BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL - If its walls could talk, the Bountiful Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could tell thousands of stories of joy and sorrow and of a community’s deep faith.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the tabernacle, 51, S. Main, the oldest LDS chapel in continuous use since it was dedicated.
“There are older (LDS) buildings, they’re just not under LDS jurisdiction anymore longer,” said Tom Tolman, a Bountiful city council member and member of the Bountiful Historical Preservation foundation.
Though a special service was held in March to mark the anniversary, free tours will be held of the facility on July 20, leading into Handcarts Days. Tours begin at 9:30 a.m. and will last about an hour. The last tour is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.
Today the Bountiful 1st, 3rd and 33rd wards of the church meet at the historic landmark, and special events are still held there. But as the center point of Bountiful, the tabernacle was used in its early days for a wide variety of events. City and political meetings were held from time to time, dances and theatrical productions were also held. It even housed a kindergarten for two or three years, until Bountiful and Burton elementary schools could be built, Tolman said.
Ground was broken for the tabernacle on Feb. 11, 1857, by Lorenzo Snow, who was then an apostle in the church, Tolman said.
Lumber and rocks were hauled down what later became known as Holbrook Canyon. The beams were notched to fit together. Pegs and rawhide were used to hold them firmly in place.
“They’re still up there. If you crawl up there, you can see them,” Tolman said.
The foundation of the building was laid. Then, Johnston’s Army entered the valley. To protect the work that had been done from destruction, the ground was covered, so it appeared to be a plowed field, Tolman said.
The tabernacle took six years to build. The adobe bricks were made west of town, probably in the area of today’s 200 West, and kilned near Barton Creek, Tolman said.
“It’s some of the best brick made,” he said.
As worked dragged on, Tolman said that Church President Brigham Young told builders they had to get it done. Anson Call donated money to make that possible, Tolman said.
LDS President Heber C. Kimball, then an apostle, dedicated the tabernacle on March 14, 1863.
In 1906, one of south Davis’ infamous east winds knocked the spires off the building and they remained off until 1955, when they were replaced, Tolman said.
The building underwent a major remodel in 1976-77, and the mural of Joseph Smith was removed. It’s now at the Church History Museum.
A booklet about the tabernacle will be available to those taking the tour.