When it was built in 1903, the architectural masterpiece which currently houses Discovery Academy was a chapel. The chapel was the heart of the local community. While a great deal has changed since its original construction, fostering a strong community is at the heart of everything that happens at Discovery Academy.
The building was originally known as the Provo Third Ward Chapel. The chapel reflects the values and sense of aesthetics of the people who built it. In 1903, only three generations of settlers had lived in Provo. The successful families of Provo wanted to create a chapel as beautiful as any in the Old World. The building was proof of the settler’s success.
Wealthy families funded local craftsmen who used locally produced supplies to create the Gothic Style chapel. The building was a symbol of both faith and civic pride. In addition to being a place of worship, it was also meetinghouse. The building has always been a place for people to come together in the spirit of community.
Ten years after the original chapel was complete, an Amusement Hall was added on to the chapel. The hall gave local residents a place to enjoy music, dancing, and even sports contests. It has a distinctly different look from the original chapel, including lighter colored brickwork. The spirit of the building remained the same. It was still a place for people to come together.
During the Second World War, the US army re-purposed the chapel into barracks. The military did not have sufficient housing for soldiers, so the local church donated the use of the chapel. As always, the local people were eager to support the needs of the wider community.
Private owners bought the chapel in 1979, the same year that it became part of the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, the building had a series of different owners who used the building for a variety of different purposes, such as, a restaurant and a dance club.
Discovery Academy bought the former chapel in 1992. Since purchasing the building, Discovery Academy has worked hard to preserve both the architecture and community spirit that building embodied. As a therapeutic boarding school, Discovery Academy teaches at-risk youth the value of civic engagement. While students attend Discovery Academy, they learn how to be active members of a healthy community.
Being part of the community takes place both inside and outside of the walls of the Discovery Academy building. Inside the school, students participate in classes, groups, and individualized therapeutic programs. Outside of the school, students participate in volunteer programs or have paying jobs.
Students learn to develop a sense of responsibility. When students return to their real homes, they take all that they have learned with them. Whether inside or outside of the building’s walls, students develop the same sense of community and civic pride that inspired the early Provo settlers to build the Discovery Academy building more than 115 years ago.