Thursday, October 29, 2015

Logan Fourth Ward: Chapel Interior

This chapel is beautiful. At the front are some stained glass windows, and more ornate ones are high on the sides of the chapel. There is a beautiful sounding pipe organ that I took the opportunity to play, too. The floor gently slopes toward the pulpit.

At the back is a mural of Cache Valley pioneers (I'll provide detailed pictures of it later):

The mural was originally at the front of the chapel, where the stained glass is now, as you can see from this old picture:

(Image Source: Church History Library)

The mural was moved to a back in a later renovation, as seen below. I guess I'm OK with this, only because it was replaced with stained glass, and it stayed in the chapel.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Also, here's a picture I found where wooden beams around the ceiling and walls were removed. The mural was already in the back at this time, too. I'm wondering if they weren't removed at some point and put back in later.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

In any case, my next few posts will focus on details of this chapel.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Logan Fourth Ward

Built in 1927, the Logan Fourth Ward has received many additions and changes over the years, but it is still a remarkable building, with beautiful woodwork, stained glass, and a mural in the chapel. I will be highlighting this building over the next few posts.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A History of LDS Tabernacles: Part 4 - "Tear Down & Start Over"

Note: This is a series on the history of the preservation and destruction of LDS Tabernacles. To see a full list of the posts in this series, click here.

For a Google Map that lists all of the tabernacles and their locations, click here.

Built at the turn of the century, the old tabernacle in Lehi stood near the center of town, its 112-foot tower sticking above the business and homes. But it was now 1963, and it looked like the tabernacle was again under threat of being replaced.

The tabernacle had first been sold in 1920 after the local Church authorities determined that it was simply too expensive to keep up. The building was purchased by the Alpine School District, continued to deteriorate, and was purchased back by the Church (it cost $500 to buy the building back, but over $40,000 for necessary repairs).

But now, years later, the tabernacle was again considered too expensive to maintain. So, in 1962, even after concerned members advocated other options, it came crashing down and was replaced. A local member wrote a short poem about the building:

"It stood silent as a sentinel
’twas a beacon in the sky
That old building now had been torn down
And I’ll forever wonder why.”

Lehi Tabernacle (Image Source: Church History Library)
The Lehi Tabernacle was only one of many that came tumbling down during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Some concerned Church leaders wrote to another ward that was considering the future of its own tabernacle, warning them that the current philosophy of the Church was to "tear down and start over, and never to preserve."

The following tabernacles, as far as I can tell, were intentionally demolished during this period of Church history (others were destroyed in this time period, but those were all by accident, whether by fire, earthquake, or other causes). Each one has its own story; each one was deeply loved by the local community.

Ephraim          1954
Cardston, AB      1954
Atlanta, GA      1954
Grace, ID          1960
Mesa, AZ          1961
Lehi              1962
Ogden (Original) 1971
Coalville          1971
Willard              1974
La Grande, OR    1977
Rigby, ID          1980
Payson                1980

The records show that there were very few cases where local members didn't put up some resistance. Residents in Ephraim were told that their tabernacle was structurally deficient; still, a local newspaper was quick to point out that the first round of dynamite only dislodged one stone from the tower. In Cardston, a member wrote an editorial criticizing their tabernacle's upcoming demolition, arguing, “Why should we abandon it and tear it down? A few thousand dollars well spent would put the building in first class condition.…Our tabernacle is not expendable."

Ephraim Tabernacle (Image Source: Church History Library)
The story was same in other places. Church leaders in La Grande wrote letters to the Church Building Committee, asking that their tabernacle be preserved as a historical site (none of their letters were answered). One woman in Payson stood on the steps of the tabernacle to delay the wrecking crew from bringing down the building (she was convinced to leave by a local leader). A high school student in Rigby, Idaho, wrote a poem to describe her feelings on the loss of their tabernacle:

I passed by the scene of destruction today,
And I wondered what the people would say
Who built up so tall to stand
A monument to God and Land.

I wonder what their eyes would say
As the bulldozer clawed their labor away?
Only to leave the lone white star
That now stands sadly and leads no where.

Would the pioneers’ voices cry and shout
As the tawny orange-yellow flame broke out
To singe the stones and blacken the sky?
Would they yell in a giant chorus, “Why?”

Would those for whom life was a daily struggle
Condone as right this smouldering rubble?
Or do I hear a voice in the timber’s glow
Calling, “Change is not always progress, you know?”

I wonder?
I wonder?

Rigby Tabernacle (Image Source: Church History Library)
Undoubtedly, the most controversial razing occurred in Coalville, where preservation groups focused their efforts on preserving the town's spired building that contained so much local history. The Stake President, initially in favor of preservation, eventually became convinced that the tabernacle's replacement was the only correct decision. Preservationist groups held protests, raised funds to try and save the building, and even were able to stall the demolition with a court order. All of those efforts were futile, and in 1971, the building came down. The large stained glass windows were moved to the new building built on the same site, a reminder of what once was.

Coalville Tabernacle (Image Source: Church History Library)
If Coalville wasn't a terrible sign for the preservationists, the demolition of the original pioneer tabernacle in Ogden (only a few months later) was. Stake leaders (perhaps hoping to avoid the publicity of Coalville) met privately, concluded that the tabernacle should be razed, and did not announce the decision until demolition was underway. One local member complained, “Local Church members were given no opportunity whatsoever to vote or otherwise express their will in the matter. The decision was made by the stake presidents…at a closed meeting."

The demolitions of these decades were marked by one notable holdout, in Heber City. This case will be studied later in the series. Still, even as Heber stood, tabernacles in other areas were coming down in greater numbers than ever before. What were the reasons for the demolitions? And, perhaps more commonly asked, "Who was to blame?"

Next: Part 5 - Who's to Blame?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"Those Who've Gone Before": Union Stake Tabernacle Stained Glass

This series honors LDS Architecture that is no longer standing. To see all the posts in this series, click here.

The sun shines brightly through stained glass in the Elgin, Oregon meetinghouse. The glass came from the Union Stake Tabernacle in La Grande, Oregon, which was demolished in 1977. LDS Chapels in Baker City, Halfway, Enterprise, Elgin, Pendleton, Pilot Rock, and La Grande all have some stained glass that was salvaged from the tabernacle.

This window was placed above the main entry to the chapel. It may not blend in with the original building all that well, but at least it's there!

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Incidentally, I also found this image of the Elgin Building. This must be a classroom or other smaller window, but I wasn't able to find out which one.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Here's a picture of the old tabernacle in La Grande, Oregon:

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Provo Third Ward: Stained Glass Details

When I first came into the chapel, the lights were off, providing a beautiful view of the stained glass. I couldn't help but take lots of pictures.

Of course, the window at the front is the one that used to fill the main window of the old chapel.

Looking through the main window, you can see a small closet where they keep some items, including some extra stained glass that I guess they don't have anywhere else to put. It's really too bad that such historic stained glass is collecting dust in a closet...I can't complain, seeing as they've used most of it.

The only other stained glass windows in the chapel is above the door, and one window by the sacrament table:

 The organ is also magnificent:

There are some other pipes hiding back there.

A small plaque on the organ reads, "Presented by the Meservy Family, in memory of Edwards Southwick Meservy; installed February 20, 1953." So this organ was also moved over from the old chapel.

And the rest of the stained glass windows are on the rooms lining the west and north sides of the meetinghouse. These are mostly bishop's and clerk's offices. One classroom, the mother's room, and the relief society room have the rest.

These windows are all so beautiful. I'm so glad to see them used to continue to uplift latter-day saints who meet here.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A History of LDS Tabernacles: Part 3 - The End of an Era

Note: This is a series on the history of the preservation and destruction of LDS Tabernacles. To see a full list of the posts in this series, click here.

For a Google Map that lists all of the tabernacles and their locations, click here.

The Cedar City Tabernacle had stood at the center of the city since 1885, housing conferences and other Church activities. But in 1932, it was proposed that the tabernacle and its plot of land be sold to make way for a post office. Many members weren't happy, and the decision was accompanied by major dissent and protest. After all, why tear the tabernacle down? It was sturdy, it fulfilled its purpose, and it had not been replaced. (Indeed, when the tabernacle was ultimately razed in 1932, the Cedar City First Ward had to built a new chapel down the street, which still stands today.) None of this mattered, and the opposition ultimately failed. The tabernacle came down; a post office came up.

Ideally, a large majority of historic structures--religious or not--would be preserved for future generations. But practically, this is nearly impossible to achieve. Buildings decay and crumble; they are too small or too large; and most of all, they are expensive to maintain. All of these problems applied to LDS Tabernacles, particularly as the years passed by and they continued to age.

Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles was that tabernacles were not built to house modern Church auxiliaries and programs. Tabernacles were just large chapels--there were no (or very few) classrooms, no cultural halls, and no offices. This means that tabernacles needed to be renovated or receive additions in order to continue working--and that's expensive.

One example occurred in 1923, the members in Manti realized that their tabernacle had to be renovated. The building had no classrooms or offices; they had gotten by with curtains that divided the chapel into smaller spaces. So the chapel was completely remodeled, allowing classrooms and offices to be built on the ground floor. The members, aware of the building's history and attached to what it stood for, said that they felt “the [renovation] as painfully as if their own limbs were being severed."

Another example occurred in 1941, when the Coalville Tabernacle was entirely too small for the members who used it. The members were still too attached for the building for it to come down, however--one memoir states that at the meeting where it was proposed, members were standing and shouting in opposition, and "confusion reigned." The tabernacle was saved; a second floor was added, cutting the tall ceiling of the chapel below in half.

The ceiling in this photo originally belonged to the Coalville Tabernacle's chapel, not the cultural hall.

In the 1920s, six tabernacles were extensively renovated; by the 1950s, ten were being remodeled. But the renovation trend was dying; demolitions were rising: in the 1920s, three tabernacles were razed; in the 1950s, six came down.

Why not continue to remodel? For one thing, the Church was beginning to struggle financially by the end of the 1950s--not because of a lack of income, but because of growing, unmanageable spending, mostly toward BYU and new Church buildings. Indeed, the Church found itself in deficit spending. In many cases, it would be cheaper to tear down a tabernacle and build a new building than to preserve it.

And so, by the 1950s, the era of renovations was largely done, taken over by an era of replacement.

But that's not the only era that ended. The building of tabernacles sharply dropped off after the 1920s--only 5 tabernacles were built in the 1930s. One was built in the 1940s. In 1953, the tabernacle in Ogden, standing on the same block as their pioneer tabernacle, was built and dedicated. It would be the last true tabernacle ever built by the Church. The era of tabernacles had ended, and for the next few years, it would seem like no tabernacle was safe.

Next: Part 4 - "Tear Down & Start Over"

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Provo Third Ward: Stained Glass

Simple stained glass used to grace the windows of the Provo 3rd Ward building. They were installed around 1941 or 1942. Verl G. Dixon noted that he made full scale drawings on brown paper of each different design. But, if you drive past the building now, it's no longer there. I'd assumed it had been put into storage or (worse) destroyed.

That is, until I ran past this chapel on 400 N and 700 W in Provo (literally, I was running past it) when I noticed the windows on the west side.

Yep, the stained glass was moved to this chapel when it was built. So, the next day, I went to visit the chapel itself.

Looks normal, right?

Nope. This stunning sight is at the front of the chapel.

It appears that the stained glass is lit from behind. I also took a lot of pictures with the lights off, which was how I first saw it. Since I took so many, though, I'll save them for my next post.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A History of LDS Tabernacles: Part 2 - Early & Accidental Demolitions

Note: This is a series on the history of the preservation and destruction of LDS Tabernacles. To see a full list of the posts in this series, click here.

For a Google Map that lists all of the tabernacles and their locations, click here.

The razing of LDS tabernacles is nothing new; they've been torn down since the early days of the church.  Of course, when we think of LDS Tabernacles, we picture the soaring pipes of the tabernacle in Salt Lake, the beautiful spiral staircases of the tabernacle in St. George, or the colorful stained glass of the tabernacle in Logan. However, many early tabernacles weren't particularly ornate or elaborate; they were simpler structures, reflecting the poverty of the Saints that built them (and also reflecting the broader use of the term 'tabernacle' in the early days of the Church). This probably contributed to the fact that so many of them were torn down without much protest.

For example, the first tabernacle built in Utah was located where the Assembly Hall now stands. It was a simple adobe structure--and it quickly became too small, hence the construction of the newer, now-famous tabernacle to its north, and eventually the Assembly Hall, which took its place.
Other tabernacles were also simple. The tabernacle in Springville was rather plain and small. The first tabernacle built in Provo was also too small by the time it was completed. That is not to say that these structures were ugly--they were plain, but they had their own beauty.

(Snowville, AZ Tabernacle; Image Source: Richard Jackson, Places of Worship)
 (Original Provo Tabernacle; Image Source)

Still, as the Church grew in wealth and size, these tabernacles often became inadequate, and so they were often replaced. At least 8 locations had one tabernacle replace another; in some locations, both tabernacles stood for a period of time. These included Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo, Kaysville, Richfield, and other cities.

Not all tabernacles were replaced because they were too small or simple. The Granite Stake Tabernacle was a beautiful building, but it was torn down and replaced with a new tabernacle that is just as beautiful (although in different ways).
(Original Granite Stake Tabernacle; Image Source)
(New Granite Stake Tabernacle; Image Source)

It seems that, because most of the tabernacles were simple (and, at the time, not particularly historical) and often replaced with other elaborate buildings, there wasn't very much protest to their being destroyed. One historian noted that when the original Provo Tabernacle was torn down, "no opposition to the plan was advanced...the modern-day movement to preserve significant pioneer-day structure apparently had not surfaced at that time" (La Verl Christensen, Provo's Two Tabernacles).

It appears the buildings were more expendable at that period of time. For example, the tabernacle in Parowan was abandoned in the early twentieth century; not only was it left empty, but members would tear wood off from the building to use for fuel. Not until the tabernacle was purchased by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers organization was it preserved.

(The Parowan Tabernacle sits abandoned and abused; Image Source: Church History Library)

Even if tabernacles weren't expendable, many came down because of natural calamities. The tabernacle in Richmond came down in an earthquake. Many tabernacles burned down: the combination of wood structures and rudimentary heating methods led to many fires. The buildings in Paris, Logan, and Provo (prior to 2010) all experienced fires that were put out before the building burned down (in the case of Logan, the flames were batted out with a heavy carpet from the Relief Society). Tabernacles in Snowflake (AZ) and Brigham City were rebuilt after they burned down. Other tabernacles--in Payson, Moroni, Thatcher (AZ), or Oakley (ID), among others--were never rebuilt after they burned down.
 (The tabernacle in Thatcher, AZ, burned down in 1981; Image Source: Church History Library)

 (Image of bench from original tabernacle; Image Source: Church History Library)

And, in spite of the building skills of the pioneers, some tabernacles were unsafe or had structural problems. The stake records for the Sevier stake (in Richfield) noted that the first tabernacle there was abandoned because, at the last meeting there, "a large piece of ceiling…fell, causing considerable fright and nearly creating a panic among the audience" (Richard Jackson, Places of Worship).

Still, as the Church entered the twentieth century, renovations would become increasingly common. Renovation after renovation, it seemed, was the best way to save a tabernacle.

Next: Part 3 - The End of an Era