Historic Islamic Center seeks grant funding for structural repairsDec 10, 2020 10:06AM ● By Carl Fauver
Hassan Mardanlou teaches Sunday School in the basement of the historic Islamic Center in Taylorsville. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Utah had still not yet become our country’s 45th state when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints completed construction of a wardhouse on what is now 4800 South. The building was completed in 1894, just 17 years after the passing of Brigham Young, while statehood would not arrive until 1896.
Since then, the building has undergone a couple of renovations and a few ownership changes. And now the Taylorsville Historic Preservation Committee is working to assist the current owners in securing grant funding to make some much-needed repairs to the 126-year-old building.
Since 2008, the site has been owned and operated as the Al-rasool Islamic Center (1247 West 4800 South).
“My primary concern is that the building be preserved, because so many of our old buildings are coming down,” said Preservation Committee Chairwoman Susan Yadeskie. “And now that I have come to know this special group of people (members of the Islamic faith who operate the center), they have come to mean a lot to me. So, we are happy to help them any way we can.”
Initially the Islamic Center was able to secure a $10,000 grant, which was used primarily to hire CRSA Architecture in Salt Lake to thoroughly inspect the aging building, to determine what improvements are necessary. Their report found, it could cost as much as $900,000 to complete the necessary repairs.
Islamic Center Sunday school teacher Hassan Mardanlou immigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1970s. He’s now serving on the group that’s attempting to secure grant funding. They have their sights set on a “Lilly grant.”
According to the organization’s website (Lillyendowment.org), “Lilly Endowment Inc. was founded in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. for the promotion and support of religious, educational or charitable purposes. Throughout its history, the Endowment has sought to nurture the human spirit, intellect and character.”
After pulling together all of the required documentation, the Islamic Center submitted a formal application for grant funding to Lilly Endowment Inc. earlier this year. In October, the group received back from Lilly the proverbial “good news, bad news.”
“Lilly denied our grant but also encouraged us to try again,” Mardanlou said. “They told us we came very close to receiving the money. So, we are now trying to put together more information to apply again. We’re about 50/50 confident we will get the grant next time.”
However, Mardanlou also explained the Lilly Endowment requires a funding match from other sources. In short, to earn the $300,000 grant they are seeking from Lilly, the Islamic Center will have to show it has secured financial pledges from other organizations totaling $600,000.
“There are a lot of places we can look for the matching $600,000,” Mardanlou added. “We can seek it from charitable organizations or individual people. We have two years to raise that money.”
Also assisting the group in putting together grant request information is Taylorsville City Councilman Curt Cochran, through his role as the council’s liaison to the Historic Preservation Committee.
“My interest is in helping the Islamic Center to educate the community about what they do,” Cochran said. “They were interested in hosting a community street fair before COVID-19 arrived, and I am sure they will look at it again [after the pandemic is resolved]. I like having the center in our community because it opens people’s eyes to other cultures. Outside Utah there is this preconceived notion we are not diverse here, when really we are.”
Islamic Center officials say the grant would fund a wide variety of repairs inside and outside their historic structure. Various problems due to general aging have arisen for years. Also, the Magna-centered 5.7 magnitude earthquake last March added to the growing list of building’s ailments.
Historic Preservation Committee Chairwoman Yadeskie is excited to be helping with the effort to secure funding, because the building is near and dear to her heart.
“I attended church in that building back before I graduated from high school (in 1971), she said. “I had so many wonderful flashbacks when I recently toured the building. All of those childhood memories brought tears to my eyes.”