1929 Mural to Saved From Demolition in Building Remodel in Idaho


While I was planning the work for the art conservation treatments of the murals in the Idaho Falls Mormon temple, I was asked by the LDS History Dept. to get info on a mural in a removed hillside town outside of Preston, Idaho. So, while we were returning to Salt Lake City after we were done in IF, we “stopped by” this cute old out of the way chapel to see if a safe removal was possible. You’ve heard about the “wide open spaces”? Well, this countryside is “it.”

The town is called Mink Creek (pronounced Crik) and the plan is to enlarge the chapel to seat more members during the meetings. The wall to be knocked down is the one with the mural on it. BUT, the plan is to mount the removed mural to another wall in the building. Here’s what the chapel looks like from the pulpit:

1929 mural in chapel of Mink Creek, Idaho

Mink Creek - Preston, Idaho LDS Chapel, with mural painted by H. Helgeson in 1929

1929 Mural of Temple Square, Salt Lake City

1929 Mural of Temple Square

The story that was told me was that the artist, H. Helgeson, had emigrated from Norway 5 years earlier. He painted several murals and other pictures in the chapel. He also painted murals in other buildings in the area and was in Idaho Falls doing a mural where he was mistaken by a policeman for a person he was pursuing and shot the artist dead.

My evaluation is that the mural can be removed safely (with proper pre-caustions), cleaned and be reinstalled in the building with a good long term prognosis for longevity and good condition.

It was a beautiful trip but what else would you expect in June? Its in January when you have to deal with 6 feet of snow during a normal winter!

You would have never heard about or seen this nice mural in Mink Creek if you were not in touch with this blog. I am pleased to let you in on this inside information. Please pass this URL along to others and be sure to sign up for auto updates in the side bar.

To learn more about what you can do to take care, protect and save your collectibles, memorabilia, family history, artwork AND help raise money for the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, go to http://pioneerartrestoration.com/dup-special/

Art conservation questions? Call Scott Haskins 805 564 3438

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Scott Haskins, art conservation, mural restoration, LDS vintage art, mural to be saved, saving historic art

About Scott Haskins

Scott M. Haskins has been in the field of professional art conservation since 1975. He studied and worked doing mural and painting conservation in Italy until 1979. He headed up the painting conservation laboratory at Brigham Young University for the BYU Permanent Art Collection and the LDS HIstorical Department until 1984. He works from Santa Barbara, CA providing art conservation services nationwide. He is also the author of "How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster."
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12 Responses to 1929 Mural to Saved From Demolition in Building Remodel in Idaho

  1. Nate Olson says:

    I grew up seeing this mural every Sunday and Tuesday. My father was Bishop there for a number of years. And my brother was Bishop at the time of renovation of the building. The mural was at the front behind the podium at the east end of the chapel, and is still in it’s original location. Only now the benches have been turned around and so now the mural is in the back of the Chapel. So speakers now look over the heads of the attendees at the mural. There were many other paintings and murals in the building that I would have considered better art. Some still remain others are gone. Most of the painting and art in the Chapel has been painted over. The Recreation Hall still has some of the original painting. I think the painting in the Old Relief Society room is still there, The painting in the old Bishops office is gone, Perhaps to Salt Lake or BYU. The large Painted canvases used on the Stage in the Recreation Hall are gone. Who knows where, perhaps in a Mink Creek barn or some garage. Finding these would be a real quest for some Church Art Historian/Detective.

    The Mink Creek building was considered very elaborate for it’s day. I remember the man who was Bishop ( William E. Crane) saying that President Heber J. Grant, had admonished him on the excessive cost of the building during it’s construction. Bishop Crane had been in Salt Lake to talk with the Brethern about more money to complete the project. When President Grant saw Bishop Crane approaching him on South Temple street in front of the Church offices he initially tried to avoid Bishop Crane, but then met with him.

    I don’t think there are any members that were alive during initial construction of the building still around. However there are a few who still remember them and their stories. This building is still a point of pride in the community; even the “Comers”, those who have moved to Mink Creek in the last forty or fifty years, take pride in the Building, However most of them will know little of the history. I grew up here, and now after 50 years away, I and my wife are living here. I have moved back to the home build by my great-grand parents in 1890, after being gone and living all around the United States and several countries over-seas. Mink Creek is truly a “Mormon” story and continues to reflect the Church’s cultural, economic and social trends as it has over the years. If you have human understanding and some back ground knowledge it is a delightful place to live. You too could become a “Comer”.

  2. Nathan says:

    Ah, but I have seen that mural. Going to church in Grandma’s ward. Glad it can be preserved.

  3. Lydia says:

    My dad was bishop during the last remodel of this chapel years and years ago when I was a little girl. The mural used to be the front of the chapel. I remember that trying to keep it was a big deal even though artwork in chapels was unheard of and went against the norm.

  4. Jeff Olson says:

    I am from Mink Crick (my spelling is correct for this neck of the woods) and I grew up with the mural behind the pulpit. I’ve looked at it for hours. I thought the artist was C.C. Christiansen not Helgeson. But I may be wrong. I am from Idaho.

  5. Bruce says:

    My mother grew up in Mink Creek, and I have always loved that chapel. I’m so glad that mural is being preserved.

    • Scott Haskins says:

      Thanks for leaving your comment Bruce. I haven’t heard that there is a plan in motion for modifications to the building right now so I don’t think the mural is at risk. I’m pretty sure though that if there is approval for the building that all efforts will be made to save the murals.

  6. Eric says:

    I had no idea that was in Mink Creek!

  7. Jenny says:

    What an amazing mural. I am so glad that it will be preserved.

  8. hannah says:

    What a great removal and restoration project, let us know how it goes!

  9. Bill Hanson says:

    It’s rare to see the time and intricacy that was once put forth to paint these murals. Great and informative post, keep us posted on the project

  10. Ryan Ridgway says:

    What a great project! Be careful please ;) I’m sure you know what your doing though when it comes to fine art conservation haha

  11. Lynette Mills says:

    Great story Scott … I love seeing church art from places I will probably never go. Thanks again for sharing.

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