Utah B&B opens at former polygamous compound site
- Article by: ANNIE KNOX
- Associated Press
- July 29, 2014 - 9:55 AM
SALT LAKE CITY — Continental breakfasts are now being served at a bed and breakfast that has opened on the site of a sprawling, mostly unoccupied compound in southern Utah that was built for the leader of a polygamous sect.
America's Most Wanted Suites and Bed and Breakfast takes its name from Warren Jeff's time on the list of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives. Accommodations in the Hildale, Utah, bed-and- breakfast run from $85 to $200 a night.
Hildale and neighboring Colorado City, Arizona, are both home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Former Jeffs bodyguard Willie Jessop runs the bed-and-breakfast. He took ownership of the $3.6 million compound in 2013 in a successful lawsuit he brought against the church. Jessop says only one family is living full-time in the compound after a fire destroyed their home.
Jeffs is in a Texas prison serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting girls he considered brides. Members of his church, an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.
Even though its title refers to the imprisoned leader, the bed-and-breakfast aims to help the community move past its dark history, Jessop said.
"Jeffs has never seen it and he never will. It was never lived in, it doesn't have any spooky history," Jessop said.
Guests have been staying in the bed-and-breakfast rooms and one master suite for about a week, and managers are still working out issues, he said. Calls to an 800 number listed for reservations went unanswered Monday, and the business has not registered with the state's chamber of commerce.
Guests can choose to stay for breakfast on site or head to the nearby Merry Wives Cafe, which is operated by church members.
The compound went up in 2010 and 2011 while Jeffs was awaiting trial. Residents have said it was designed for the leader, his wives and his family.
The bedroom intended for Jeffs won't be rented out, Jessop said, and instead will temporarily house families of the sect who need a place to stay.
Soaring red rock borders Hildale, which is about a two-hour drive from Lake Powell and an equal stretch from the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
Jessop expects the inn to cater to curious travelers and former members of the sect who have left voluntarily or because they were exiled.
"This is just one more step to have life after Jeffs and have something positive come after something so sinister," he said.
© 2014 Star Tribune