Lewis Building–Brigham Young Academy’s first home

The first home of the Brigham Young Academy was the Lewis Building. The J. W. Lewis Store was built in 1867 and was soon purchased by Brigham Young. The Lewis Building was a brick building located in downtown Provo. When Brigham Young executed the deed of trust establishing Brigham Young Academy he stipulated that the school be held in the Lewis building. Due to repairs that were being made on the old building, the new school’s opening was delayed until January 3rd, 1876.

Lewis Building, ca. 1879

Lewis Building, ca. 1879

The Lewis Building served as the home of Brigham Young Academy from 1876 until January 1884 when it was destroyed by fire.

The fire ravaged Lewis Building, 1884

The fire ravaged Lewis Building, 1884

The destruction of the Lewis Building initiated a period of homelessness for the Brigham Young Academy which lasted for eight years. The Academy held classes in a variety of buildings throughout Provo until the Education Building was completed in 1892. The Brigham Young University Archives holds a few collections that document the fire that destroyed the Lewis Building as well as images of the building before its destruction. They include:

  • UA 521 Lars Echert Eggertsen letter, 1884. This letter describes the fire that burned the Lewis building.
  • UA 179 Aretta Young’s “On the burning of the Brigham Young Academy at Provo, 1884.” This collection includes a letter to Evanda Young in the form of a poem describing the burning of the Lewis Building in January 1884.
  • UAP2 1000 views of 100 years photo collection. This collection contains images of the Lewis Building before the fire and after the fire.
  • UA 823 College of Biology and Agriculture photographs, [ca. 1880s-1960s]. This collection contains a photograph of the Lewis Building.

If you would like to learn more about the early homes of the Brigham Young Academy, please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu.

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