Wrecking crew with no permit bulldozes historic building on Easter, Utah officials say

A wrecking crew destroyed part of the historic Fifth Ward Meetinghouse building on Easter Sunday in Salt Lake City, Utah, then city officials stepped in.

Built in 1910, the stately brick building was used as a chapel and gathering place for generations.

City officials did not disclose why the building was being torn down.

Although the city has lost other historic buildings in recent years, according to Building Salt Lake, the meetinghouse was not supposed to be one of them. City officials said the demolition was illegal.

“The destruction of the Fifth Ward Meetinghouse is not only illegal, it is unconscionable,” councilmember Chris Wharton said in a post on Facebook.

“Don’t try to demolish historic buildings without permits,” Nick Norris, director of Salt Lake City’s planning division, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to Norris, two city planners got wind of what was happening and stopped the demolition. The wrecking crew told the city planners that they had a permit for the job. Norris said they didn’t.

“They took off,” Norris said. “Police were called. This property owner knows the rules for demolishing a historic building.”

The stop work order was issued to Jordan Atkin, founder of TAG SLC investment firm. Atkin told Building Salt Lake that neither he nor his firm own the property, but he does manage it.

McClatchy News reached out to TAG SLC for comment April 1 and did not immediately hear back.

“Thank you to the City staff that caught this shameful and illegal demolition before it was too late,” Blake Thomas, Salt Lake City’s director of community and neighborhoods, posted on X.

Though plenty of damage was done. Photos posted by Norris show a mountain of bricks and broken wood heaped in front of the meetinghouse with a massive gash in the facade exposing the interior of the building.

Wharton says he is working with city hall to gather information and impose penalties for the violation.

“We must use this situation to reevaluate how we can provide greater protection for historic buildings and sites,” he said. “Historic preservation is vital to our sense of place and overall quality of life. It helps define who we are as a community and that is what I will always continue to fight for.”

Store construction destroys 7,000-year-old structures in France — what went wrong?

‘Move, Move!’ Hawaii beachgoers scatter as ‘posh’ hotel’s railing falls from above

800-year-old toy unearthed after firehouse demolition. See it and other treasures