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Amussen Jewelry Facade

The Amussen Jewelry Store was preserved on the Key Bank Building and removed before the building was destroyed in 2007.

Amussen Jewelry Façade
Photo by Kathie and W. Jeffrey Marsh (2007).

The sandstone store façade replicates the Amussen Jewelry Store. The façade is the only reminder of a pioneer commercial building on the west side of Main Street. Carl Amussen was born in Denmark in 1825 and became a jeweler. He traveled to Germany, Holland, Australia, and New Zealand, where he enjoyed much business success. He found a pamphlet on a New Zealand sidewalk titled A Voice of Warning by Elder Parley P. Pratt and went to Liverpool to investigate further. After baptism, Carl traveled to America in 1865 and crossed the plains in style, with a cook and a driver. He went on a mission to New Zealand, and when he returned he became a prominent jeweler in Salt Lake City. In 1869 he built his store with plenty of plate glass and mirrors to highlight his jewelry. It was the finest building on the block.

Flora Amussen was the youngest child of Carl and Barbara Smith Amussen. Carl died in 1902 when Flora was just a child. Twenty-four years after her father’s death, Flora married young Ezra Taft Benson, who would become the thirteenth President of the Church in 1985.

President Benson once spoke of a sacred family experience in which his mother-in-law, Barbara, reported being visited by her deceased husband just prior to her death on September 15, 1942.

A Time to Die

President Benson once spoke of a sacred family experience in which his mother-in-law, Barbara, reported being visited by her deceased husband just prior to her death on September 15, 1942.

President Ezra Taft Benson and his wife, Flora, leave home. Flora’s father was Carl Amussen, owner of Amussen Jewelry.
Photo by Brigham Young University

My wife’s mother, Barbara Smith Amussen, was an officiator in the Logan Temple for twenty years, and a widow for forty years, and a woman without guile. I loved her so much that I spent a lot of time with her because she was a widow and there was no priesthood in the home. . . .

This choice woman knew the exact time she was to depart mortal life. Her husband, a Danish convert and Utah’s first pioneer jeweler and watchmaker, Carl Christian Amussen, appeared to her either in a dream or a vision. She admitted, “I’m not sure which, but it was so real it seemed that he was right in the room. He said he had come to tell me that my time in mortal life was ending and that on the following Thursday (it was then Friday), I would be expected to leave mortal life.”

Her oldest daughter, Mabel said, “Oh, Mother, you’ve been worrying about something. You’ve not been feeling well.”

Her mother replied, “Everything’s fine. I feel wonderful. There’s nothing to worry about. I just know I’ll be leaving next Thursday.” Then she added, “Mabel, when the time comes, I’d like to pass away in your home in the upper room where I used to sit and tell the boys Book of Mormon and Church history stories when they were little fellows.”

Barbara was the wife of Carl Christian Amussen. Her daughter Flora married President Ezra Taft Benson.
Photo by Reed Benson

As the time drew near, she attended a fast meeting in her ward. The bishop told us she stood and talked as though she were going on a long journey. “She was bidding us all goodbye,” said the bishop, “expressing her love for us and the joy that had been hers working in the temple, which was just a few yards away from the chapel.” And then she bore a fervent testimony.

The bishop was so impressed that, following her testimony, he arose and announced the closing song, although they had not been together quite an hour.

As the days passed, she went to the bank, drew out her small savings, paid all her bills, and went to Bishop Hall’s mortuary and picked out her casket. Then she had the water and the power turned off in her home and went down to Mabel’s. The day before she passed away, her son came to visit her. They sat by the bed and held hands as they talked.

On the day of her passing, Mabel came into the room where her mother was reclining on the bed. Her mother said, “Mabel, I feel a little bit drowsy. I feel I will go to sleep. Do not disturb me if I sleep until the eventide.”

Those were her last words, and she peacefully passed away.