Curated by: Utah State University Public History Class
A Monument to the Community By Laura Harris Hales
It was February 9, 1896, and a gray, pungent haze filled the air. Word spread quickly. The tabernacle was on fire! Soon thousands gathered around the ashes of what had been the center of Mormon religious activity for more than 30 years.
Pioneers were urged to build tabernacles for gathering places and worship. Constructed entirely from community resources, the towering edifice represented the heart of Brigham City. Local raw materials made up the structural elements; immigrant craftsmen donated their labor; and women hosted Sunday egg sales to raise money.
After the disaster, locals mobilized once more to rebuild the edifice. Within a year, the tabernacle’s tower once again dominated the skyline. Church-goers appreciated the modern additions including electric lighting and steam pipes under the seats.
By the late 20th century, usage declined as church leaders preferred more modern facilities. There was even talk of razing the structure until former Brigham City resident, and Latter-day Saint apostle Elder Boyd K. Packer came to the rescue in 1986. After renovation brought it up to local building code, the revitalized building saw increase popularity.
Since 1998, the community has used the tabernacle primarily for interfaith meetings and musical productions reflecting both the civic and religious history of the structure.
The tabernacle’s beautiful exterior consists of a gothic revival tower, 16 pilasters, arched windows, and large entry. In the interior, spiral staircases in the front and rear of the building flank the pipe organ purchased in 1952, and intricate woodwork is visible throughout.
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