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BLOG, Culture and History

Immerse Yourself in the History of Provo Utah

By Katerina Gasset

The first time I lived in Provo, Utah was in 1980. I was newly married with a young infant. We only lived here for a very short time before moving to be closer to family in California. 

Then we moved back to Provo in 1987, just seven years later. We lived here until 1990 before moving again to be closer to family – this time in Seattle, Washington. 

We eventually moved to Florida in 1995, and I lived there for the next 26 years. However, I always dreamed of moving back to the Provo Hills and Provo Canyon. 

I missed the mountains, the spirit, the people, and my church centrality. In Florida, I lived less than a 5-minute walk to the Wellington Chapel, but the geographical boundaries of our ward were so large. It was hard to connect and be close to each other, living so far from away. 

Most of my neighbors in Provo are LDS (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons), which is something I’ve always loved about living here.

A photo I took of the LDS Temple in Provo near my home. It has the picturesque Y Mountain as its backdrop...

The LDS Church is a big part of our life here, and it’s really nice to be surrounded by people who share the same values. 

Provo is so rich in history that can be seen in the buildings and architecture throughout the city.

In fact, Provo is home to the one of the oldest operating theaters in the US: the Historic Echo Theater. I wrote about this and other interesting facts that makes Provo more intriguing. Read the full article here: Unknown Treasures in Provo.

If you are thinking about moving to Provo, Utah, learning about the history and culture will help you understand what it’s like living here. It will help you decide if this is really the right place for you to relocate.

For instance, I’ve read on forums that there are people who have been offered a job here but who live in other states. They want to know if it would be a good move for them. 

It is important to note that Provo, Utah is a huge college town, but NOT in the way most people view college towns. 

Provo, Utah is considered a ‘dry’ city, where alcohol is not served in most places. The only exceptions are the 3 bars in the entire city that serve alcohol. We do have ‘dry’ bars, like ‘Dry-Bar Comedy’, where alcohol is not served. 

Homecoming Game Poster for BYU Men's Football

If you plan to go to a BYU football game, note they do not serve alcohol, and no alcohol is allowed in the Stadium. 

You have to go to a ‘state-run’ liquor store to buy alcohol other than beer. Beer is sold in some grocery stores and places like Walmart, Target, Smiths, and gas stations. But anything stronger than beer - you will have to buy it at the state liquor stores, which also have limited hours and closed on Sundays. 

Provo City Center Temple History

Historic Provo City Center Temple in Downtown Provo

Is Provo Utah mostly Mormon?

Provo Utah is heavily LDS, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons). 93.3% of the population in Provo are LDS. 

So if you’re not a fan of “Mormons” or think we are a cult, then Provo, Utah may not be the place for you to move to 🙂 

Provo is an incredibly friendly and welcoming city, and it boasts a tight-knit community feel. 

If you don’t mind a heavily LDS population, then you will likely enjoy it here, too. 

I love to learn about places I am thinking of moving to. It is hard for me to understand when people move to a new place without taking the time to learn about the area first.

I get that people sometimes just up and leave for a change of scenery, but it’s always been important for me to understand the culture and the history. I like to understand the people I will be living among. I think it makes for a much more enriching experience overall. 

When I’m thinking about moving somewhere, I want to understand the people and the culture so that I can make the best decision for myself. 

Provo is definitely not a ‘party town’ in the way that non-LDS define ‘party town’. It is also not known as being a ‘hook-up’ town. While there are many college students most of them go to BYU - Brigham Young University or UVU- Utah Valley University. Both are predominantly LDS, so the atmosphere is more conservative.  

LDS members don’t drink alcohol. They also live by a moral code. So young people typically are not ‘hooking up’, especially not for one-night stands. The dating scene in Provo is different here than what you might find in secular college towns. 

But if you love ice cream--- Provo is the place! 

The BYU Creamery tops my list of best ice cream places in Provo. Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream in Provo comes in a close second. You can’t go wrong with either place! 


History of Provo Utah

Photo showing the map of Provo with a magnifying glass showing a treasure

Provo, Utah is one of the most historically significant cities in the state. Its long and rich history dates back in 1849 when members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled in the area, and became the first Mormon settlement in Utah outside of Salt Lake Valley. 

Unfortunately, the new settlers didn’t get along too well with the Ute Indians who already lived in the area and were very protective of their land. To help defend themselves, the settlers built Fort Utah. 

It took some time for the Latter-day Saints and the Ute Indians to find peace with each other. After the first year, the settlers decided to build homes outside of Fort Utah and make Provo a more pleasant city to live in. 

Provo was first established as Fort Utah in 1850. It was named after the Ute tribe that lived in the area at the time. But later on, it was renamed Fort Provo in honor of a French trapper, Provost, in 1852. 

By 1852, there were already hotels and businesses up and running. 

Provo became home to Brigham Young University and Utah Valley State College. 

Brigham Young University, originally called Brigham Young Academy, was founded in 1875 by Brigham Young who was the second president of the Mormon church. It wasn’t until 1903 that the school achieved university status. 

Views at the Provo City Center Temple

Statue at the Provo City Center Temple

What is Provo Utah historically known for?

Provo is the second largest city in Utah. It’s called the “Garden City” because of all the fruit orchards, trees, and gardens. 

The Provo City Center Temple is one of Provo’s historic landmarks. The Provo Tabernacle used to stand in its place, but it burned down in 2010. After years of renovation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints transformed the tabernacle into a temple, which was completed in 2016. 

Post-fire Renovations of the Provo City Center Temple

Restored LDS Temple in Historic Downtown Provo

Over time, Provo grew and prospered, becoming a major center for both business and culture. Today, it is a thriving city with a population of over 115,000 people.

A photo I took of Provo being awarded as Best Performing CIty

It also became a popular destination for tourists, who came to see its beautiful mountain scenery and its historic buildings.


Your Complete Guide to Living in Provo

Considering a move to Provo or just curious about what it's like to live in this historic city?

I've compiled a list of the pros of cons of living in Provo throughout my two years of stay here in this lovely city! Check out the full list here: Moving to Provo: Pros and Cons

Other Things You Need to Know When Moving to Provo:

What is Provo Utah Known For - What Makes Provo Utah Unique?

Transportation

Salt Lake City Airport

Provo Airport

Driving in Provo

Utilities

Gas and Electricity


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About the author of Move to Provo Utah Website 

Katerina Gasset

When I moved here I was blessed to have my daughter to help with different things you need to know when you move to a new place. I had background from living here before but things have changed a lot too since the '80s. 

We were able to get all the good places to eat down fast - since she knows all that and we have a lot of the same likes in food. But things like how to turn on my electricity or what power company services my home... well... I was at a total loss! 

I know that other people moving to Provo don't always have family here to guide and help them. And most people don't have a real estate agent who gives them a welcome package on all the important numbers and places they need to know. 

My goal is for this website to be your go to resource for everything you need to know before, during, and after you move here to Provo, Utah. I want you to have the best experience and love living here as much as I do

Author Katerina Gasset - photo of me the author
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