Sunday, November 15, 2015

A History of LDS Tabernacles: Part 7 - Sold!

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.

In 2002, it appeared that the future of the Blackfoot Tabernacle was again in doubt. The building had been sold in 1980 and used as the county offices, but the county noted that the building had become "a white elephant--more expensive than beneficial" ("Ex-Blackfoot tabernacle goes on auction block", Deseret News, April 22, 2002).

Across the street sat the Hawker-Hill-Sandberg funeral home. The owner, Perry Hawker, decided to try purchasing the property, and was able to do so for $100,000 (even though the commissioners had asked for a minimum bid of $150,000). Over the next year, it was remodeled to serve as a funeral home, while they did their best to preserve the historical appearance. The tabernacle continues to serve as a funeral home today, retaining its spot on the National Register.

The Hawker Funeral Home continues to serve the Blackfoot community.
Tabernacle have been sold to a variety of owners. You can die and be transported to the former tabernacle in Blackfoot--or, if you want to live in a tabernacle, you can live in a condo at the former tabernacle in Lethbridge, Canada.

Three tabernacles are owned by the city--those in Smithfield, Heber, and Rexburg. Each serves a different purpose. The one in Heber acts as city offices. The one in Rexburg is a community center. The one in Smithfield is a recreation center, although the city is currently studying what the building's future will be.

The tabernacle in Parowan, owned by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, is a museum; artifacts, quilts, and portraits are crammed into every aisle.

The Parowan Tabernacle as a museum. For more photos, select "Parowan Tabernacle" on the right of the blog.
Other groups use tabernacles, too. The tabernacle in Oakland is used by the Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church. On the opposite side of the country, the tabernacle in Jacksonville, Florida serves as the headquarters for the Junior League of Jacksonville, a women's organization. And in Ely, Nevada, the tabernacle serves as a fine arts center, home of their community choir.

In these tabernacles that were sold, you see the same determination to save the building that you see in the stories of Heber and Bountiful. In Wellsville, a non-profit group owns the tabernacle, which is currently closed, as they are trying to raise $150,000 to repair the roof. The building has been closed for a couple of years, now; the group has raised over one-third of the funds needed. The title of their campaign? "Save the Wellsville Tabernacle."

The Wellsville Tabernacle continues to dominate the city's landscape, even when it's closed.
More tabernacle may be sold in the future. However, the majority remaining in Church possession are cared for quite well. The Church had a period of destruction. It had a period of sales. Now, it has a period of restoration.

Next: Part 8 - Renovations and Preservations

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