A 110-year-old building in Salt Lake City has been transformed into a place for music and dance to intersect, thanks to more than $40,000 in donations from community members, the Home Depot Foundation and Underfoot Floors.
Formerly a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the E.W. Garbett Center for Choral Music, located at 700 N. 200 West, has been home to the Salt Lake Choral Artists for the past five years, and now the choir has opened its doors to several local dance groups.
“It’s a beautiful building and we’re excited to have it improved and being able to be used in more ways than just our choir,” said Roger Kennard, Garbett Center facilities manager and Salt Lake Choral Artists treasurer, in an interview with the Deseret News.
“This is really going to be a lively space that allows multiple dance groups to have an opportunity to have an affordable space for what they do,” said Julianne Basinger, a member of Wasatch Tango Club.
Built in 1907, the Garbett Center was originally the 24th Ward Chapel, a place where members of the LDS Church — including E.W. Garbett, the man who the building is named after — would gather for worship services and social gatherings.
“This was the community center for this area for about half a century,” Kennard said.
After some time, the LDS Church no longer needed the building and sold it and, over the next decades, it housed a daycare, then an architect’s office, or, at times, was vacant.
Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Choral Artists didn’t have a permanent home in which to meet. Jan Garbett, wife of Bryson Garbett, president and CEO of Garbett Homes, had sung with the choir and been a member of its board of directors, and so the Garbetts came up with a plan. They decided to turn the old church building where Bryson Garbett’s father, E.W. Garbett, had gone to church into the choir’s permanent space.
“She always had a dream of the choir having its own home,” Kennard said.
He said the couple offered a matching grant of $500,000 to help the choir buy the building, and the choir moved into the building in 2012.
Since moving into the Garbett Center, SLCA has often rented out a small space in the basement to local social dance groups, including Salt Lake Scandi Dance, Wasatch Contras and Wasatch Tango Club. With the three dance groups looking for a more permanent space to host events and the choir seeking ways to get more use out of the building, the dance groups decided to raise money to install a large hardwood floor in what was originally the building’s chapel.
“For 40 years, we sang in borrowed space and frequently got bumped if there was another activity in the school or in the church,” Kennard said. “We were low on the priority list, so we understand how groups struggle to have a consistent place.”
After raising $14,000 through individual donations, the dance groups still needed more help to make the project happen. Members of the groups turned to Underfoot Floors and Home Depot to make up the difference.
The Home Depot Foundation, which seeks to help improve the lives of military veterans, according to its website, donated $20,000 in materials for the Garbett project.
“(The groups have) a lot of veterans involved, so whenever we have a chance to improve the quality of life or help a veteran, Home Depot spends its resources and monies to help,” said Marty Tanner, Home Depot district manager for Utah and Wyoming.
Locally owned and operated Underfoot Floors then donated $7,000 in labor to install the floors.
“Part of Underfoot’s mission and purpose is to contribute and be a benefit to the whole community,” said Eric Cole, owner of Underfoot Floors. “We’re not just all about making a profit, although that’s important too.”
The donations allowed for not only a 2,150-square-foot hardwood floor upstairs but also for an expanded floor in the basement.
“So we have two brand new, wonderful dance floors — one is smaller and more intimate, and one is big enough for a crowd,” Kennard said. “Without (Underfoot Flooring and Home Depot’s) help, it wouldn’t have happened, and with their help, it’s spectacular.”