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Artwork of the Week

Artwork of the Week: January 2, 2023

New Year's Eve 1862 - Old Salt Theater

Brigham Young firmly believed that the saints “must have amusement as well as religion.” Thus, he announced that a theater would be built in Salt Lake City. The theater was controversial being that the temple was still under construction, but Brigham Young was firm in his conviction, and the playhouse was dedicated in 1862. Though the building was quite small, 80 feet wide and less than 200 feet long, it appears grand in Lee Greene Richards’ painting against the backdrop of the majestic mountains. When this was painted, the theater was bankrupt and on the verge of being demolished; however, Richards instead focuses on a winter night shortly after the playhouse opened. About 1,500 people could fill this hall, paying 50-75 cents for tickets or consumables in exchange. While the cold of this New Year’s Eve is evidenced through the heavy layers of snow, a warm glow emanates from the Greek Revival structure.