September 11, 2009
I arrived in Providence, UT, after spending the afternoon meandering along the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway. It had been tempting to linger along the drive, but my destination was a particular inn, so I found my way through the streets of Logan and slightly southeast.
The Old Rock Church has been a lot of things since it was first built between 1869 and 1871 as the Providence LDS Chapel and Meetinghouse. Owned by the church until 1968, it served many purposes for the community, including use for church meetings, social gatherings, dances, and theatre productions.
Subsequent owners adapted the building for a wide variety of uses, including the warehousing and selling of fabrics, residential housing for the elderly and, still ongoing, the hosting of weddings and other social events. The 1990s ushered in the addition of bed and breakfast accommodations.
I had a choice of several rooms and picked The Pioneer Room, on the third floor and under the eaves of the original church building. Original exposed beams, braced with forged iron, accentuated the feeling of history in my room. The traditional decor was warm and inviting, with an earth-toned quilt, rocking chairs, and rustic wooden writing table. Yet the additional features of television, phone, wireless Internet access, and a soothing gas fireplace made it clear I was the 21st century.
The hospitality that greeted me was outstanding. While looking available rooms, the aroma of baked goods began wafting through the air. Chocolate chip cookies had been popped in the oven as soon as I arrived. I was given a tour of the building and shown a menu of delicious breakfast options for the following morning, to be cooked to order. Complimentary DVDs were on hand and a “Dining Card,” offering discounts to local restaurants, was handed to me along with my room key and a welcoming smile.
I set out to explore the town, noting outstanding late 19th and early 20th century architecture in many of the homes and commercial buildings. As with many historic areas, fires had taken many structures with them. But those that remained were fascinating. The Old Rock Church itself is one of the oldest and most impressive.
I cashed in my dining card at Café Sabor, a Mexican restaurant housed in an old train station, where I ordered up some fajitas and soaked in the ambiance of the depot’s high ceiling, rich gold-hued walls, and stately wooden doors. Fresh flour tortillas were being cooked on a rotating metal surface. Locals gathered over baskets of chips and bowls of salsa. It was clearly a popular eatery.
Post-fajitas, I returned to the inn and grabbed a treat from the seemingly bottomless cookie platter in the lobby. I climbed the stairs to my room, where I curled up on the bed with brochures on the local area and history. As back-up, I had a stack of movies from the downstairs lobby. Travel can’t always be about research. I was prepared to relax a little.
Breakfast at this B&B is either delivered to rooms or offered downstairs, which is where I chose to have my morning meal. Housed in a slightly newer section of the building, a Georgian wing that was added to The Old Rock Church in 1926, the room’s cornflower blue walls with white trims were the perfect surrounding for tables with blue teapot print tablecloths. Morning sun flooded in through tall windows framed by white lace curtains. Soft piano music added an unobtrusive background. Oil paintings in gold frames alternated with collections of china plates and vases. It was elegant yet comfortable.
Not surprisingly, the building that houses the inn is on the National Register of Historic Places. Each round of ownership over the years has added substantial improvements to the property, not only aesthetically, but in terms of structural and safety provisions. Community interest in preserving the building and its heritage has played a major factor in saving it from falling into disrepair along the way.
There’s much to draw people to visit this gracious, historic property: history, heritage, architecture, and almost a century and a half of hospitality. And, if that’s not enough to bring the visitors in, I suspect the bottomless platter of cookies might just do the trick.