Philip Margetts was born in Kineton England on February 10, 1829, and is considered one of Utah's most important members of the theatrical community from 1850 until his death in September of 1914. When he was 12, Philip and his family met Mormon missionaries and were baptized. At the age of eighteen he became an engineer on a fast passenger train. In 1850 completed his journey to the United States, securing a job in St. Louis with Thomas Bakeman, captain of a train leaving for Salt Lake.
Philip was a member of the cast of the first play presented in the Old Bowery, which was the first structure in Utah territory to be identified as a real theatre, in 1851. His success in organizing the Mechanics’ Dramatic Association so impressed President Brigham Young that he made immediate plans for the construction of the Salt Lake Theatre. Philip became an outstanding figure in dramatics in Utah, performing leading roles in many plays, six nights a week for fifty years.
Always a dedicated Church member, he fulfilled a mission to England in 1857 and 1858, returning when Johnson’s army marched to Utah. His wife took part in a march three hundred miles south from Salt Lake with three young children. He also was one of the seventy missionaries sent by President Young with handcarts to the Florence on a special mission.
He remained alert in old age and justified his reputation for having the keenest memory in the theatrical world. He died, revered and respected, on September 1, 1914.
The Philip Margetts Arena Theatre was conceived in the Harris Fine Arts Center to give the director the flexibility of audience placement as well as actor placement. The seating may be arranged in any part of the theatre and in any relationship to the acting area which the director may desire, thus allowing the director control of the audience-actor relationship.
The theatre, 30 feet by 50 feet, seats 125 people (Special Program, 18).
- Special Program for Naming of Areas, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center. Tuesday, November 23, 1965 at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.