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July 21, 2013






The Past, Present & Future of Provo’s City Center a Pioneer Day Special brought to you by the $


July the Twenty-First, Two-Thousand & Thirteen






e e e e e e e e Since 1898 the spires of the historic Tabernacle have stood as a testament to Provo’s rich Introduction from Michele history and heritage.

Letter from the Editor “For me this building, with its stainedglass windows, sandstone Gothic arches, hexagon towers and arcadia-like landscape is as close as Utah gets to a jeweled reliquary, or saintly shrine, not because it holds the remains of those revered for their nearness to God but even better. This edifice represented the finest and most precious aspirations of a whole community,” said Brad Westwood, manager of acquisitions for the LDS Church History Department. The original Meeting House and Tabernacle were at the center of this bustling city and a place where citizens, officials, entertainers, politicians, and even great world leaders gathered. As this beloved relic of another time went up in flames early on the morning of December 17, 2010, the hearts of an entire community ached. But through the smoke and flames of this tragedy came the announcement

from LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson in October 2011 that the Tabernacle would become Utah’s 16th temple and those “precious aspirations” were once again flourishing throughout this community. A harmonious melding of ideas from city, church and business leaders created plans for a new town center that would bring back the cherished historical building we all love, enriched with walkways, gardens and even a fountain. Rising from the ashes would be something even more striking which would once again be a center for gatherings, weddings and families. We hope you enjoy this special gallery of photographs, information and community reaction that, as Provo’s source of news and information for more than 140 years (since 1872), we feel elated to record and reveal. -Michele Bates

Executive Editor . Editor . . . . . . . . Cover and Layout Writer . . . . . . . . Photography. . . . ............. .............

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. Michele Bates . Jennifer Durrant . Lisa Kane . Genelle Pugmire . Mark Johnston . Spenser Heaps . James Roh

The Daily Herald is excited to share with our readers this story of history, loss and promise. Go online to for expanded photo galleries, video, articles and additional community reactions and memories.

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Use your smartphone or tablet to scan or go to tabernacletotemple

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he elaborate central tower and cupola of the Tabernacle were removed from the building in 1917 because the weight of the structure had caused the roof to sag. A replica of the central tower will be on the new Provo City Center Temple. From ground level to the top of the middle spire is 127 feet. That spire will hold the Angel Moroni.

The Old Meeting House, to the north of the Tabernacle, was completed in 1861. Following completion of the Provo Tabernacle in 1898, the two buildings stood side by side for roughly two decades, until the Meeting House was ordered to be torn down in

1918. Prior to the new temple construction, crews excavating the site found small relics and the stone foundation. Larger stones were saved and now provide seating for people at the renovated Pioneer Park splash pad and other parks throughout the city.

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he Tabernacle’s 1907 organ was built by the Austin Organ Company of Massachusetts and was augmented over several decades. Some of its original pipes were preserved with the organ that replaced it in the 1990s. A new pipe organ will be installed in the new temple.


ver its 112 years, the Provo Tabernacle has hosted worldclass entertainers, symphonies, ensembles, soloists and other artists as well as politicians. United States President William H. Taft spoke at the Provo Tabernacle on Sept. 24, 1909, to an audience of about 3,000 listeners. The Tabernacle was decked out in red, white and blue bunting, just as it has been on numerous Fourth of July celebrations.

President Taft 1909

Other national and international notables include opera singer Helen Traubel. violinist Jascha Heifetz, singer Paul Robson, pianist Bela Bartok, French organist Marcel DuPre, and children’s book author Tasha Tudor. Local stars include Robert Peterson, George Dyer, Michael Ballam, Kurt Bestor and Michael McLean. As a young couple in 1938, Provo residents Monroe and Shirley Paxman, both 93, heard Sergei Rachmoninoff play at the Tabernacle following a stint at Carnegie Hall. Carma de Jong Anderson remembers, “I’ve lived in that Tabernacle, I remember as a 4-year-old girl sitting on the benches watching my parents perform.”

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e e e e e e e e 1920s

The area around the Tabernacle (now University Avenue and Center Street) has been a gathering place for activities and social events including parades like the one depicted in this photo, circa 1920s.


rom LDS Stake Conferences and ďŹ resides, the Tabernacle was used mostly for LDS Church meetings. In 1886 and 1887, LDS General Conference was held at the Provo Tabernacle, even though construction had not been completed. The conferences were moved from Salt Lake City out of concern for the safety of church leaders, many of whom were being sought by law enforcement ofďŹ cials on account of anti-polygamy laws.

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e e e e e e e e 0 Orange ames and a plume of gray smoke poured out of a gaping hole in the roof of Provo’s Tabernacle

early Friday morning, Dec. 17, 2010.


n what oďŹƒcials described as likely a complete loss, the historic building was

gutted by the blaze that began sometime overnight. By Friday afternoon what had once been a Utah landmark and city icon was little more than a charred shell belching ash onto mourning onlookers.

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e e e e e e e e F ire officials said that alarms notified them of a blaze in the historic building at 2:43 a.m. By 4:30 a.m. crews were still struggling to contain the blaze. Deputy Chief Gary Jolley said the fire department initially hoped to salvage the building, but added that it posed a unique challenge because of its size and the large wooden timbers used to support its roof. By 6 a.m. most of the Tabernacle’s roof had collapsed, pulling down the brick gables on the sides of the building.

From Ashes The new temple will improve the surrounding area. This central Provo area has never been that shiny (I can say this because I’ve lived here 19 years), and having the temple here will really increase the value of the area.

-Amber Jane Sorensen It’s going to be beautiful! My dad re-roofed the Tabernacle in the ’80’s so I’m happy to see so much time and effort going into restoring this historic, beautiful building!

-Britney Lowe Quarnberg I remember how fast the news spread around the globe. I work for Nu Skin in The Netherlands and we wondered what would happen to this beautiful building. So you can imagine how happy I was when I heard that it would be saved!

-Frans Utt I’ve always considered it one the most beautiful buildings in Provo, or even in the state. I think we all thought we were going to lose the building at that point. I’m glad they decided to save the exterior.

-Autumn Skye

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e e e e e e e e The destructive fire in 2010 is not the first time the Tabernacle suffered from flames. The Tabernacle was almost lost to fire before it was finished in 1891. It also dodged destruction by fire again in 1912.


ne of the biggest challenges the Provo Fire Department faced during the blaze was simply getting water onto the flames. Even after the roof collapsed, much of the debris remained in the building, piled up on top of the ground floor. When that lower section of the building began to burn, that debris isolated the ground level from the fire hoses above. As a result, fire crews were forced to continue a pattern of containment, spraying the debris with water and waiting for the flames to exhaust themselves.


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he final report on the fire noted that the blaze would never have started, nor reach such intensity, except for an almost incredible series of misjudgments and glitches. To set up lighting for a performance, two incandescent lights were removed from the ceiling and set on wood boxes, which ignited. Then the alarm system proved inadequate; people on the scene failed to comprehend warning signs; and materials brought in for the show, including Christmas greenery, helped fuel the fire.

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e e e e e e e e I n all, 14 tons of debris left by the ďŹ re were hauled out of the Tabernacle.

Residents who saw it called it no less than a miracle. Some said it was a sign. A giclee print of “The Second Comingâ€? by Harry Anderson was meticulously removed from inside the east front door of the Tabernacle. The print depicts Jesus Christ descending to Earth at the Second Coming, arms outstretched and surrounded by hosts of angels. The ďŹ re charred the painting just to the outside edges of the body outline of Christ.



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South Facing A. There was no Moroni on the original Tabernacle. B. This is one of five endowment rooms. C. Along with all maintenance rooms you will also find the aquifer pumping continuously.

D. This is the underground extension that takes the square footage of the former Tabernacle from 35,000 to 85,000 square feet. E. Main floor will have a lobby, chapel, meeting rooms and office. F. Rumor has it this area will house many new stained glass windows and relics saved from the original Tabernacle.







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East Facing G. Great care was made to keep as much original wood from the Tabernacle to be used in the construction of all the spires. Brick and mortar from the original is used throughout. H. This is the entrance from the underground parking. Exit from bridal room area into gardens for photos.

I. This is a tiered bowl Victorian fountain made of bronze and marble. Just south of it will be a 5,000-square-foot Victorian gazebo that will be used for wedding guests and photos. J. Original spiral staircases have been refurbished and will be featured as a focal point in the temple.



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e e e e e e e e Construction is expected to be complete in the Spring of 2015. An open house & dedication will follow.


t was a picture-perfect day in Utah County, according to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of the 6,000 spectators who joined him at the Provo City Center Temple groundbreaking would agree. “What an absolutely stunning sight,” Holland said that Saturday morning. “This will be the largest group to ever again assemble on this land. It is a moment of history. I am deeply touched.”


t’s been called the temple on stilts. This optical illusion makes the shell of the Provo City Center Temple look like it’s floating above ground. However, posts holding the shell of the building keep the building in place as construction crews dig underneath. The building is at ground level. Crews have dug 40 feet below the building to put in the two underground floors. To protect existing brick and mortar, crews have placed concrete and rebar throughout the inside of the remaining brick walls. High-tech laser equipment and other restoration techniques have been used to keep the seismic condition of the temple shell steady. Every two minutes computers receive updates from sensors noting any movement in the building.

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panoramic view of the Provo City Center Temple construction site looking south. Cranes, backhoes and dump trucks continue to work on the underground parking to be provided for temple patrons.

“The announcement of the new temple has pushed forward economic development in the downtown area by nearly a decade.“ -Gary McGinn, Provo’s community development director

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e e e e e e e e Curiosity surrounding the Provo City Center Temple construction site continues to entice the youngest and oldest residents and visitors to Provo. What is evident from a first glance into the 800 pages of descriptions, elevations, floor plans and landscaping of the temple is that the LDS Church is going to great lengths to preserve the historic nature of the old Provo Tabernacle.

Memories The summer I turned 25, I served a stake calling to conduct tours at the Tabernacle. We had a script we worked with that prepared us to answer almost any question posed by visitors. During the tours, I was able to draw on my own experiences having attended stake conferences in the Tabernacle as a child — running up and down the spiral staircase because my steps at home weren’t ever big enough or claiming one of the curved benches in the southeast corner of the balcony as our family’s own. But what brought the building to life for me was knowing that my seven times great-grandfather, Andrew Hunter Scott Jr., oversaw the construction of the “first” Tabernacle while serving as Provo’s fifth mayor (1861-63), and that several other ancestors shared their skills as masons, carpenters and artisans in building the “second” Tabernacle. Those personal connections gave authenticity to those tours and helped me add a chapter to my own story.

-Michelle Bridges, former member of the Pioneer Ward, Provo North Central Stake Coming from a non-Mormon perspective, I’m excited to see this building done. Not because it’s a Mormon temple, but because it’s on the National Register of Historic Places — one of the few in Provo. I’m glad they are re-doing the outside to match what it originally looked like — with the -Ada n Riverstone center spire at least. My husband proposed to me on the north lawn of the Tabernacle 40 years ago next month! I also loved the Relief Society bazaars held there as part of the July celebrations of the 4th and 24th!

When our graduate students flew to Provo from all around the United States to participate in our commencement ceremony, they marveled at the beauty of the venue, the pioneer craftsmanship and the moving organ performances. They felt special, and there was nothing greater we could do than to honor them in that way. This building has brought joy and reverence to so many people. While I cried the day it burned, I’m thankful for its restoration and will forever have fond memories of looking over the beaming faces of our students.

-JessicaDalby Egbert

-Bonnie Wischmeier Even though the benches were hard, I loved attending stake conferences and musical performances. Knowing it was a piece of LDS history made it feel almost sacred to be there.

I have loved attending stake conferences in this building my whole life. It made them feel special. One funny memory is when my husband was sitting on the stand and me and my older three children were singing in the choir, our youngest son — sitting by himself, found a funny seat that was a bench for one! He loved it — we called it the throne.

-Kendra Wright

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-Judy Naylor Shaw

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e e e e e e e e T ha hanks to modern technology, including the use of lasers, computerized censors, rebar and other devices, construction crews can bring the building up to seismic code and still keep its historic nature. City planner Josh Yost said that while no one will see some of the timbers and material being used, “it is a testament to the length the Church is going for historical preservation.” Residents and tourists now flock to the new Provo City Center Temple site to see the meticulous rebirth of that grand old building.

Did You Know? The first meeting held in the Tabernacle was a memorial service for President Ulysses S. Grant on August 8, 1885. President Grant died July 23. About 2,000 people attended the service.

The temple will be approximately 85,084 square feet.

The Tabernacle was completed and paid off in 1898, 15 years after it began. At the time of its initial construction and for a number of years afterward, the Provo Tabernacle was called the Utah Stake Tabernacle.

From ground level to the top of the center spire will be 127 feet.

A 17-foot bronze four-tiered Victorian fountain with ornamental nozzles will grace the grounds at about 100 South.

The finial on the roof is replicated from a stair newel There will be underground parking for almost 300 vehicles. post from the Tabernacle’s interior banister that led to the old pulpit and stand.

Many interior features survived the fire, including wood moldings, newel posts & balustrades, which will allow for reproduction of the beautiful woodwork found in the pioneer Tabernacle.

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Scalloped shingles matching the original 1800s design will be used on the roof. The top of the fence posts will feature beehives.

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e e e e e e e e Following the December 17, 2010, fire that completely destroyed the Provo Tabernacle, Provo Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield described the fire as a unifying moment in Provo history.

“It’s kind of like an old friend,” Schofield said. “It challenged me more than any other event in my emergency services career.” That “old friend” has been an icon of Provo and has welcomed people of all faiths and no faith within her doors. Nearly every LDS prophet since Lorenzo Snow has spoken at her pulpit.


This timeline tells her intriguing story.

Timeline 1800 1861 First Tabernacle built. Known as the Old Meeting House. 1875 First Baptistry in Utah County was built next to the Old Meeting House. 1882 In December, construction begins on the new Provo Tabernacle. 1885 August 5. A memorial was held for President Ulysses S. Grant, who died July 23. Chairs had to be brought in as the Tabernacle was still under construction.

1890s completed Tabernacle. Pressure was on General Authorities and others for practicing polygamy. Provo seemed a safer place to hold the conference sessions.

1886 & 1887 LDS Church 1891 The Tabernacle was April General Conferences were almost lost to fire before it was finished. Electricians, held in Provo inside the nearly

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supervised by T.E. Daniels, who was acting electrician for the Provo Woolen Mills, installed wires for lights. Daniels and Walter Taylor used a gasoline blowpipe, which exploded within seconds of being thrown out of the structure.

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e e e e e e e e painting, plumbing, flooring, roofing, electrical and heating work, at the cost of $43,000.

1965 Another major renovation project was launched. 1975 On September 9, the Tabernacle was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was found to be significant both under the areas of Achitecture and Religion.

1910s 1898 Elder George Q. Cannon dedicates the Tabernacle. Construction took 15 years and $100,000. Cannon filled in when LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff fell ill.

1900 1909 U.S. President William Howard Taft spoke at the Tabernacle as a guest of Sen. Reed Smoot. 1912 The Tabernacle dodged destruction by fire yet again when an overzealous health official set the outhouse behind the building on fire. He wanted to eliminate a public health hazard. The fire burned out of control putting the Tabernacle in jeopardy; the Baptistry was also razed that year after several years of non-use. 1913 The Tabernacle was partially condemned in 1913 because the roof’s truss system didn’t support the center tower.

1917 The Tabernacle was renovated and the center tower was removed. Stained glass windows were added to the building at the same time.

On December 19, hundreds of area residents came to a special memorial service Sunday with stories on their lips and memories in their hearts to pay tribute to one of the great icons of Utah County, the Provo Tabernacle. The building burned to just the outer brick, leaving in its rubble numerous unanswered questions and many hopes to rebuild.

1980s The Tabernacle was remodeled again and brought back to its historic character and was rededicated by now LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson.


1909 1918 &1919 The Old Meeting House was ordered to be torn down over several months encompassing late 1918 and early 1919.

2010 On December 17, at 2:45 a.m. the Provo Tabernacle catches on fire in the attic and burns or smolders for the next two days.

1938 Herald R. Clark achieved Provo’s cultural coup of the century. He arranged for a concert from world-famous pianist and composer Sergei Rachmoninoff.

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2011 On March 31, fire officials determined that an incandescent light placed on a wooden box ignited the fire that destroyed the Provo Tabernacle. On October 1, Pres. Thomas S. Monson announces the Tabernacle will become Utah’s 16th Temple and will be called the Provo City Center Temple. 2012 On May 12, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland officiates at the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Provo City Center Temple.

1949 The Tabernacle was condemned again because of the roof system. At the time there was a serious move to tear down the Tabernacle. 1951 The Tabernacle was renovated, including landscaping,



2015 Construction on the Provo City Center Temple is anticipated to be completed in the Spring. An open house and dedication will follow.

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e e e e e e e e T he new temple plans featuring a public walking path and grounds with an 1880s gazebo for waiting guests, and a place for wedding pictures. Gardens will adorn all sides of the temple with a park open to the public on the north side of the building.



Mayor John Curtis said, “The City Center Temple in downtown Provo is a great example of what two committed organizations can accomplish in a public-private partnership. This has been the model on how to bring everyone to the table for a uniďŹ ed outcome. We’re all dedicated to having the best temple/downtown experience.â€?

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e e e e e e e e Each of the new stained glass windows created for the Provo City Center Temple will look out over the heart of a thriving city. They will stand as a representation of a cherished historic past while looking out onto our community that is embracing its heritage and future.

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Sponsored by

Provo is proud to be home to the much-anticipated Provo City Center Temple. Just one more way the city of Provo is a great place to call home.

Tabernacle to Temple special section Daily Herald Provo, UT  

The original Meeting House and Tabernacle were at the center of this bustling city and a place where citizens, officials, entertainers, poli...

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