Sunday, July 19, 2015

Provo South Stake Fireside: The Original Tabernacle

The Provo South Stake held a fireside earlier this evening.
Ryan W. Saltzgiver, who completed his masters thesis on the archaeology of the original tabernacle, was the main speaker.
The original tabernacle was often referred to as the old meetinghouse, shown here in a painting by Samuel Jepperson.  When Brigham Young dedicated the building in 1867, he declared it to be too small and told the residents of Provo build a larger one.
The construction of the first tabernacle took sixteen years.  The second tabernacle was under construction for eighteen years.
The second tabernacle was built with a center tower, which has been restored on the new temple.  The colors on the tower were bold tones of gray.
Visitors to the second tabernacle could look out over the city from a landing around the center spire.  The landing will also be restored on the temple but will not be available to the public.
Archaeologists discovered bold colors of red plaster from the original tabernacle.  The meetinghouse also had padded velvet seat covers, glass windows, and a bell in the steeple.
Old fire insurance maps indicated where archaeologists could begin looking for the remains of the original tabernacle after the 2010 fire.
Ground-penetrating radar confirmed where the foundation was.
This building had a basement large enough for a person to stand.  Two stories were above ground.
The interior of this tabernacle was similar to the second tabernacle, with pews on the main floor and a balcony along the interior walls.  Other Utah tabernacles, such as Ogden, St. George and Bountiful, were based on the Provo tabernacle plans.
A lintel stone was placed above the entrance to the tabernacle.  After the structure was taken down in 1918, the lintel was eventually moved to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum.
Brother Saltzgiver stated that the pioneers intended to finish the building in 1861, but it was not actually completed for six more years.
This photo, which I took during the discovery of the remains between January and March of 2012, shows where the old meetinghouse stood in relation to the second tabernacle.  A small building on the right provided heat in the winter.
Some of the remains of the foundation of the original tabernacle are underground in the north garden area of the new temple.
Brother Saltzgiver told us that many homes in the South Stake area have foundations built from the stones taken from this tabernacle when it was torn down about 1918-1919.
This north part of the tabernacle had an extra wall which supported the bell tower.  Coal dust
was discovered during the excavation, left from coal which heated the building.
If you look closely, you can see an orange mark in the center of this photo. This marks the point where half the foundation stones would be taken away.
With half the stones removed, the remaining foundation was covered.  
An underground annex of the temple now fills the space between the northern wall of the temple and the remaining foundation of the original tabernacle.
A walkway runs above this area.
This is what lies beneath the surface.
The lintel stone will be returned to the temple grounds and will rest to the right of this photo, along the walkway shown here.
Brother Saltzgiver told us that undergraduate and graduate students were able to complete the dig in just three months.  Many artifacts were found.
This 1894 silver dime was found.  The earliest coin was minted in 1845.
Someone found a bullet.
The tabernacle also functioned as a school, explaining why slate pencils were in this area.
This disc is an internal part of an oil lamp which lighted the building.
I took these pictures during the excavation.  Public interest in the archaeologists' work was high, and the items were displayed at the site.  A doorknob is in the lower right-hand corner.
Brother Saltzgiver said that many of the artifacts were reburied on the site, but he wouldn't tell us where.
At the time the second tabernacle was completed, utility poles ran north and south along what is now University Avenue.  The Knight Building, which still stands, is on the right.  The bank on the left was completed in 1900.
This photo was taken about a decade earlier and shows Center Street, with the original tabernacle on the right.
The Hotel Roberts was built between First and Second South in 1882.  Archaeologists also excavated its grounds, which were purchased by the LDS Church after the fire.
This wall from the foundation of the hotel ran parallel with Second South.  This area today is underneath a new sidewalk.
Ultimately, the original dirt from the entire west and south areas of the temple block was removed and taken to the airport to build up that area near the lake.  These spaces are now part of the underground garage.  The north area seen here is the annex, and today is covered with grass and planters.
As the temple moves closer to its dedication date next year, new walks are being built.  I took this photo this evening before the fireside.  Trees on the left were planted last week.
Brick above the gable doorways has needed some adjusting in order to make a perfect fit for the new doorjambs.  This picture, taken earlier this evening, is on the east side.
The brick above the south side entrance was quickly replaced last week.
The north entrance now bears a new art glass transom.  Trim around the new jamb has been installed.
Art glass will be fitted into the transom areas of the south and east sides, also.
My camera tried to see what is below the new art glass.  I have ten pictures just like this.
I took this picture earlier in the week, facing east and looking across the north grounds.
President Benjamin Larsen of the Provo South Stake also spoke at the fireside tonight.  He talked about the heartbreak everyone felt when the second tabernacle burned.  I suspect many were saddened when the original tabernacle was taken down.
President Larsen said that he hoped our hearts are focused on why the Church builds temples.
He asked the members of his stake to think about how to share the blessings of the temple with others.
Allen C. Ostergar, the new Provo City Center temple president, was called just three weeks ago.  He and his wife Nancy, who also eloquently spoke tonight, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month.
President Ostergar told us he and Nancy have attended the temple 49 times in the last 11 months as part of their wedding anniversary celebration.  They will attend the 50th time soon.  He said there are many things we can learn at the temple.  The most important is that "God is there, and He wants us to be happy."   
The new Provo Mission president and his wife, John C. and Victoria Hodgman, also spoke.  They told us that the whole point of missionary work is to get people to the temple.
They asked us where holiness comes from and then suggested that perhaps we can each make our lives a little more holy.
The fireside was very well attended.
The temple itself is in the Provo South Stake boundaries.
Over 6000 participants have registered for the Temple to Temple Run this Friday.
President Ostergar suggested we run to the temple.
Sister Ostergar told us that the purpose of the temple is to bring us closer to the Savior. 
Maybe this temple can bring us closer to Provo's pioneer heritage, too.


Easy_Going_Dad said...

Awesome entry. Thanks for all the new info. I'll think of the old Tabernacle every time I walk the north grounds.

Unknown said...

I love seeing all the photos and your comments are great! Bless you for all the work you've put into this blog!

Unknown said...

I haven't seen the Jepperson painting of the old tabernacle before--can you tell me where the original is?

Julie Markham said...

It's in the DUP Museum on 5th West, above the front door. The museum has many of his originals, the number 17 is coming to my brain, but it's been awhile. The mayor's office has another.