When Eugene and Afton Zollinger of Logan pulled up to the renovated Inn at Temple Square last week, they began a flashback of more than 50 years.
In 1939 when Adolf Hitler occupied Poland and the clouds of the Great Depression still loomed over America, the Zollingers were married in the Logan LDS Temple. Afterward, they spent their wedding night at the hotel - then called the Temple Square Hotel.On Oct. 12, as a gift from their children for their 50th wedding anniversary, the Zollingers returned to the hotel - this time to relive the long-cherished memories.
Bedecked in the same hat he wore on his wedding day, Eugene, 87, escorted Afton, 74, from the antique Ford owned by their son, Rex. Walking arm-in-arm and accompanied by five of their six children, the couple entered the hotel lobby they had not visited since their wedding day. They checked in, just as they had done more than 50 years ago.
When the Zollinger children heard in the fall of 1988 that the Temple Square Hotel was to undergo a complete renovation and would emerge as a European-style inn, they began their plans for a special 50th wedding anniversary gift for their parents.
The grand celebration finally came together last week - less than two weeks after the completion of the hotel renovation.
Unquestionably, the Zollingers found things much different than they were 50 years ago.
At the time of their marriage, money was scarce so the Zollingers didn't have a photographer at their wedding, and Afton sewed her own wedding dress for just $3. After returning to Salt Lake City from a weeklong honeymoon in California, the couple spent the last remaining $10 from the $100 they had set aside for their trip.
Their wedding night hotel, built in 1929 at the onset of the Depression, originally had 190 rooms. It now offers 90 large guest rooms, five bridal or executive suites, five parlor suites and connecting bedrooms, mezzanine library and country inn-style restaurant.
To say the least, in 50 years both the hotel and the Zollingers have seen some major changes.
After their marriage, the Zollingers pursued dry farming in Cache Valley, a career Eugene continued until his retirement in 1979. The couple now enjoy making oak furniture for their six children and 26 grandchildren. Eugene manufactures the pieces in his wood shop and Afton fashions needlepoint adornments for his many fine furniture creations.