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Bountiful Tabernacle to get 're-spired'
by Zachary Todd
Mar 02, 2005 | 2794 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BOUNTIFUL -- Time has not spared the Bountiful Tabernacle's steeple. Despite the building's prestige as the oldest continually used meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the infamous east winds have had their way, buffeting the copper spires year after year. "It's just getting worn out," Bountiful City Council member Tom Tolman said of the steeple.

But help is on the way. Tolman and church officials say the steeple is scheduled for renovation, starting as early as this month.

It's not the first time repairs have been necessary, however. In 1906, the east winds must have been especially cantankerous because they completely wrenched the spires from the top of the building. Despite several attempts, workers weren't able to replace them until 1955.

The meetinghouse -- at the center of town -- has been a local icon since its dedication on March 14, 1863.

"The tabernacle's been the focal point of the community since it was built," Tolman said.

Dave McMillan, President of the Bountiful Stake, will be overseeing the project. He said the steeple renovation --set to begin within 30 days -- won't leave the building looking any different. "When it's done, it ought to look like it does now," he said.

McMillan explained that the church has gone to great pains to make sure the building's appearance remains as the pioneers intended. The outside "skins" will be replaced and seismic work will be done on the timbers of the steeple. There will also be work done on the steeple lighting.

During construction, McMillan said, the scaffolding and exterior wraps will be similar to those currently used for renovations on the State Capitol. The project is expected to take 60-90 days to complete.

Philipoom Construction, the contractor set to do the work, has experience in historical renovations, McMillan said.

The Bountiful Tabernacle's history has been remarkable. According to records, all the church's prophets, except Joseph Smith, have spoken from its pulpit.

Tolman, who's also on the Bountiful Historical Commission, said his great-great-grandfather, Judson Tolman, helped supply the lumber for the building, which was taken from a place called "Meetinghouse Hollow," in Holbrook Canyon. In addition, Tolman said the building's beams have wooden pegs and rawhide straps similar to those used in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

In spite of separation of church and state, according to Tolman, the building was also used for civic activities, including city council meetings and city and county government meetings.

The Bountiful Museum will be seeking to preserve some of the materials taken from the tabernacle during the renovation. And Tolman said the work on the meetinghouse could also pique people's interest in Bountiful history in general. Tolman and others are currently seeking to raise money for a new museum.
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