Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Piece of Provo's History

Wednesday night Kent and I were with some friends who mentioned that BYU had excavated the foundation of a tabernacle that was built by the pioneers before the current (old) Provo Tabernacle. The foundation has laid underneath a park to the north of the standing tabernacle. Our friends said it was worth seeing while it was still exposed.

Today, I happened to be driving downtown around 3:00 p.m. and decided to take a detour to check out the site. Half of the excavation pit was filled in with dirt, but I could see the four-feet-thick walls of the north end of the foundation, along with the remains of two entrances that had led directly to the basement. I was strolling along the fence, reading posted signs about the history of the first tabernacle, when a bulldozer that had been running in the background drove up and dumped a load of dirt on the foundation. It probably shouldn't have shocked me, but it did. I thought, "I wish I had my camera! I should definitely bring it and the kids to see this tomorrow before it's covered back up." I was also struck by the irony that weeks of careful digging and dusting dirt away from the limestone was being unceremoniously reversed by a bulldozer.

Tonight, just six hours later, I was driving the whole family home along Univerity Avenue and decided the foundation would be just as interesting to see in the dark. So we parked at the site, unpiled from the car, and discovered that the whole pit had been filled in. I had been lucky enough to get a last-chance glimpse at a piece of history that will likely never be unearthed again. The site will be under the grounds of the new Provo City Center Temple.

Following are some articles that I found interesting about the old tabernacle. One of them states that the foundation stones were donated to Provo City, and that the pit would be filled in after the stones were removed. I'm here to tell you that if some of the stones had been removed, there is still a good, recognizable portion of foundation under there. Because I get a little sentimental about community history, I'm glad my friends mentioned it, and I'm more glad that I saw it when I did.

Provo Tabernacle Archaeological Work Almost Done

'Old Tabernacle' Excavation at Provo Temple Site Called a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Archaeology Students Make Surprising Finds at Tabernacle Dig Site


Pam Williams said...

There's something of the miraculous in this whole enterprise. It's as if the fire were the cleansing phase of this project to give us another temple in Provo.

Kent White said...

I like to call it the templenacle.

Paul said...

I went by about 1:30 on Thurs. as they were filling in the hole. The southern half of the foundation had been removed.

Temple groundbreaking is may 12 at 9 a.m. Convention Center grand opening-public open house is the same day, 10 to 4 - it promises to be a big day for Downtown Provo!