Congregation Brith Sholem
Architecture & Artifacts
2750 Grant Ave, Ogden, Utah
Congregation Birth Sholem is the oldest, continuously active Jewish synagogue in Utah. A comprehensive illustrated history of the congregation was compiled in 2021 by Utah State University in a fabulous digital exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary and includes a broad historical overview of the synagogue, the religious education program, and biographical information about seven in-house rabbis as well as various Congregation Brith Sholem members. The archival materials used include primary sources from University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Digital Library, Utah Digital Newspaper Project, Utah State University Special Collections & Archives, Weber State University Archives, and archives from Congregation Brith Sholem (newspaper articles, advertisements, correspondence, invitations, meeting minutes, newsletters, photographs, maps, and directories).
"On August 21, 1921, over 2,000 people of various denominations gathered at 2750 Grant Avenue between Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Eighth Streets in Ogden, Utah, to witness the laying of the cornerstone for Congregation Brith Sholem. Former Governor Simon Bamberger, the first Jewish governor of Utah, gave the principal address followed by speeches from Mayor Frank Francis and other prominent members and church leaders of the area.
“Ogden Synagogue Cornerstone Laid,” Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), August 22, 1921.
Wood cellar door is a solid mortise and tenon construction.
Original wood window casings.
Arthur Stone’s niece, Mary Hutchens, recorded that her Uncle Art toured her through his house in about 1869; she said that it was the first house in that part of the county with a cellar underneath. She recalled that she “didn’t like the idea of a cellar under the house," and she said, “I don’t like this. Aren’t you afraid it will cave in with all those rocks over us? I wouldn’t like to come down here very often.” Her Uncle Art laughed and said that it couldn’t cave in, as the foundation of the house was also the sides of the cellar.”
It is interesting to note that there were two other houses with cellars in Bingham’s Fort in the 1860s, and all the owners of these houses were from England. In addition to Art’s cellar there was his brother Edward’s log cabin with a cellar and his neighbor William Gillson’s lean-to with a cellar.
Arthur (Art) William Stone was born in Berkshire England in 1841 to William and Mary Cruse Stone. He converted to the Mormon faith and was 13 years old when he arrived in Bingham’s Fort with his family. His father established a farm on 2nd Street and built a log cabin for their first residence in Utah.
At age 20 Art married Sarah Yeaman, and in about 1863 he built a rubble rock house fronting a 37-acre farm on the south side of Bingham’s Lane (2nd Street). In building the house he joined forces with his father, brothers and neighbors, and they built a style of sturdy rock house that was familiar to them in England with a cellar and an upper half story. At this time log and adobe houses were far more numerous than any other type of house on 2nd Street; this was meant to be a very permanent, long lasting house.
By 1870 there were about ten houses on each side of the road between Five Points and the railroad track, and there were about the same number on Washington Avenue which was then called Main Street. Most of the houses were made of log or adobe.
Art was a farmer and an early violinist in Weber County playing at community dances .
He was interested in the Indian culture and facilitated friendship with the Shoshones. He sometimes brought Indians to the settlers’ dances and taught them to dance English style; the Indians regarded him as a peer instead of a fatherly friend and benefactor.
His niece recorded:
"Uncle Art was a great favorite with the young Indians. On Sunday, when there was never any work in the fields, her uncle would be surrounded by a group of Indian bucks, and he participated in their games of all kinds. Sometimes it was riding horses, and her Uncle Art had a wonderful riding horse; the saddle and bridle trappings were ornamented or embroidered beautifully with Indian handwork. He had a wonderful suit of buckskin too with leggings, moccasins, etc. to match; everything seemed to be as nice as the greatest chiefs’ sons. The Indians seemed to admire him greatly. She saw his face painted like the Indians’ faces as he joined them in their games."
Following the building and arrival of the railroad in 1869, many social and political changes came to Ogden and Weber County. Accompanying the railroad crews were merchants setting up saloons and other stores and large numbers of prostitutes. Railroad workers made liquor available to the Indians with devastating consequences to those who could not resist it. Church authorities advised members not to patronize merchants who were eager to take the Mormon’s money while the same merchants signed petitions to Congress demanding that statehood to Utah Territory be denied because of polygamy and related issues. In response to the non-Mormons the Mormons formed economic cooperatives, particularly ZCMI, to control economic and social impacts of the railroad.
Art’s wife Sarah was upset when he made purchases at a mercantile store other than ZCMI. Also she did not like him playing at dances on Saturday night returning in the wee hours of Sunday morning too tired to attend church meetings. These things were sorely against her religion, and in 1872 she walked out of their marriage leaving Art with three young children, the youngest a baby of several months; she entered a polygamous marriage as the third wife of Daniel Francis Thomas. Art with the help of his siblings raised his children until 1876 when he was killed in a buggy racing accident at the mouth of Weber Canyon. At that time Art’s brothers and sisters took his children into their homes.
In 1874, Art Stone sold the rubble rock house and 37-acre farm to Alexander Brown. Alex and his brother Jesse Brown were the first Mormon settlers to Weber County, sent by their father in 1848 to take possession of the property purchased from Miles Goodyear.
Jesse Brown purchased the farm west of Alexander’s as 2nd Street was considered a choice place for farmers and home builders. Alexander and Jesse and their wives grew old together on 2nd Street. Alex and Jesse entertained the boys of the neighborhood with tales of real adventure that happened when they accompanied the Mormon battalion along the old Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico. Together Alex and Jesse led the Lynne pioneer parade on the 24th of July and gave talks around the county on the early settlement of Weber County.
The rubble rock house has been well preserved and is a classic example of a hall-parlor house reflecting Art Stone’s cultural affiliation with England. The builder of the 1911 bungalow is unknown, but Henry and Genevieve Kelly James purchased the house and 37-acre farm in 1923, and the house remained in the James family for 72 years until 1995 when it was purchased by the Creeger family. In 2008 Ogden City’s Heritage School was built on a portion of the James’ family farm.
 Thomas Carter and Peter Goss, Utah’s Historic Architecture, 1847-1940, Utah State Historical Society, 1988, p.14.
Dorothy Sherner and Laura ShernerWelker, Mary Elizabeth- Her Stories, manuscript, 1933, p.38.
 Fred N. Stone, A Reminiscent History of the Lynne Ward, 1934, manuscript, p. 2.
 Editor Milton R.Hunter, Beneath Ben Lomond’s Peak, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1944, p. 139.
 Sherner and Welker, Mary Elizabeth-Her Stories, p. 2.
 Richard C. Roberts and Richard W. Sadler, A History of Weber County, 1997, Utah State Historical Society and Weber County Commission, p. 133, 134; Jay G. Burrup, Church History Specialist, LDS Church History Library, letter, 9-15-10.
 Interview Edna Kent Stone by Macel Stone Montgomery, manuscript, c. 1965; Dixie Summers Botsford, A Short History of Arthur W. Stone and Sarah Ann Yeaman, manuscript, p.2.
 The Lemon Survey shows that this farm was composed of two free land claims of 20 acres each that were first claimed by Erastus Bingham in 1851.
 Standard Examiner, Bingham’s Fort, Built To Guard Against Indians, Is Remembered By Subscriber, George Pierce, 1934.
 Interview with Marjorie James, March 21, 2007.