Abandoned LDS Church salvaged to help build American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge

Published: Wednesday, June 26 2013 6:15 p.m. MDT

Carpeting is stacked in the chapel of the Salt Lake Central Stake 13th Ward in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity have partnered to build a Hope Lodge using materials taken from the building.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Weeds growing through cracks in the pavement and taped-up windows reveal the deterioration of a chapel that has been abandoned for six years.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse on the northwest corner of 100 South and 400 East used to be home to the 13th Ward in the Salt Lake Central Stake, according to a building directory inside the building.

Built in 1951, mostly by members of the LDS Church, the three-story building with a green copper steeple housed congregants for decades before services moved to another chapel.

A partnership announced Wednesday between the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity will put the church to good use. The 16,000-square-foot church and the 2.2-acre lot it sits on will benefit cancer patients who come to Salt Lake City for treatment and low-income families who need housing.

Near the back of the chapel Wednesday, workers added to a pile of more than 30 rolls of carpet, varying in length and width.

Along with other salvageable materials, the carpet will become part of what Ed Blake calls a "harvest." It symbolizes a continuing legacy of giving people a place to call home.

Blake, executive director for the Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity, said the LDS Church's donation of the site created a home for the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge.

The Hope Lodge will be a home for cancer patients and their caregivers while undergoing treatment.

In addition, Habitat for Humanity will use materials from the church to build homes for Salt Lake Valley families in need.

"This is a great partnership where we basically came together for a perfect storm," Blake said.

Fifty volunteers from O.C. Tanner worked through the day Wednesday during one of 10 planned harvesting activities between June and September. They gleaned sheaves of carpet, metal bathroom stalls, sinks and toilets.

Throughout the summer, volunteers from local businesses will gather doors, bathroom and light fixtures, crown and base molding, speakers, carpet and cabinets.

Exposed carpet padding inside the church covers maple wood, some of which will be used in the Hope Lodge, Blake said. Habitat for Humanity workers and volunteers will remove nails from leftover pieces of wood to either sell or use in other projects.

Habitat for Humanity's construction manager will then determine what materials will be used for homes and what will be used in the thrift store.

"We're working on a concept of abundance, not scarcity," Blake said.

Habitat for Humanity could not find a buyer for the copper steeple, so they will melt it down and sell the metal.

The Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity built seven homes in the 2012-13 fiscal year, five in 2012 and six in 2011. On Friday, it will complete construction on its 90th home in Salt Lake County since the nonprofit organization began operating in the Salt Lake area 25 years ago.

The LDS Church donated the 2.2-acre lot, worth $4.2 million, to the American Cancer Society for the Hope Lodge.

"We're pleased to contribute to this important project," LDS Church spokeswoman Ruth Todd said in an email. "The Hope Lodge will serve as a great comfort and support to those battling cancer away from home."

Pam Higginson, regional vice president for the American Cancer Society, became aware of Habitat for Humanity's need for materials and then pitched the idea to the ACS board, which approved the partnership.

The pairing has received national attention, Higginson said. The National Hope Lodge construction manager came from the Northeast U.S. to witness the work firsthand, she said.

"This is just a great model," Higginson said.

Although the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity have different goals, they were able to combine forces to work toward a common cause, she said.

Construction of the Hope Lodge is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2014, with completion set for spring of 2015, Higginson said.

It will be the first Hope Lodge to be built in the Intermountain West. It will include 42 suites and will lodge more than 800 patients annually from Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California and Wyoming.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com

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