Newly renovated St. George Tabernacle opens to public tours

After an extensive renovation project, the St. George LDS Tabernacle opened its doors for public tours, St. George, Utah, July 23, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The newly renovated St. George Tabernacle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened its doors for public tours Monday.

Visitors tour main chapel area of St. George Tabernacle. After an extensive renovation project, the building opened its doors for public tours, St. George, Utah, July 23, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Dozens of community leaders and elected officials, along with members of the St. George Interfaith Council and their families, toured the nearly 150-year-old historic structure, built by Mormon settlers starting in 1863 and completed more than a decade later.

From the hardwood floors and benches to the distinctive spiral staircases and chandeliers, the iconic landmark has been given a fresh look inside and out, all while retaining its historic character.

The three main chandeliers, which once held flame-lit oil lamps, were once controlled by hand-cranked pulleys. Now, electronic winches raise and lower the chandeliers, making them accessible so light bulbs can be changed.

Restorers even strived to make the finishing coats of paint faithful to the original colors used by the early pioneers.

Read more: St. George Tabernacle receives fresh coat of historically accurate paint

After an extensive renovation project, the St. George LDS Tabernacle opened its doors for public tours, St. George, Utah, July 23, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

On the building’s east end, a small entryway houses a new exhibit of historic artifacts associated with the tabernacle, including a sandstone box, called a record stone, that was hidden inside a wall near the southeast corner when the building was first dedicated. The capsule and its water-damaged contents – a set of LDS scriptures, a newspaper and a bottle of wine – were rediscovered when restoration work began in 2016. The box’s badly deteriorated contents have been left as-is, under a display case.

Another item of interest tour visitors will see is a historic photo taken in 1950 of St. George LDS 5th Ward’s Primary children and their teachers. The number-coded picture includes the names of nearly all of the 95 people in the photo, representing various notable individuals in the St. George community.

Public tours, which include a guided walk-through of the building’s basement and main floors, continue Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The building will be closed to the public Friday as workers clean and prepare it for its official rededication Saturday at 10 a.m. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – one of the Primary kids pictured in the 1950 group photo – will be one of the speakers during the hourlong program, after which he will formally dedicate the building.

Seating inside the tabernacle for the rededication event is by invitation only and requires a special ticket for entrance. About 1,000 tickets were distributed, church officials said.

Those without tickets, including members of the general public, are invited to attend the live closed-circuit broadcast of the event at two LDS chapels in St. George: the chapel located at 166 S. Main St. and the chapel located at 550 E. 700 South. Seating is available on first-come basis. Participants are requested to be in their seats by 9:30 a.m. Sunday dress is preferred.

Tour visitors check names on a 1950 photo of Primary children taken inside the St. George Tabernacle. After an extensive renovation project, the building opened its doors for public tours, St. George, Utah, July 23, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

During his tour of the building Monday, The Rev. Jimi Kestin, pastor of Solomon’s Porch Foursquare Fellowship, said he was impressed by the attention to detail, particularly in the woodwork.

“We look forward to having Prayer Over The City return to this special place on New Years Day,” Kestin wrote in a post on Facebook shortly after he and other Interfaith Council members completed their tour.

“A place like this really is the heart of the community,” Emily Utt, curator of LDS Church historic sites, said as she led St. George News on a tour of the building’s attic.

Near the ceiling of the attic, near the steeple on the building’s east side, a single charred wooden beam is the only visible remnant of a lightning-caused fire that occurred last September. Workers in the building saw and heard the lightning strike, and firefighters responded quickly to help minimize the damage, Utt said.

Read more: Lightning strikes St. George Tabernacle, starts blaze

“Nobody was injured and damage was minimal,” she said. “It didn’t delay the restoration project at all.”

The building, whose official address is 18 S. Main St., is at the literal center of town, Utt said, adding that the building’s rich history as a community event center is expected to continue as before.

Starting next week, the tabernacle will be open to the public for regular tours and community events.

For more information about the St. George Tabernacle and its renovation, including historic photos, visit the church’s website about the building and its history.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Marduk July 23, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    Nice all-seeing eye up there, a little not-so-subtle reminder that Jesus watches when you masturbate to Satan’s filthy internet porn videos.

  • Jmfixitman July 23, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Well we are the number 1 state for porn searches… And suicides. Hmmmm

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