A few of the oldest, longest continuous things in the LDS Church

Published: Monday, July 9 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

University of Utah student Rob Stefanussen plays the organ in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Of its 11,623 pipes, 132 are originals.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News photo archive

The LDS Church was officially organized April 6, 1830. From humble beginnings in the state of New York, it has spread across the world to include almost 14.5 million members. This is a list of some of the oldest or longest continuously existing buildings and site, organizations, people, music and publications connected with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Data were collected from a range of sources.


  1. LDS chapel (oldest still in use): Construction began on the Bountiful, Utah, Tabernacle in 1857, when it was decided the growing community needed a larger meetinghouse. The five-spire, 86-foot by 44-foot structure was designed by Augustus Farnham. LDS apostle Lorenzo Snow dedicated the site at a groundbreaking Feb. 11-12 after which work on the tabernacle commenced, only to be delayed by the arrival of Johnston's Army later that year. (Bountiful's citizens were evacuated to central Utah during the Utah War of 1857-58, according to the Utah History Encyclopedia.) The Bountiful Tabernacle was dedicated six years later, on March 14-15, 1863, by Elder Heber C. Kimball with church President Brigham Young presiding. Parts of the building, including the spire, have been renovated since 1863, but efforts have been made to preserve its original appearance. Given a state historical marker by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in 1936, it is still in use as a meetinghouse today. (Sources: "Bountiful Tabernacle marks 150 years" February 12, 2007, The Davis Clipper, Utah History Encyclopedia, "Bountiful Tabernacle to get 're-spired'" March 2, 2005, The Davis Clipper, Utah State History Markers and Monuments Database)
  2. Chapel (oldest still existing and owned by the LDS Church): The Gadfield Elm Chapel was built in Herefordshire, England, by the United Brethren in 1836. In 1840, LDS converts John Benbow and Thomas Kington gave the chapel to the church. On May 17, 1840, Brigham Young and Willard Richards spoke to Latter-day Saints in the chapel. At the time, it was the only LDS chapel in the world. The chapel was sold two years later to help the poorer Saints immigrate to America and was used for "a variety of purposes (including) as a cowshed," according to LDS Church News. In 1994, a group of members headed by local bishop Wayne Gardner formed the Gadfield Elm Trust, which bought and restored the chapel, a process that took six years. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland rededicated the chapel in 2000. Four years later when Gadfield Elm Trust gave the chapel to the LDS Church, it was rededicated again, this time by then-President Gordon B. Hinckley. (Sources: "Oldest chapel in England refurbished and rededicated" May 6, 2000, LDS Church News, "Historic chapel given to LDS" May 27, 2004, Deseret News, "From around the world" January 28, 1995, LDS Church News)
  3. Temple (oldest still operating): President Brigham Young dedicated the site for the St. George Utah Temple on Nov. 9, 1871. Latter-day Saints in southern Utah contributed their time, money, goods and labor to build the temple. While it was still under construction, on Jan. 1, 1877, Elder Wilford Woodruff, President Young and Elder Erastus Snow dedicated the completed portions. The final dedication of the temple took place later that year on April 6. President Young died four months later on Aug. 29 after dedicating temple sites in Manti and Logan. The temple's tower was damaged by lightning about a year after the dedication and replaced several years later. Following an extensive remodeling, the temple was rededicated Nov. 11-12, 1975, by President Spencer W. Kimball. (Sources: March 1977 Ensign magazine, "St George Utah Temple" LDS Church News, ldschurchtemples.com/stgeorge)
  4. Standing fort (owned by LDS): LDS settlers and missionaries in Idaho and Nevada built forts in Limhi (later spelled Lemhi), Idaho, and Las Vegas in 1855. After the settlers in Idaho had worked with the Native Americans and farmed for two years, a group of Indians attacked the colony and Brigham Young called them back to Utah, abandoning Fort Lemhi in 1858. The group in Las Vegas broke up in 1857 due to "internal dissension and the inability of the group to grow sufficient food," but a few stayed in the area. Only a few original walls from each fort remain today. (Sources: Idaho State Historical Society, Friends of the Fort)
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