KAYSVILLE — The 100th anniversary of the Kaysville Tabernacle will be observed Sunday, June 1 at 6:30 p.m. with music, remembrances and a recounting of the building’s history.
Ned Roueche, a former bishop and LDS general authority who served when it was decided to restore the building in the 1970s, will speak. Current Kaysville Central Stake President Andrew Seelos will speak. Bill Sanders, curator of the Layton Heritage Museum and a Kaysville resident and historian, will talk about the history of the building.
Prominent Utah architect William Allen designed the building, with the cornerstone laid on Pioneer Day, 1912, Sanders told the Clipper. It had been hoped to have the tabernacle done to coincide with the church’s General Conference in April of 1914, but “there was still some interior work to be completed and the benches hadn’t arrived,” delaying the dedication a couple of months.
The dedication service was spread over three different sessions to accommodate all of those wishing to attend, Sanders said. Originally, Pres. Joseph F. Smith was scheduled to dedicate the building, but he was unable to do so due to illness.
Centerville resident B.H. Roberts, an LDS general authority and a noted author and historian of church history, was a primary speaker, Sanders said. He related experiences of the Mormon Pioneers in settling Utah and Davis County.
“The bricks were yellow and came from the Kaysville brickyard where Bowman’s Market is today,” Sanders said, noting yellow was the signature color for bricks from that brickyard.
One construction tragedy took place during the project, with the death of Alexander Barnes, who was assisting the bricklayers. There was scaffolding surrounding the building and he reportedly stepped backwards and was killed. Sanders related.
The tabernacle included seating for between 800 and 900 people, and was originally used as a stake tabernacle for the Davis Stake. It had a balcony and a cry room, separated from the chapel by a window. According to the Kaysville Weekly Reflex, the structure cost $29,146.
“The walls are unusually massive,” the paper wrote in 1914. “They are four bricks, or 21 inches, in thickness. There are magnificent arched windows in the east and west, with stone-capped pilasters on each side” that were called “striking.” The paper also noted the tabernacle was one of few religious buildings constructed at that time containing stained glass windows.
It included a pipe organ that has been “expanded considerably,” Sanders said, with stake conferences originally held there. In 1951, an addition to the building’s north side added a cultural hall, new Relief Society room, and several classrooms.
There originally was a baptistry in the basement, along with nine classrooms that were used mostly by the auxiliaries.
Originally, an opera house that Sanders called “a major performance place in Utah,” was west of the tabernacle. It had a “wonderful stage” and had also been used as a meeting house at one time. LDS Church officials reportedly said they didn’t want any one ward to have two “recreation halls,” and had it demolished.
“The opera house was on the Bonneville Circuit, had performers coming from all over the country. The people of Kaysville, Layton and Farmington got used to having that facility. Davis High School used it for quite a few of their activities. They ended up building a bigger auditorium,” Sanders said.