“My roots are in Murray. My great grandparents settled here in the late 1800's. My grandfather Mauss was the first Town Marshall and second bishop of the old Murray Ward when it was finished and dedicated. My father and his two sisters were the first triplets born in Utah and were blessed there by Heber J. Grant in 1900. They were born on the kitchen table at our old family homestead at 365 E. Vine St. which is now the site of an LDS meetinghouse.
My father, Vinal Grant Mauss, married Ethel Lind who lived at 6227 S. 900 E. next to Wheeler Farm. During the great depression they moved to California where I was born. I eventually moved to Utah for school and work. When I retired, my wife and I decided to return to the "land of my fathers" in Murray where we plan to live out our years and re-establish the Mauss identity and presence here. We have purchased burial lots in the Murray Cemetery and our family has made a substantial donation to the Arboretum and Amphitheater in Murray Park.
I have lived in California, Japan, Boston, New York, Canada and Utah and have traveled throughout most of the United States and twenty different countries. When we decided to retire I felt like I had come home to Murray. It has a unique "home town" feeling where many residents have deep roots. I love being part of this community and the heritage I share with so many. I feel at home when I attend Church on what was the old Mauss homestead. Every time I drive by the old Murray First Ward, I feel a sense of pride that my family was a part of the history of that classic old building.
Progress may come and go but history doesn't. We need to protect our history and honor the identity of this small town oasis in the great Salt Lake Valley so that new residents can appreciate it's heritage and culture. This can be done by preserving some of the old monuments built by our pioneer ancestors such as The Murray Mansion, The old Murray Theater (where my father played the organ for silent movies) The old Murray First Ward building and Murray Park. Let's not let “progress” destroy our history and heritage.”
-Dr. Gordon E. Mauss
“I’ve never been to Europe, but I have friends who have shared with me their marvel at the old castles and other historic buildings in that part of the world. Imagine the loss if those magnificent structures had not been preserved! I’m not comparing the historic Murray First Ward building to medieval castles, but I believe the need to preserve our heritage is similar. When I see structures built by those of pioneer stock, such as the Murray First Ward building, I remember many of the sacrifices they made to begin building this beautiful city! In my mind’s eye, when I drive or walk past the historic Murray First Ward, I see echoes of those who came before and feel a deep appreciation for them. I recognize that my life is better because of their efforts. For me, it would be a sad thing to lose that reminder and the history the Murray First Ward building represents.”
“Murray was a desirable gathering and settling place for many different ethnicities, i.e. Greeks, Italians, Germans, and Armenians. As these groups located suitable housing within the Murray boundaries, the next most important building was a church. For Armenians, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the spiritual home, having already been converted to the church before immigration to the United States. One Armenian family in particular, the Sheranians, lived and worked in Murray. They were diligent, prosperous, and blessed to have survived the pogroms which annihilated most of their relatives left behind in the old country. The Murray First Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was an important reminder of the blessed circumstances the Sheranians found themselves in. Not only was the building that provided church members a place to worship, but also the major place of cultural activities. This building quickly assumed an important function and identity and this was not limited to minorities only. The Murray First Ward building became an identifiable icon in Murray through its distinct and important design and location. When one recalls what architectural elements historically defined Murray one thinks of the smelter and smoke stack, the laundry tower, and the Murray First Ward. If the historic Murray First Ward building were to be demolished, Murray will have lost two thirds of its architectural identity. It is true that the original purpose of a structure can change, but this should not condemn it to destruction. Due to advances in structural rehabilitation technology, not to mention enlightened attitudes toward historic building conservation and preservation, the Murray First Ward building can find a new purpose and function. It is extremely important to preserve the Murray First Ward building as a symbol of what made Murray the unique and desirable place it still is today.”
-Michael Judd Sheranian
My parents were members of the Church when I was young, but they were inactive, and neither I nor my two older brothers had been baptized. I attended Arlington Elementary School which was located on State Street at about 5000 South in Murray, and the Murray First Ward on Vine Street at about 200 East. The parking lot to the rear of the ward bordered the back of the school so it was very convenient for LDS kids to walk over to the church for Primary each Tuesday afternoon after school.
I was confirmed a member of the LDS church by Bishop Alma Crane who was also Principal of Bonnyview Elementary School in Murray. (About sixteen years later our lives crossed again when I succeeded Brother Crane as Principal of that school). A little over three months later, Bishop Crane conferred upon me the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained me a Deacon. The Deacon’s adviser at that time was Jess Casper who was the husband of my cousin, Merle Hobbs. They lived in a basement apartment in the home of her parents, my Uncle Ed and Aunt Irene Hobbs at 487 East Vine Street. We had several quorum socials in that home and had some great times.
We had some great members of our quorum, including my old friends Doug Allen and Bob Born, and my new ones, Glen Tuckett, Carl Erickson, Hal Marsden, and Ken Westover. As I got to know them better in both church and school, my circle of friends changed dramatically.
Sometime during my tenure as a deacon, the Murray First Ward was divided, and I and most of my close friends became part of the new Murray ward with Dr. Warren Wright, a local dentist, as Bishop who ordained me a teacher on January 17, 1943. We continued to share the same building with Murray First Ward on alternate schedules until the new Third Ward building was completed.
Today the building that housed the Murray First Ward is vacant. It came near to being destroyed to make way for commercial development except for the efforts of a group of citizens who recognized its historical significance and envisioned the possibility of restoring it and converting it into an appropriate monument to the city’s past. Such a movement is currently underway, and I offer my personal best wishes and support.