Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
The first public tours of the Capitol will begin Saturday, with events scheduled every day for a week.

Additional information:
 » Slideshow of state Capitol renovations

Much as the newly renovated Utah State Capitol preserves the design and colors of the original, the formal re-dedication program today also mirrors — to some extent — the formal opening back on Oct. 9, 1916.

"The vision for the program really follows the vision of the whole project," said Wilson Martin, state historic preservation officer.

The newly restored Capitol is such that if Richard K.A. Kletting, architect of the original structure, were to see it today, he would exclaim, "Oh, it's all here," Martin said.

"It actually looks very modern, even to our eye today, even though it was planned clear back in 1914-15 and executed in 1916," he said. "So the theme of preservation of our past is retold from every angle, from the paint, to the murals, to the windows, to the light, even to the program."

"What we tried to do is let history help us with the program itself," said Allyson Gamble, director of communications for the Capitol Preservation Board.

There are some differences this time, most notably the closed dedication ceremony and invitation-only reception tonight. For the original dedication, which was open to the public, more than 30,000 people attended.

There will be public fireworks over the rededicated Capitol at 5:15 p.m. The first public tours of the Capitol will begin Saturday, with events every day for a week.

Another difference between the two events will be — at least according to plan — the performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during the rededication. The choir was supposed to perform at the original dedication but did not end up singing because the crowd filled their reserved seats in front of the governor's stand, according to a Salt Lake Tribune story from 1916.

Joined by the Orchestra at Temple Square, International Children's Choir and Utah National Guard 23rd Army Band, the choir will perform the specially commissioned "Anthem for a New Year: Into the Light," with words by Katherine Coles, Utah's poet laureate, and music by Kurt Bestor.

Otherwise, the program, which starts at 2 p.m. today, will closely resemble the original ceremony. It will be most apparent with the choices of speakers:

• LDS Church President Joseph F. Smith was the featured speaker at the original dedication, so current President Gordon B. Hinckley will be the featured speaker for the rededication.

• The Rev. J.E. Carver of Ogden gave the invocation in 1916. This time, the Rev. Charles Petty of Ogden's Second Baptist Church will have that honor.

• Joseph S. Glass of the Catholic Diocese of Utah gave the original benediction. This time, the benediction will be from the Rev. Donald Hope of Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church in Price.

• Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will speak at today's event, just as then-Gov. William Spry did in 1916.

What today's rededication speakers will say has not been made public. However, what was said during the original dedication could just as easily hold true today.

In his speech in 1916, President Smith said, according to a report in the Deseret News, that the location was chosen by the pioneers and despite efforts to change it, the Capitol stood where those original settlers intended. Additionally, he declared it would stand "until God shall shake the earth and mountains fall to the ground."

This time, President Hinckley could make the same promise with even more confidence, thanks to the extensive seismic upgrades that were the focus of the Capitol reconstruction.

Spry told the spectators who filled the Capitol that "it is your Capitol, my friends; it always has been, it always will be," according to the Tribune 1916 story. In Huntsman's speech, it would not be surprising to hear him echo Spry's sentiment that the Capitol is the people's house.

"We have decided to ring bells throughout the state of Utah and ask people to participate that way," Gamble said. Inside the Capitol will be 150 bell ringers, including members of the Bells on Temple Square, and bell choirs from six Utah high schools. Live television feeds will be transmitted showing students ringing bells in four schools in rural areas of the state.

E-mail: [email protected]