History, Includes Story From Life of NLC, Provo History

Two Provo Tabernacles TeII 100-Year History

Click to see original imageThe historic Provo Tabernacle is approaching a milestone – the centennial of the start of its construction in the spring of 1883.

And off the press in time to herald the anniversary will be a new book entitled, “Provo’s Two Tabernacles and the People Who Built Them.”

The 200-page volume illustrated by more than 70 pictures is authored by N. La Verl Christensen, editor emeritus of The Daily Herald.

The Provo Utah East Stake is serving as publisher of the “limited edition” book, and pre-publication orders are now being received, according to Richard H. Cracroft, stake president. The book will not be sold in the bookstores.

Two Tabernacles? Unless you’re an old-timer, you may not have heard of the Provo Meeting House, often called the “Old Tabernacle.”

Dedicated in 1887 by John Taylor with Brigham Young in charge, it pre-dated the Salt lake Tabernacle and stood on the Provo Tabernacle Block facing Center Street.

Most passersby would never suspect that buried beneath the lawns and trees of the shady Tabernacle park are the basic foundation stones of what was Provo’s most resplendent building for years. The structure was dismantled in 1918-19.

“Provo’s Two Tabernacles and the People Who Built Them” details the story of both edifices. It also provides pertinent glimpses into the settlement of Fort Utah, forerunner to Provo, and development of the historic Utah Stake which for 50 years encompassed all of Utah Valley and for a shorter time, the settlements of Heber, Wallsburg, Midway and Charleston in Wasatch Valley.

Urging the reading of histories to broaden understanding and appreciation of “our beautiful valley.” President Cracroft said: “We have been content far too long to allow the history of our people in this valley to stand as a footnote to the history of Salt Lake Valley.”

Thanks to Father Escalante, he noted, Utah Valley actually predates Salt Lake in the annals of recorded history.

“We have our own rich and exciting history, and central to that story is the story of the two Provo Tabernacles” which have been a hub of church and community activities since pioneer days.

The present Provo edifice wasn’t completed and dedicated until 1898. However, it was in use in time for a memorial service for the late President Ulysses S. Grant in August of 1885 and the 56th and 57th General Conferences of the Church ion 1886 and 1887.

Coincident with the ”start-of-construction” centennial, stakes of the Provo Region are planning for 1983 the second phase of a two-part Tabernacle restoration-renovation program. The work will include “wood-graining” of the interior woodwork (a followup of the repainting of last year), installation of brass railing around the balcony, partial reshingling of the roof, extensive remodeling of light fixtures, new choir seats, and redecorating of the foyer including period furniture.

Provo Stake is the agent stake for the project, with Harold Lee Miller Jr. as president.

The new book, of 8 1/2 by ll-inch format, is expected off the press in March. Its synthetic leather grain hardback cover features exterior views of the two Tabernacles. Many of the photos in the volume are exceedingly rare.

“We plan to publish a limited edition according to demand – but we hope the demand will be significant, for the history is rich.” Cracroft said.

Cracroft explained that this is a public service project – nonprofit to both the author and the publishing stake.