JACKSON, Richard Woolley: Architect

This article originally appeared in Vol.53, No.1 (2006) of Pioneer Magazine.

Richard Wooley Jackson

Richard Woolley Jackson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the fourth of 12 children to Iretta Woolley and S, Andrew Jackson in 1915. His childhood, though a happy one, was fraught with medical complications. During the first grade, he and his newborn sister got smallpox, but both survived. While in the third grade at the Forest School in Sugarhouse, Richard developed a serious infection in his leg as the result of a badly skinned knee. Doctors warned that unless the leg was amputated, he might not survive. Comforted in knowing that his sister Louise, who had died three years earlier, would be awaiting him should he die, Richard refused amputation and bravely confronted the possibility of death. He requested a priesthood blessing, and the infection dissipated.

After recovering from the infection, he was able to travel by streetcar to the Salt Lake Tabernacle, where he was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1923,

Richard manifested musical talent at a young age. As a 10-year-old student at the Oquirrh School in Salt Lake City, he enjoyed playing the violin in the school orchestra, as did his siblings. He later attended LDS High School, where he learned to play the flute and piccolo-skills he would take with him after transferring to West High School in 1932. During the eleventh grade, Richard played the flute and piccolo in the McCune School of Music Symphony Orchestra,

After beginning classes at the University of Utah Extension Division in Engineering, Richard was called to serve a mission to Denmark in 1934. When set apart as a missionary by one of the General Authorities, he was told that he would speak the language of his mission like a native. In October, on the way to his mission, Richard stopped in London. Here he was met by his longtime friend Gordon B. Hinckley, who was just finishing his mission in England. Richard arrived in Denmark on November 2, 1934. He became unusually fluent in the Danish language and was invited by the mission president to give illustrated lectures all over the mission. He also served as a branch president in Denmark before being released from his mission in 1937.

In 1938, he was appointed to be a member of the Board of Temple Architects for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was given the responsibility of preparing plans for the Idaho Falls Temple. In 1940 he decided to attend the University of California School of at Berkeley.

Richard Jackson married Hazel Phillips on June 10, 1942, in the Salt Lake Temple. Nearly a year later, on June 5, 1943, he was awarded his degree in architecture, and he and Hazel moved to Salt Lake City. Their first child, LouAnn, was born the following September.  At this time, Richard worked for an architecture and engineering firm and also resumed playing in the McCune Symphony Orchestra.

In 1944, Richard was awarded his architecture license and immediately opened his own practice. He joined the Sons of Utah Pioneers in 1945 and has since enjoyed participating in the various meetings, conferences, and outings hosted by the group.

Later in 1945, Richard was invited to work at the Church Architectural Department of the Presiding Bishop’s Office, where he checked plans for buildings and did minor projects for the Operations and Maintenance Department. He also aided in the development of small standard plans and drew plans for miscellaneous buildings at Church historical sites. One of the outside architect’s designs he reviewed was for a proposed field house at Brigham Young University. The proposed structure would prove too costly, so Richard was commissioned by the Church in 1950 to create plans for and begin construction on a more economical design.

A decade later, in 1960, after constructing a new home for his growing family while serving in various Church and community positions, Richard was called by the Church to work on more architectural projects—this time in Europe. He left Salt Lake City in March of 1961 for Holland. The Jackson family lived outside of Amsterdam in Naarden-Bussem, Netherlands. From 1961 through 1963, Richard Jackson began work on meetinghouses in Sweden, Belgium, Finland, France, Norway and Denmark. His time in Europe allowed him many missionary opportunities, and he also witnessed a number of miracles that reassured him he was doing the Lord’s work. The Jackson’s children, LouAnn, Richard, Kent, and Charlene enjoyed the experience of living in Europe.

In 1969, the LDS Church Building Division again employed him—this time as the assistant to the chief architect of the Building Division, Robert Little. Jackson was handed the “Scope of Work Determination,” which dealt with all meetinghouse alterations, additions, and demolitions. He also handled all of the historic site building projects for the department. He was instrumental in acquiring the and other buildings in Kirtland, Ohio, and also remodeled the in California. Adding to his list of duties at this time was his work with the Boy Scouts of America.

In January 1982, Hazel and Richard were called to serve as Church-service missionaries in the Eldredge Ward of the South Salt Lake Stake, a calling they held for two years. Richard turned 70 years old in August 1985 and, though retiring from the Church Building Division at that time, he continued to assist with the planning and construction of numerous historical building projects for the Church. In August 1988, he was invited to work on three new buildings in Nauvoo in connection with Nauvoo Restoration, Inc.  The buildings he was assigned included the Riser Shoe Manufactory the Stoddard Tin Shop, and some restroom facilities. He drew preliminaries for all three, visited the sites in December, and in March 1989 traveled back to Nauvoo to oversee construction. Even after returning home to Utah the following October, Jackson drew up additional building plans that were all utilized in the restoration of Nauvoo.

The legacy of Richard W. Jackson continues with his son Roger Jackson, who is also an architect. One of Roger’s accomplishments includes representing the firm in charge of the architectural team for the Nauvoo Temple reconstruction.

Preliminary research began in April 1999, which included an extensive study of drawings from the original architect William Weeks. Photographs, stone fragments from the temple, and written descriptive accounts from journals were used to help piece together the plans for the reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple.

In an interview with Meridian Magazine, in November 2002, Roger explains what it meant to him to be involved in this project:

“It’s really been a great blessing. My great, great grandfather John Mills Wooley worked on the building. That may sound like a miraculous coincidence, but to anybody who is in the Church who had ancestors in Nauvoo, they worked on the temple, too. How much he did and what he did, I don’t know. We have three small journal entries that said, I worked on the temple that sum-men But it’s been fun to think that my great grandfather could be watching. It is a great tribute to our pioneer ancestors who established through their faith and their efforts the strength of what the Church is today”

Richard W. Jackson’s book Places of Worship: 150 Years of LDS Architecture was published in 2003 by the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University and provides the most comprehensive description of Latter-day Saint structures and architectural styles available. The Sons of the Utah Pioneers wishes to honor Richard Jackson for his countless contributions to Latter-day Saint architecture. His tireless and diligent efforts have blessed the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world.

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