Brigham City Tabernacle
This stately building is one of the finest examples of nineteenth century Latter-day Saint architecture. For more than a century, it has served as a center of Christian worship, cultural enrichment, and community activities. Towering above the trees, it has become one of the principal landmarks of the region.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled this area in 1851, just four years after the arrival of the first pioneers in Salt Lake City. Under the leadership of Elder Lorenzo Snow of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, they built this town at the mouth of Box Elder Canyon, near traditional Shoshone Indian campgrounds and renamed it for the Church president Brigham Young. For many years they worshiped in a log meetinghouse and in the local courthouse, but in 1865 Brigham Young directed Elder Snow and other community leaders to build a tabernacle for conferences of the Box Elder Stake. The local leaders had already selected a site on the corner of Main and Forest Streets in the center of town when President Young visited the community. However, according to tradition, he led them here to “Sagebrush Hill,” the highest point on Main Street and said, “This is the spot for your Tabernacle.” The selection of this site insured that the building would be visible for many miles across the valley. President Young and his territorial surveyor Jesse W. Fox laid the cornerstones on 9 May 1865.
Construction proceeded slowly as local manpower was diverted to completing the transcontinental railroad. Work on the building resumed in earnest in 1876, mostly with donated labor. Local craftsmen used quartzite, sandstone and lumber from the nearby mountains. Women donated produce from their gardens and eggs laid on Sundays to sell for the needed cash for glass and other materials that could not be produced locally. Fourteen years after Brigham Young laid the cornerstone, the first meeting in the partially completed building took place on 27 May 1879.
As originally built, the Tabernacle was sturdy but plain in appearance. However, in 1889, a conference of the Box Elder Stake voted to “complete” the building. In the following months, a tower, a gallery, a rear vestibule, brick buttresses with decorative caps, and other improvements added to beautify the structure. Church President Wilford Woodruff dedicated the finished building 28 October 1890.
On Sunday 9 February 1896, as people began to assemble for afternoon services, a fire started in the furnace room. No one was injured but despite frantic efforts, only smoke-blackened stone walls remained an hour later. Stake President Rodger Clawson supervised reconstruction over the next thirteen months. The new Tabernacle was even finer than the old, with elegant woodwork, a distinctive gothic/revival tower and sixteen graceful pinnacles. On 21 March 1897, George Q. Cannon, First Counselor to President Woodruff, dedicated the rebuilt structure.
Throughout the following years, the people of Brigham City and neighboring towns have preserved and maintained this beloved building. In 1971, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of the first buildings in Utah to be so honored. Beginning in 1985, an extensive restoration project replaced the mechanical and electrical systems, reinforced the structure, and carefully renewed both the exterior and interior to guarantee the continued preservation of this magnificent landmark. The 106-old Tabernacle was rededicated on 12 April 1987 by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, a native of Brigham City.
Box Elder Tabernacle- Built 1867-1890 Pioneer settlers used stone and wood from nearby mountains and their finest craftsmanship to built this place of worship. It was finished and dedicated in 1890. Six years later in 1896, it was gutted by fire and had to be rebuilt. The building was finished and rededicated in 1897.