LDS tabernacles represent center of religious, community life

Published: Wednesday, June 13 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

At the presentation at UVU, Smith went through each of the central Utah tabernacles he had studied and related some of the most meaningful quotes from the oral histories he had done. Many represented the firm attachment community members felt to these buildings, to the extent that they would fight for them not be torn down.

In Heber City, their tabernacle is now the city hall. But in the 1960s, church leadership had announced plans to take it down. The community members fought for it long and hard, and now it still stands today.

“For over a hundred years (the tabernacle) has been a part of the community and everybody felt that presence when they were there, like the building had a soul,” said Lavon Provost, oral history contributor from Heber City.

The recent fire at the Provo Tabernacle was fresh in everyone’s minds when Smith did his interviews there. Like the former Vernal Tabernacle, the historic building in Provo will now be preserved as an LDS temple.

Wayne Snow said what amazes him about the Provo Tabernacle, and the other church buildings the pioneers built, is its beauty far exceeded that of the people’s own homes.

“And that means to me that their love of God was greater perhaps than even the love for themselves,” Snow said.

Smith said an important thing to be gained from this experience is a strong understanding of what these buildings mean, which he hopes will lend credibility to their preservation.

“It’s valuable to be able to quantify what these buildings are worth,” he said. “Not in a monetary sense, but in what they mean, in their intrinsic value.”

Email: mgarrett@desnews.com

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