Abravanel Concert Hall

Abravanel hall (known prior to 1993 as symphony hall) is situated on property originally owned by President Wilford Woodruff. Businesses and various buildings occupied this site until 1972, when the construction of Symphony Hall was proposed as a part of a Bicentennial Arts Center Complex. Serving as a home for the Utah Symphony and located in the heart of the city, this structure conveys how important music is to Utah residents. The 2,811-seat hall was completed in time for the 1979–80 concert season.



Abravanel Hall displays magnificent architectural design. Adorning the interior is more than 12,000 square feet of twenty-four-karat gold leaf and one mile of brass railing. Such breathtaking design enhances the beauty of the melodious strains wafting in the air during the symphony’s performances. It was renamed in honor of Utah Symphony maestro Maurice Abravanel, who conducted the symphony for more than three decades.

Wilford Woodruff (center) served as President of the Church for nine years (1889–98). Shown here with him are his counselors in the First Presidency, George Q. Cannon (left) and Joseph F. Smith (right). Utah State Historical Society

Wilford was born at Avon, Connecticut, on March 1, 1807, and was baptized at Richland, New York, on December 31, 1833. After serving several successful missions, he was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 26, 1839. His first assignment was to serve a mission in Great Britain. On his way to Britain, he became overcome with fatigue from an illness contracted along the Mississippi River. He records that while lying on the ground by a post office in Illinois, “Brother Joseph, the Prophet of God, came along and looked at me. ‘Well, Brother Woodruff,’ said he, ‘you have started upon your mission.’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘but I feel and look more like a subject for the dissecting room than a missionary.’ Joseph replied: ‘What did you say that for? Get up, and go along; all will be right with you.’” Elder Woodruff found great success on his mission. Within eight months, he brought more than eighteen hundred souls into the Church.

Wilford Woodruff loved to fish. While journeying with the Vanguard Pioneer Company he was the first in the West, to fish with artificial flies. His fishing pole has been displayed in the Church History Museum. He entered the Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young on July 24, 1847. Forty-six years later, as President of the Church, he dedicated the Salt Lake Temple, April 6, 1893.

Wilford was a meticulous journal writer who recorded many important events in Church history as well as several of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s sermons. David M. Whitchurch

This early inn sat on the original homesite of Wilford Woodruff. C. R. Savage courtesy of Richard K. Winters