Thursday, July 24, 2014

Preservation Update: Manti Tabernacle Restoration Project

Note: Preservation Updates are a regularly occurring series of posts where I round up recent information on historic LDS buildings and their futures. Depending on the age of the post, there may be newer information available. Click here to see all Preservation Updates.

Happy Pioneer Day! In my post on the Manti Tabernacle, I noted that I had visited the building only a week before it was covered with scaffolding for a renovation project. KSL just covered that project in an article and video on their site.  (In case the link is changed, the story was titled "Manti Tabernacle restoration project underway.")

I love that the Church is carefully restoring the interior to its original appearance. The tabernacle originally had no classrooms; the congregation would divide the chapel with curtains for classes. Eventually, they decided to convert the lower floor into classrooms, which changed the chapel a bit (this information is available in the Manti Tabernacle Centennial Program). In the 1950s, a cultural hall and other offices/classrooms were added on to the back of the building.

Where the addition meets the original building

The article also notes that there are only three 19th-century buildings used for Sunday services. One is the tabernacle in Manti. I'm fairly certain that another is the tabernacle in Morgan, Utah. I'm unsure as to what the third one could be--the original chapel in Snowflake, Arizona was completed in 1884 but burned in 1941 and was replaced using the same walls. I'm assuming that does not count.

In any case, I loved some of the quotes used in the article:

“We don't have the (pioneers') journals, we might not even have photographs of them, but we have the place where they went to church every week and so these few, very few buildings that are still standing — it's important to keep them so we don't forget those memories and that story.” --Emily Utt, Historic Sites Curator

"I think restoring these old buildings helps to connect the generations together. We remember the hard work and sacrifice they put forth — it helps us to take courage and be strong when times get difficult." --Scott Hintze, local Stake Presiden

I'm glad steps are being taken to preserve this beautiful building. I am also excited to see what the finished product will look like--as they said in the video, hopefully we won't notice any difference at all.


  1. I really believe there are more than three 19th century Mormon buildings still used for weekly worship services. The Salt Lake 10th Ward building is among them, as part of the building was constructed in 1873. I am pretty sure the Bountiful Tabernacle is also used for Sunday services, and it was built in the 1850s/1860s.

    1. That's actually a good point! I'm curious as to why they said only three--certainly, the tabernacles in Morgan and Bountiful count. The Tenth Ward chapel is used as a classroom, but I don't see why it shouldn't count. They must have used some other qualifier, I guess.