Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » No, no, no, NO!

No, no, no, NO!

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 17, 2010

The Provo Tabernacle, early this morning:

(picture via KSL)

Aerial video

Fire Burning at Provo Tabernacle (KSL)

Historic Provo Tabernacle Goes Up in Flames (Salt Lake Tribune)

Major Fire at Provo Tabernacle (Daily Herald)

Provo Tabernacle Goes Up in Flames (ABC 4 News)

Provo Tabernacle Burns in Four-Alarm Fire (Deseret News)

YouTube video

Unofficial website (historic articles, Minerva Teichert painting — its status today not yet known)

History of Provo Tabernacle organ

Provo Tabernacle Rededicated (Ensign, 1986)



  1. No, no, no, NO!

    Comment by Left Field — December 17, 2010 @ 6:55 am

  2. sad to see, probably the only truly unique and beautiful buildings in Provo.

    Comment by Dan — December 17, 2010 @ 7:09 am

  3. When I first saw this I was hoping that it was history. Like it happened 100 years ago. But today? So awful! NO!

    Comment by Carol — December 17, 2010 @ 7:13 am

  4. Ardis, Thanks for the links on this. I saw one of KSL’s earliest blurbs very early this morning. Just unbelievable–does not look good . . .

    Comment by Guy Murray — December 17, 2010 @ 7:17 am

  5. So sad to lose such a beautiful old building. I was just talking to my sister the other day about it and she mentioned that the organ in there had previously been in the old Joseph Smith Building on BYU campus.

    My primary memory of the Tabernacle, besides attending Stake Conference there, was singing in and attending the BYU German Department’s annual Adventssingen. They’ve already held it this year (Dec. 5), but I imagine the German Department at BYU will be feeling the loss very deeply.

    Comment by Researcher — December 17, 2010 @ 7:21 am

  6. What a shame! My earliest memories of stake conferences are from that building–the East Provo Stake, Pres. L. Flake Rogers–we always wanted to go up and sit in the balcony, but our parents always insisted that we sit on the main floor.

    Then, seminary graduation in May 1971, to a packed house.

    Later, concerts of the Utah Valley Symphony and performances of Messiah (which probably involved that orchestra and the Ralph Woodward Chorale–memory is weak on that one.

    Blast it, Ardis! You’re supposed to bring us good news on Keepa!

    Comment by Mark B. — December 17, 2010 @ 7:30 am

  7. That’s really too bad. I really hope they can save it.

    Comment by Steve C. — December 17, 2010 @ 7:32 am

  8. This makes me sick. I attended several stake conferences there and drove by daily on my way to campus for most of the six years I spent living in Provo. This is really a big loss for Provo, for Utah, and for Mormonism.

    Comment by Christopher — December 17, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  9. Change and decay in all around I see.

    Comment by John Mansfield — December 17, 2010 @ 8:02 am

  10. This is indeed a tragedy. My wife and I went to the Messiah sing along there for our third date. I also drove by it many, many times while I was attending BYU.

    I was saddened later to see the NuSkin building that was constructed next to it. Provo shouldn’t have allowed that one.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — December 17, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  11. But maybe, Kent, the NuSkin folks could be the salvation of the building. I know the CEO–he’s a generous man and maybe he can lead the way to funding reconstruction (if the Church doesn’t want to use our tithing dollars to do it).

    Comment by Mark B. — December 17, 2010 @ 8:13 am

  12. The NuSkin guys were the ones that cleaned up and restored the trees that blew down on the tabernacle lawn on the 1995 microburst. They were very good neighbors. This would be a bigger project, but it would be neat.

    My first date with my husband was at a concert there.

    Comment by Carol — December 17, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  13. I had the same reaction on seeing this as I did when the Longfellow Chapel in Cambridge burned down. Heartsick. The title is perfect, as it matches what I was screaming inside.

    I hope it is re-built, but I’m not holding out real hope. What a tragedy!

    Comment by Ray — December 17, 2010 @ 8:43 am

  14. A very very sad time. I fondly recall the few times I was able to visit this building while at BYU, especially at Christmastime. What a terrible loss.

    Comment by Tom O. — December 17, 2010 @ 8:43 am

  15. I met my wife there. We ended up sitting next to each other up in the balcony at a musical fireside. Great memories.

    Comment by Clean Cut — December 17, 2010 @ 8:46 am

  16. How sad.

    Comment by Justin — December 17, 2010 @ 9:12 am

  17. Those were my thoughts also as I drove to work and saw smoke coming from…not the tabernacle!

    Comment by UtahMo — December 17, 2010 @ 9:23 am

  18. How sad. My wife and I, as BYU freshman (long before she was my wife) attended an organ recital there the same day I received my patriarchal blessing.

    #9: John Mansfield, sadly, yes.

    Comment by Paul — December 17, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  19. I’ve never actually been in the building myself, but always appreciated it from the outside. There are getting to be fewer of these old church buildings all the time. I hope it can be rebuilt, but I suspect that isn’t likely if the damage is as extensive as the reports are indicating.

    Just from a historical standpoint, these old buildings are a physical symbol of our past and a reminder of the sacrifice of others. Sounds like a lot of folks have some fond memories of the place. I’m upset over the pending removal of the spire from the Ogden tabernacle, so I can only imagine the feelings many of you have for such a devastating loss.

    Comment by kevinf — December 17, 2010 @ 10:08 am

  20. Such a lovely building. I hope they can restore it.

    Comment by Jami — December 17, 2010 @ 10:14 am

  21. Like you, Carol, when I first saw the picture, I hoped it was someone’s nightmare, the picture perhaps the result of the tinkering possible today with photos.

    Tragic. From any point of view, what a major loss: history, architecture, personal memories, civic pride, religious significance. This building was truly beloved.

    Comment by Elouise — December 17, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  22. Researcher: Thanks for reminding me about the Adventssingen in the tabernacle. I went to it a couple of times. It’s not just a loss of a building, rather it’s the loss of the memories it held for so many.

    Comment by Steve C. — December 17, 2010 @ 10:35 am

  23. I read about this first thing this morning. My heart aches–these wonderful examples of early Utah architecture are such important collective treasures.

    Comment by Mina — December 17, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  24. I can’t imagine how many hundreds of times I passed by the tabernacle when I lived in the area. Yet I went inside only once, almost 35 years ago.

    The only consolation I can take in the fire is that the saints who built it 125 years ago would probably be pleased to know that the building would still be much used and much loved in the year 2010.

    Comment by Left Field — December 17, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

  25. Re. #5

    Just to set the record straight, the organ in the old Joseph Smith Building at BYU was dismantled and sold for parts. The “tabernacle connection” is that the organ in the old JSB had come from the Salt Lake Tabernacle when the new organ was installed there in 1948.

    The organ in the Provo tabernacle was originally installed in 1907, and was added onto over the years, and extensively rebuild by Ronald Poll in 1996.

    Comment by Paul S. — December 18, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

  26. I’m just so sad about this. I have several memories of that building. And I always loved driving by it.

    Comment by michelle — December 18, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

  27. And the lead story on KSL is that it’s still burning, with smoke coming from where the organ was.

    Comment by michelle — December 18, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

  28. Thanks for correcting that information, Paul S.

    Comment by Researcher — December 18, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

  29. I just saw an article about how a replication (one of thousands) of the Anderson painting of the second coming was charred except around Jesus. Big Deal. Any word on the fate of the Teichert?

    What kind of god might save a piece of a duplicate and destroy an original Teichert?

    Comment by Left Field — December 19, 2010 @ 6:47 am

  30. I haven’t heard anything, Left Field. But what you’ve said is exactly why I’ve refused to comment on all the “oh, a miracle!” trash that is already out there in the bloggosphere and on FB. And I applaud your upper/lower casing.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 19, 2010 @ 8:23 am

  31. According to some reports, the church took the Anderson print for “restoration.” If true, what a waste of effort and resources! They have one of those in just about every LDS building in the world. Why not just order another one from

    Comment by Left Field — December 19, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

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