On Saturday, October 12, Wasatch Academy faculty, staff, students, parents, and board members met in what was once the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church to dedicate the attractively restored and transformed facility. The beautiful building, now the Bernadette and Edward Feeney Music Conservatory, was originally erected in 1922. It now serves as Wasatch Academy’s Center for Contemporary Music, providing a collegiate level of music education.
Head of School Joseph Loftin opened the dedication explaining, “This is the oldest high school in the state of Utah. In fact, we’re 21 years older than the state of Utah!” This fact speaks to the incredible endurance the institution has had.
The building, like the school, has undergone many transformations. In 2015 the church was renovated and an addition was built. This place of history evolved into a state-of-the-art music conservatory featuring professional-quality acoustics, soundproof practice rooms, lockers for the students’ instruments, a grand piano, several Kawai electric keyboards with corresponding computer equipment, and a fully functional recording studio—amenities not often found in your average private boarding schools.
Before it became the Music Conservatory it was solely a First Presbyterian Church built in response to an attic fire that closed Liberal Hall in the early 1920s. Liberal Hall, now a museum, was the original Wasatch Academy schoolhouse and church building.
The Liberal Hall school building was built largely by a group of renegade locals who wanted their own cultural center and called themselves the Liberal Party. It was that group of people, working with a maverick Presbyterian minister Duncan McMillan, and a desire to have their children educated, who started Wasatch Academy. It is because of this brave group of individuals that this time-tested institution exists.
Joseph Loftin credited much of the school’s success to its generous and loyal supporters, “I am pleased and so thrilled that we have this great music conservatory. If we didn’t have people like Terry Feeney involved, this wouldn’t have happened for Wasatch Academy.”
Terry Feeney, president of the Wasatch Academy Board of Trustees, has been a strong supporter of Wasatch Academy. For this, Joe expressed his appreciation, “Terry I cannot thank you enough for your work, and not just your work here in supporting the development of this music conservatory, but also for the beautiful Sheguru grand piano you gifted the school, of which there are only 7 in the world. This school is so grateful to have its families and alumni take such good care of it and help build it into the great institution that it is today. It’s a great institution with a very bright future.”