Provo Tabernacle's history, evolution from the ashes

Published: Sunday, Oct. 23 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

President Thomas S. Monson speaks during the morning session of general conference at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011.

Deseret News

PROVO — From the ashes of the Provo Tabernacle a new temple will rise.

On Oct. 1, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced at general conference that the church would rebuild the old structure, but would change its function to a temple.

There was an immediate positive loud response from the conference attendees.

Clippings from the Deseret News and other newspapers during the past century tell the story of the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle construction began in 1883 and the building was dedicated in 1898, at a cost of $100,000. In April 1898, George Q. Cannon, a member of the church's First Presidency dedicated the building with over 4,000 people attending both inside and outside the building. President Cannon was accompanied by Joseph F. Smith, John Henry Smith, Heber J. Grant, Reed Smoot and local leader Dr. Karl G. Maeser.

The Tabernacle served the members of the church and the community for 128 years as a central meeting place. In 1886 and 1887 the Tabernacle was use as the last place and time the LDS Church's general conference was held outside of Salt Lake City.

On August 25, 1907, Salt Lake Herald reported, that the Tabernacle added a great organ after a number of years raising funds to purchase and installed it in the building. Over the years the building was used for community and religious purposes, lectures and concerts.

In 1917, the building was remolded and the center spire was removed due the strain it was putting on the roof. The new temple will once again place a spire in the center of the building.

When President William H. Taft came to Utah in 1909 he made an address in the tabernacle before going to Salt Lake City. LDS Church apostle and U.S. Senator Reed Smoot took the Taft on a car ride around the city to show him the local sites and tell him about his hometown.

Students at BYU painted Taft's name on the side of the mountain in large letters near the famous 'Y.'

In 1975, the building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

In the middle of the night on Dec. 17, 2010, the Tabernacle went up in flames to the great sorrow of the people in Provo. From December 2010 to October 2011 the church studied the structure and later acquired some additional property to the south of the tabernacle.

The public is invited to submit historical photos to UtahHistoryPhotos@gmail.com.

Photos or scans are sought of famous visitors to Utah.

Information will then be made available on the importance or value of the photographs. Donations to colleges and universities, and state and local historical societies or church history libraries are encouraged, rather than historic images falling into disrepair or being discarded.

Ronald Fox, owns a governmental relations & marketing firm. He is a photo historian and co-author with Mike Winder of the book "When the White House comes to Zion." He has severed as an advance man for five U. S. Presidents.

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