By SARAH DAVIS
The Lion House has become one of Salt Lake City’s most popular places for meetings, dinners and receptions since its humble beginning as the home of Brigham Young.
In the 1800s the Lion House served as a reception hall for many great men of the world, an office where plans were discussed that helped determine the future of the struggling Utah territory and a home to the Young family, according to a Lion House brochure.
Today, the Lion House serves many purposes. Not only for Salt Lake residents, but businesses, families and tourists alike seek the historic and elegant atmosphere the home provides.
“It is for luncheons, business meetings, wedding breakfasts, receptions, birthday parties for children and there is a cafeteria in the basement,” said Ann Jensen, a Lion House employee.
The Lion House was designed in 1855 by Trumon O. Angell, the same architect who designed the Salt Lake Temple.
Much of the furniture in the house was made by Brigham Young. He used dark hardwood packing boxes from the East to make the fine furniture in the home, said Carol Bitner, an employee at the Beehive House, the home next door to the Lion House.
“After many years of serving the community, by the early 1960s the Lion House needed extensive renovating. It was closed in 1963 for a period of five years while restorative work was accomplished,” according to a Lion House brochure.
“We serve 400 to 500 (daily) in the summer and 300 in the winter,” Jensen said.
Scheduling the Lion House has become a race for many newly engaged couples and families wanting special Christmas dinners.
“We book Christmas dinners one year in advance,” said Jensen.
People don’t get engaged that far in advance, so a few months is usually necessary to schedule receptions, Jensen said.
There are rooms of various sizes for receptions, meetings and family dinners.
“One unique facility is the children’s party room where mothers may bring their children for special occasions, such as birthdays,” according to a Lion House brochure.
Melanie Forbush, 12, a Farmington resident, decided to have her birthday party at the Lion House because of the celebration of the sesquicentennial.”I kind of wanted something different. I usually would go swimming, but I wanted something like the pioneers and because it was the centennial.”
The Lion House was a perfect pick for a pioneer birthday.
“I liked when we first got there we waited in this big room,” Forbush said. “We got to dress up in hats and shawls they wore back then and they took pictures of us.”
This was also a special place for the 12th birthday of Forbush because the Lion House was the founding place for the Young Women Organization.