The Mormon Tabernacle
This is the home of the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Organ. It is known for its dome shape and exceptional acoustic qualities, making it one of the most remarkable buildings in the world.
When it was dedicated on October 9, 1875, it was the largest auditorium in the nation without center support and still remains an architectural wonder. It serves as a venerable gathering place for conferences and concerts, eminent speakers and performing artists. With the exception of Joseph Smith, every President of the Church has spoken from the pulpit in the Tabernacle marking a history stretching from the era of Brigham Young through to the new millennium.
The Saints often held Sunday meetings on Temple Square. Looking to the future, the need arose for a tabernacle to shelter the Saints during large meetings.
After the Tabernacle was rededicated in 2007, President James E. Faust of the First Presidency explained: “Before his death, the Prophet Joseph directed that a canvas tabernacle be built to shelter the Saints during large meetings. In 1845, as the temple was nearing completion, Elder Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve was sent back East to raise funds and to buy ‘about four thousand yards’ of canvas to build what Brigham Young referred to as ‘the Tabernacle of the congregation in Zion.’
“The finished Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City has dimensions roughly similar to the canvas tabernacle contemplated for Nauvoo, and like the proposed Nauvoo tabernacle it also was situated just west of the temple. As with other matters, such as the great migration to the West, Joseph Smith envisioned a great tabernacle, and Brigham Young made it a reality.”
- Constructed from 1863 to 1867, the Tabernacle is the oldest building on Temple Square.
- The Tabernacle is 150 feet wide and 250 feet long with semicircular ends and forty-four sandstone piers supporting the roof.
- The building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970 and as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 1971.
- The Tabernacle Choir performs its weekly national broadcast Music and the Spoken Word each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (MT) in the Tabernacle and rehearses Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Both are free and open to the public.
- Tabernacle organ recitals have been year-round Monday through Saturday at noon and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. An additional recital has been performed Memorial Day through Labor Day, Monday through Saturday, at 2:00 p.m. All are free and open to the public.
The Nauvoo Belltower holds a bell that for years was thought to be the original Nauvoo Bell, which weighed 782 pounds. (When the original Nauvoo Bell cracked, it was going to be melted down and recast, augmented in weight, and hung in Brigham Young’s family school, which stood east of Eagle Gate. However, the bell was lost from history at this point, and it is not known what actually happened to it.) It was later discovered that the bell now on Temple Square was a bell sold to the Church’s tithing clerk in 1850 by a group of men traveling through to California and needing money. It was originally hung in a Presbyterian church in Iowa City by a Michael Hummer. The bell tower (campanile) on Temple Square was built in 1966 and is surrounded with scenes honoring the activities of the Relief Society. The bell is rung hourly as a symbol of religious freedom.