"If walls could talk, I could just sit here and listen," said Celeste Gates as she stood inside the Cluff Ward house three miles up Chalk Creek Road in Coalville.
Gates and other members of the community are raising money in hopes of restoring the Cluff house to how it looked inside and out before its abandonment in 1953.
The problem is, the estimated $250,000 to $300,000 it would take to renovate the building is a lot more than the $1,250 that it cost to build the one-room house in the first place back in 1912.
The Cluff house, named for an early settler of the area, was the worship place for members of the Church of Latter-day Saints for about 40 years before it was closed so members could join the Coalville 2nd Ward.
RaNae Crittenden was a worshipper at the Cluff house before it closed, and said it was "traumatic" to be forced to leave the place where her formative years were spent.
"When I walk in here, I get a flood of memories," she said as she spoke inside the cleared-out house, surrounded by peeling wallpaper and protected from the elements by a black tarp affixed to the crumbling vestibule.
The congregants in the rural area were a particularly close-knit bunch, and would walk together to worship services on Sundays and Primary lessons on Tuesdays afternoons. Because it was only one-room, curtains hung from the rafters to separate different ages of children from one another.
With two potbelly stoves for heat, the sanctuary had no pews, only chairs.
After the house was abandoned, it became the property of Mae Moore, a former deputy treasurer for Summit County, according to her online obituary. She lived next to the house, and when she died in 2009, her dying wish was that the house be restored to its former glory, said Ramona Pace, the county president of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and also on the board of directors of a non-profit that has been created for the restoration project. The house was then donated to the non-profit by Mae's son, Doug Moore.
The board of directors doesn't want the restored house to be a worship place once again, but a community center where there could be banquets, weddings and other functions.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to a Zions Bank account named the Cluff Ward Project.
To learn how to help the restoration efforts, contact Celeste Gates at 435-647-6808 or RaNae Crittenden at 435-336-2016.