Sunday, April 23, 2017

Smithfield Tabernacle

The Smithfield Tabernacle took about 20 years to build--it was started in 1881, and not finished until 1902. It was finally dedicated in 1906.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
(Image Source: Church History Library)
It was a standard tabernacle--tall, arched windows that were tinted green, a balcony overlooking the chapel. But in 1951, the congregation it housed moved to a new chapel, and it sat unused for a few years. So the Church converted it to a gym for its youth programs. The windows were bricked in, the interior was made into a gym, and the spires were removed to avoid the appearance of a chapel.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
 The building was deeded to Smithfield City in 1985. It still houses a gym, but it looks a little worse for the wear.

Recently, the city initiated a study concerning the tabernacle and its future. It was determined that it will cost over $1 million to remodel the tabernacle, no matter what it turns into. Fortunately, the study strongly encouraged the city to restore the building to its original appearance, including its windows and spires. No final decision has been made yet--government moves slow--but I hope that this building can be preserved and restored.

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