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Payson Presbyterian an anchor of the Payson Historic District

May 19, 2019 08:23AM

This article is part of a series on religious buildings in South Utah County.

Built in 1882, the Payson Presbyterian Church on 160 S. Main Street is one of the oldest structures still standing in the community. It was used as both a church and a school from the time of its dedication until 1910, when it began being used only for worship services.

With its weathered brick and wooden trimming, the church helps make up the Payson Historic District, which stretches from 500 North and 300 East to 500 South and 400 West. This district boasts unique and memorable structures, such as the Simons Block building and the Romanesque-style John Dixon House.

Now privately owned, the structure stopped servicing the Presbyterian community when it was purchased by the United Missionary Fellowship in 1971.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Built during a time of great missionary effort of the Protestants among the Mormons (from the 1870s to the 1890s), this classic building follows the strictures of Gothic Revival. It was built ten years before the Springville Community Presbyterian Church—the first subject highlighted in this series on religious buildings in South Utah County.

More simplistic in its design, the Payson Presbyterian Church doesn’t have the Springville structure’s quatrefoils and cloverleaf adornments.

Even though it lacks some of the refinements of other buildings of its time, it is still considered an example of Gothic Revival because of its steeply pitched gables and decorative tracings around the pointed windows. The finial-topped bell tower is accented with scalloped shingles and a weather vane.

A 2010 article published in the Deseret News gives a brief history of the Presbyterian Church in Utah, explaining that, opposite of what was usually done—building a church first, followed by a school, Payson and other growing communities built the schools before the nearby churches.

The article also explains the growth of the church in the state of Utah at that time. “By 1884, Presbyterians in Utah had 13 ministers and churches, 383 members and 1,914 students. By 1890, that grew to 15 churches and 661 members; by 1900 there were 25 churches and 1,336 members.”

The Payson Presbyterian Church is crumbling and quaint, and still has an elegant charm that almost begs for its much-needed restoration.