," she said. "We bought a church, and we tell people and they say the same thing, 'You did what?'"

Built in 1897, located in the Manila area of Pleasant Grove, it's a cherished landmark and a symbol of the city's history.

"There was just the sweetest feeling around this building," she said.

Restoring the building quickly became a family project. Floors had to be replaced and the exterior required a significant face-lift.

"We always said it's like a grand old lady, who just needed a new dress!" she said.

In August, while installing a new front door, they came across what they thought was a bolt supporting the structure.

"We brought in our plumber, our contractor. Every person that came in we asked them, 'What do you think it is?' " said Ryan Bott, who found the object in the wall. "I'm expecting this big bolt to come out of the wall, and instead the lid came off and it revealed it was a time capsule."

Inside the capsule from 1964 was a program and picture from a 1937 re-dedication ceremony, with presiding authority, Heber J. Grant, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, front and center.

It also contained lists carrying the names of church members, even primary children, who attended that day.

For the Bott family, it's a reminder of the history housed in this special space. They've dubbed it the Stone Gate Center and, in addition to a reception center, it includes an art school, a dance studio, and a preschool with a focus on the arts.

"This is my favorite room," Jennie Johnson said, showing off one of the newly restored areas. "(It) was the chapel when we purchased the building, but we knew this is what we wanted to make the grand ballroom."

Johnson, who is part of the new Stone Gate Center's staff, added that it's "a place where we can help make other people's dreams come true."

Email: bwalker@desnews.com

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