Photos by Alisha Gallagher
The Provo City Center Temple has a long history — at least for Utah County.
When the Provo Tabernacle burned down in Dec. 2010, Utah County mourned the loss of its historical building. Then in the October 2011 general conference LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced that the Provo Tabernacle would be rebuilt as a temple.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have been involved in the process,” said Bishop Causse, the presiding bishop for the LDS Church. “We needed historians, archeologists, architects and contractors who worked all together hand in hand along with the Church and the Presiding Bishopric to design a temple to be a tribute to the Lord and also a testimony of the early saints who built the original tabernacle.”
Because people acted quickly to preserve and record the history of the Provo Tabernacle, the Provo City Center Temple is a blast from the past.
The Provo City Center Temple’s open house won’t begin until Jan. 15, 2016 and will run until March 5, but the Church gave the media a chance to walk temple grounds and learn more about the architectural preservation of the Provo Tabernacle. Here are eight facts and pictures that connect the history of the Provo Tabernacle to the future of the Provo City Center Temple.
1. If the walls could talk
After the fire ignited in the Provo Tabernacle on Dec. 17, 2010, everything burned except for the four exterior walls. Those walls had five bricks thick. The walls were stabilized in order to preserve the tabernacle.
2. Holiness to the Lord
While the Provo City Center Temple appears the same as the Provo Tabernacle, the major difference is the addition of the phrase used on every LDS temple, “Holiness to the Lord.”
“It’s been a long and complex process because of the transformation of the old tabernacle into a temple, so in a way we elevated the purpose of the building to a higher purpose as the house of the Lord,” Bishop Causse said.
3. Brick by brick
The bricks on the Provo City Center Temple look new, but they are actually the original exterior bricks from the Provo Tabernacle. Over time, the bricks had darkened before the Provo Tabernacle burnt down.
“If you look at it you’ll say, ‘I don’t remember the tabernacle looking like that,’ said Brent Roberts, managing director of special projects for the LDS Church. “Neither did we, but we were able through some great work on masonry from some local masonry companies to go in, clean the brick … which changed and lifted the whole color of the temple.”
The four towers in the corners of the temple help secure and support the walls.
5. Return of the tower
The Angel Moroni statue was placed on the Provo City Center Temple on March 31, 2014 on top of the central tower. Roger Jackson, the principal architect with FFKR, said the tower wasn’t part of the tabernacle when it burned down.
“The tower had been gone 98 years, so with the thought to put the tower back we really had to study old photos and make sure that it would fit and that it would match what the historic tower was,” Jackson said. “Some of it was sleuthing out what is, what was and taking that into what it can become.
Underneath the gazebo on temple grounds is an underground parking garage.
7. Foundation of preservation
The Victorian styles that were originally in the Provo Tabernacle have been carried over into the temple.
8. Knocking on history’s door
“We had a team doing research on all the pieces,” Jackson said. “The contractor would bring something out on the way to the dump. We would look at everything and many things were saved.
“We were trying to document every little thing that we could. And there was a mad scrabble to gather all the historical photos that we could to make sure that whatever we could put back would be compatible.”