First Unitarian Church began on February 24, 1891. Inspired by a visit from Unitarian minister Samuel Atkins Eliot of Denver three months before, the charter of a new First Unitarian Society of Salt Lake City took root. Through hard times and prosperity, this church has continued to provide a place where people in Utah could freely express their doubts as well as their beliefs — a fellowship of seekers and a church for the “unchurched.” In 1927 the present chapel was constructed at the corner of 600 South and 1300 East, striking in its Georgian Colonial architecture and suitably representative of Unitarianism’s New England heritage.
Through the many decades of our presence along the Wasatch Front, myriad causes often unpopular in the larger Utah community, dot the church’s history. First Unitarian Church endorsed symbolic sanctuary for draft resisters during the Vietnam era, and the local Planned Parenthood clinic had its start in Eliot Hall. First Unitarian Church sponsored along with three other congregations the building of Friendship Manor, Salt Lake’s first retirement high-rise. We also provided a space for the fledgling Salt Lake Acting Company.
Social Justice concerns occupied the congregation during the closing decades of the 20th century, focusing on nuclear disarmament, world peace, women’s issues, the GLBT community, and feeding the homeless. More recently, First Unitarian Church has partnered with Mountain View Elementary School and works closely with the International Rescue Committee in settling the huge influx of refugees. First Unitarian Church is recognized today throughout the community as an outspoken institutional force committed to safeguarding the rights of all people, defending free speech throughout the community, and working diligently for a world at peace.