Filed Under Religion

The Bountiful Tabernacle

The Bountiful Tabernacle is the oldest religious structure in Utah. It was saved from demolition in the 1970s and has been in continuous use since its completion in 1862.

The Bountiful Tabernacle, an 86-foot by 44-foot Greek Revival structure, replaced a smaller log building. The construction of the tabernacle took six years to finish due to the Utah War. The first stone of the rock foundation was laid in 1857. The building was dedicated on March 14th and 15th 1863, requiring two days for the largest, most important event in Bountiful history.

The walls of the tabernacle are three feet thick adobe with a red line timber roof attached to wooden pegs in order to support the weight. Mortar was made from the lime rock hauled from the region of the hot springs and was burned in two kilns in Barton Hollow. The stairways are hand carved and the 86 foot by 44 foot structure executes the plaster casting of the building. The construction of the roof proved to be a difficult task. It was not until the most renowned architect, Augustus Farnham, returned from his mission to Australia that the completion of the roof was finished. The main builders on the project were Augustus Farnham, George Washington Lincoln, George A. Lincoln, Thomas F. Fisher, Isaac Atkinson, John Wood, and Joseph Day, Sr. 

The building has gone through several changes. During a windstorm in 1906, the five spires of the steeple were blown off. They were replaced in 1955. In 1925, a north wing with an amusement hall and classrooms was added. In 1942, the building was 'remodeled, redecorated and modernized' and a new pipe organ was installed. In 1957, a new wing was added to the rear of the amusement hall, containing a kitchen, Relief Society room, and offices. The ceiling collapsed in 1983, and the chandeliers came down onto the organ console. Both the ceiling and the organ were restored.

In February 1975, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the building would be razed. The response was immediate and fierce. The Utah Heritage Foundation, “swamped with protests,” directed all of them to the First Presidency.The Utah Senate passed a resolution urging preservation. The combination of efforts on local, governmental, and ecclesiastical levels caused the First Presidency to announce that the tabernacle was to be preserved. 

The Rex Stallings Construction Company of Salt Lake City demolished the existing wing additions and began work on new ones.  Renovation work included replacement of the interior woodwork. The mural of LDS church founder Joseph Smith painted by Daniel Waggelund on the rear wall of the tabernacle was professionally removed and stored in church archives.

Images

Bountiful Tabernacle, 1906.
Bountiful Tabernacle, 1906. Bountiful Tabernacle shortly after the 1906 wind which toppled the spires. Source: Bountiful Tabernacle. Utah State Historical Society Digital Collections. Photo #29388, used with permission from the Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=435269&q=bountiful+tabernacle&facet_setname_s=dha_%2A
Bountiful Tabernacle, 1955.
Bountiful Tabernacle, 1955. Bountiful Tabernacle after the 1955 replacement of the five spires. Source: Bountiful Tabernacle. Utah State Historical Society Digital Collections. Photo #06594, used with permission from the Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=435267&q=bountiful+tabernacle&facet_setname_s=dha_%2A
Bountiful Tabernacle interior.
Bountiful Tabernacle interior. Interior of the Bountiful Tabernacle showing the Joseph Smith mural behind the choir. Source: Bountiful Tabernacle, 1952. Taken by Salt Lake Tribune staff. Photo #20710, used with permission from the Utah State Historical Society. https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=643342&q=bountiful+tabernacle&facet_setname_s=dha_%2A Creator: Salt Lake Tribune staff

Location

Metadata

David Figueroa-Luciano, Weber State University, “The Bountiful Tabernacle,” Intermountain Histories, accessed April 21, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/357.