PROVO, Utah – If you build it, they will come. That’s what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is hoping as they prepare to unveil the new look of the Old Provo Tabernacle.
In December 2010, LDS faithful watched the beloved Provo Tabernacle, a community gathering place since the 1850s, burn to the ground in a fire ruled to be accidental.
“I remember standing on the sidewalk with so many wonderful people who were taking pictures and crying and asking those questions, 'Will they rebuild?'” said Brent Roberts, Managing Director of the Special Projects Department for the LDS Church.
Church leaders decided to rebuild, and transform the landmark into a temple, the second one in Provo.
Bishop Gerald Causse, Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, says temples are the cornerstone of the LDS religion.
“It's a sacred place for all the members of the church," he said.
Architects, contractors, and historians got right to work.
“We took it basically from those ashes,” said Kirk Dickamore with Jacobsen Construction.
Everything inside the tabernacle was destroyed, but the shell was still in tact.
“What's saved is the outside, the brick, it's a magnificent brick, this old handmade brick, it's so beautiful,” said Roger Jackson, a FFKR Architect and lead architect of the Provo City Center Temple.
Architects wanted to stay true to the roots of the old tabernacle.
“There will be nothing that will be uncomfortable or surprising, it's all finely knitted together, in the character of the building with the furniture, and the design style of the time,” Jackson said.
They relied heavily on historians to capture the unique features of the 126-year-old structure.
“We cataloged and documented thousands of artifacts, thousands of building fragments, just so we could understand what this building looked like before the fire,” said Emily Utt with the LDS Church History Department.
Those involved in the project say the opportunity to make their mark in history was too good to pass up.
“The architecture, design, detail is just unreal,” Dickamore said.
“Our lives are blessed to have the opportunity to build these temples,” Jackson said.
The community will get their first chance to step inside the Provo City Center Temple January 15th at an Open House. The temple will then be dedicated March 20th.