I recently moved back to the Salt Lake area after several years on the east coast. Every day, my bus passes in front of the Beehive House, and it occurred to me that, despite the fact that I grew up in Utah, I could not remember ever having visited it. You know how it is, you never visit the sites you live closest to.

So I went. Well, here’s what I learned there:

The principal resident of the Beehive House had very little formal education and thus taught how important it is to study. Oh yeah, and said individual loved books, hence “the impressive number” of these objects in the office (which amounted to a single bookcase, I might add). He liked to read the Bible. Also, apparently this person had a family since we were shown his “wife’s bedroom” and a couple for his children. Also, he made the doorknob on the door to the store at the back of the house lower than usual to allow the kids to go get a treat whenever they wanted. Aw, he loved kids.

Anyway, I remarked to my wife as we were leaving, if I had to guess who lived here based solely on the information provided by our guides, I would have said Abraham Lincoln or something. Throughout the tour I found myself wondering when we were going to hear about freeing the slaves. I once compared a certain church historical site to Disneyland, so I assumed I had stumbled into Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

Now, naturally the guides are missionaries, not historians or anything, and your mileage may vary. Their purpose is to upsell referrals at the end. I understand that. I’m not blaming or even criticizing them. It’s not their fault. They were just doing what they’re told to do. I assume there is some kind of standardized script or set of information that serves as a base for the tour — because, goodness knows, we Mormons love us some standardization, and also because no one expects a newly arrived missionary to be an expert on Brother Brigham and his house.

Nevertheless, with all the fascinating, colorful, unique things you could say about Brigham Young, I was struck with how conspicuously nothing of interest was mentioned. Is it too much to ask that I come away from visiting the man’s house with at least some modicum of appreciation for what he was like beyond vague platitudes about the importance of education and reading the Bible? I’m not asking for a historically rigorous biographical sketch, but couldn’t the standard script give a few more lively anecdotes about things he said or did there, about people he met with… I don’t know, anything at all to differentiate him from all the other dead people with tours tromping through their carefully preserved houses?

I’m not even really harping on the polygamy thing — I mean, I don’t expect them to highlight the issue, I know how much the Church loves to bring it up so my expectations are pretty low in that regard. But, you know, when showing the wife’s (singular!) room, a simple acknowledgement of the elephant next door with its rows of dormer windows would have sufficed.

Anyway, I know, I know, I’m too critical and no matter what they do, they’re never going to please me. Thanks for reading, Mom, and you are right. I guess I just wish they would try. At least the wannabe Disneyland that is the Joseph Smith birthplace makes an effort. To that end, I suggest that the Beehive House invest in an animatronic Brigham Young — preferably pre-beard, so I don’t confuse him with the most famous of his presidential contemporaries.