SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — After being closed for two years for a seismic upgrade and building restoration, the Salt Lake Tabernacle officially reopened on Saturday.
“With this undertaking, we hope and pray that its historical features have not been destroyed,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley. “It has truly been a centerpiece for this community through all of these many years. It will be used for stake conferences, for public lectures, musical concerts, and other entertainment.”
The Tabernacle was originally completed in 1867 by Mormon pioneers and is one of the most recognizable religious structures in the United States. This was the first major renovation of the Tabernacle in 40 years.
Before the Tabernacle closed in 2005, President Hinckley said, “Buildings, like men, get old. They don’t last forever unless you look after them. I respect this building. I love this building. I honor this building. I want it preserved.”
President Hinckley asked designers to maintain the Tabernacle’s historical integrity while retrofitting the 140-year-old building, bringing the building structurally into the 21st century.
As part of the seismic upgrade:
- Each of the 44 piers of the Tabernacle was reinforced with steel reinforcing bars, and the foundation of each of the piers was reinforced with concrete.
- Structured steel boxes were placed between each of the large rough-sawn timbers connecting the trusses to the reinforced piers, and the steel and timbers were then cinched tightly together with bolts.
- The long trusses spanning the ceiling were also attached to the rough-sawn timbers and cinched tightly to them using structured steel.
Additionally, new stairways were installed, the ceiling was re-patched, and many pews that were in disrepair were replaced. New plumbing and electrical systems were installed throughout the building, as well as new lighting and audio equipment. Organ pipes received new gold leafing, and a special orchestra staging area was added along with new choir offices and a new music library.
Roger Jackson, the restoration architect for the project, said, “The building is an important part of the heritage and culture of the city, the Church and the United States. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind treasure.”
There have been several remodel projects in the Tabernacle’s history prior to the 2005 project:
- In 1870, a new balcony was added.
- In 1915, the organ was enlarged. (This has been done more than once during the Tabernacle’s history.)
- In 1965, the rostrum was redesigned.
- In 1967, a basement was excavated and finished.