My husband and I graduated from Utah State University. While we were students there, three LDS Church buildings housed USU student wards: the institute building; the building with the gold dome roof across from the USU Fine Arts Center; and the church building across the street from the David O. McKay Student Living Center, which, at the time, was student housing owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My husband, Johnson Smith, was the Latter-day Saint Student Association president during the 1969-70 school year. This organization represented LDS students at the university. In a priesthood correlation meeting with USU Stake President Reed H. Bullen, Logan LDS Institute Director Dan Workman and LDSSA adviser Wayne May, my husband was discussing plans and activities that were on the agenda at the different church buildings.
Johnson mentioned that the dome of the church with the gold roof reminded him of his grandmother’s toaster. Her old-fashioned toaster had sides that dropped down and the bread was placed inside. The sides were then brought back up for the toasting process. For those of you that remember, or have seen such a toaster, you will remember that the sides in their upright position, slanted slight inward.
Everyone in the meeting could easily visualize this concept. The roof with its slightly slanted sides did indeed look like a golden toaster.
For the rest of the school year, in LDSSA executive and council meetings, this church building was referred to as the Golden Toaster, and the name quickly caught on.
Through the years, we have fondly heard about the Golden Toaster. Our children, while attending USU, would call our home in Arkansas and say, “Dad, they are still calling the church building the Golden Toaster.”
They would proudly relate how they would tell the person who referred to the Golden Toaster the story behind it and that their dad was the person who came up with the comparison and the name.
Several years ago, we first began looking for homes in the Logan area knowing someday we wanted to come back. Our realtor patiently showed us a number of houses. I wanted to see if the Golden Toaster was as well-known as I had heard. So I not-so-innocently asked if there were any homes for sale by the church across from the fine arts center. Without skipping a beat, our realtor said, “Oh, you mean the Golden Toaster.”
Soon after this, we were visiting with a freshman just beginning fall semester. It was Sunday and she had just returned from church. We asked which building she attended. She responded by saying “The Golden Toaster.” She then remarked that she and her roommate stood outside the building asking each other why it was called such an unusual name. We happily told her “the rest of the story.”
While Johnson and I attended the majority of our church meetings in the building across from the McKay Student Living Center, we often were in attendance at firesides, dances and other events held at the Golden Toaster.
It is fun to reflect upon these special memories and know that simple story of a grandmother’s toaster — an illustration made so long ago — has added to not only our own personal family legacy, but to that of this beautiful valley, too.
Editor's note: The Golden Toaster chapel was scheduled to be given to Utah State University as part of a land swap in 2011.
Rhea Smith lives in Logan.