1-This is a new virtual. No logging of a visit five years ago. If one person is posting a photo for a group, post the geonicks you are posting for. If you havea friend that posts a photo for you, say who it is in your log. No photo, or no link to a log with your name in it and a photo attached and it will be deleted. It is how I will police armchair logs, from saying "I was with bob" with no proof.
2-Post a photo of yourself (preferably) or at the location. I would say with your GPS, but most are using their phones now. If you do not want your photo, take one of your foot. If you really have a problem with the photo requirement, email me and talk, I will work with people.
Arrival and First Tabernacle
In 1849 the first settlers arrived in Provo, Utah. They had traveled across the plains and arrived to start their new Zion in the mountains. Upon arrival, one of the first things they started working on was the tabernacle, location that would be used for church, community meetings, and art performances. By the 1861 when it was (mostly) completed it was 80 feet tall, and seated 1200. The community of Provo was about 2300 at the time.
At the dedication, Brigham Young remarked that the building was just too small and should have been completed 12 years earlier. So before people were even situated a new tabernacle was in the planning stages.
New Tablernacle Building
The new buildings construction was begun in 1883, and the community was about 3500 in size. It was sized to house about 3000 people, and was in use by 1886 three years later when it held the churches general conference. It was completed and dedicated in 1898 (the cities population was 6000). The cost was $100,000. A $10,000 organ was installed.
It was designed by William Folson. He also designed the Salt Lake City building, Manti Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle, ZCMI building and the Salt Lake Theatre.
By 1917 the tower in the center of the building was removed. The roof was beginning to sag from the weight, and there was a few it could collapse. For many years the top could be accessed and you could see for miles across the valley.
Downtown Decline and a Glimmer of Hope
By the late 1980's and into the 90's the city center was in decline. The malls in Provo and Orem were drawing shoppers away, and the downtown buildings were struggling. Many businesses were empty, stores had been shuddered. Just south of the temple a multi story historic hotel had become a apartment/hotel full of crime and drug use. The area was struggling. I remember walking the streets at the time. Pet stores in historic buildings, pawn shops, empty storefronts, and repair stores. All were taking their toll.
Yet during this time the building was in near constant use. Every Saturday and Sunday church meetings were held here, BYU stake conferences, and local conferences. It was used for art performances a few nights a week and was a center of the community, even if the downtown was struggling.
Then slowly the older part of town started to change. The multi story building east of here was built, restaurants returned, and slowly the area began to be renovated.
In the mid 1990's I lived a few hundred yards from here. I was single (then married living there) , and would wander the streets when bored. I loved coming here. A number of times it was open, and I went in and just sat and relaxed. I came a few times to clean the building, it was a treat to be in such a historic location. It was worn, but loved by the community. It was not unusual to walk by and see it being used for orchestral or singing recitals. They put lights on the building, the small Christmas lights, and for many years they would shine through the summer. This became part of my life living in the downtown area.
Burned to Ashes
December 17, 2010 a fire broke out. A light had fallen and was left on, it had started a fire, an alarm had went off, and the the guy that came to investigate saw nothing. So he turned it off, and in an old building with no fire sprinklers, nothing would stop it from burning to the ground. The floor, balconies, then the ceiling collapsed. It was one of the biggest fires the city has ever had. The fire was so dangerous that the fire fighters did not dare enter the structure. At that time I was volunteering on a week long BSA adult training (wood badge) coming up that spring. Our director of the course was the fire marshal, and gave us regular reports of the investigation.
I remember going to visit my old friend, and cried. Everyone assumed it would be torn down. The expense of rebuilding, and trying to maintain it was high, very high. This was a brick building, many would be damaged, and little was holding it together.
The Announcement and Reconstruction
Everyone wondered what would happen. By March the fire report was done, and the site was turned back over to the church. It was pretty much left. shored up a bit, while they decided what to do. In October of 2011 the leaders of the Church in Salt Lake City announced at a conference it would be rebuilt. The gasps were audible through the auditorium, and some were in tears. It would be re purposed and would serve no longer as a tabernacle for general meeting, but a temple.
The inside walls were sprayed with cement to hold them, they were shored up. The four corner cupolas were removed, one was heavily damaged in the fire and would be rebuilt. Some on the construction crew expected something to break and crumble in the process, but it never did. The supported the base, then excavated underneath. Then stilts held the building some 50 feet in the air to allow for the building to be built under them. This was not a solid structure of large stones, but a wall made of multiple layers of bricks. Some damaged. Anything could have brought it down, but it held together.
The Rising from the Ashes
It took five and a half years to complete the building. Many stories could have been told of that time. I drove by often and took photos of the progress. Later a community celebration was held with the youth performing, telling the story in song/dance of the tabernacle. My two daughters participated.
Today it stands as a monument from the past, modernized for a new use, dozens of marriages take place here every week, and it is not uncommon in the early part of the day to see the bridal parties walking around the building taking photos. Enjoy the grounds. It is at the heart of the rebirth of downtown Provo along with the other large businesses that have made this a thriving city center.
Most see this as a nice old building, a reconstructed building, or a spiritual center, yet, for me this has been a part of my life. I thought of many nice places I could have made a virtual, places that were incredible, but this seemed to be a centerpoint of many times in my life, and in my families. I have tried to avoid being preachy, I just tried to tell the story of the building. If you read this entire thing, thanks for taking the time, for not just doing the logging tasks and walking away.
Virtual Reward - 2017/2018
This Virtual Cache is part of a limited release of Virtuals created between August 24, 2017 and August 24, 2018. Only 4,000 cache owners were given the opportunity to hide a Virtual Cache. Learn more about Virtual Rewards on the Geocaching Blog.