Bountiful Tabernacle 1857

  • Architect: Augustus Farnham.
  • Groundbreaking 1857.
  • Dedicated 14–15 March 1863 by Heber C. Kimball
  • Style: Greek Revival

The Bountiful Tabernacle is the LDS church’s oldest surviving tabernacle and an early example of Greek Revival architecture in Utah. It is noteworthy for its strange tower, crowded with five large spires. It’s possible that Augustus Farnham had seen church architect Truman Angell’s 1853 drawings for the towers of the Salt Lake Temple, which also feature a central spire surrounded by four smaller spires.

Boston Old Masonic Temple

The towers of both the Salt Lake Temple and the Bountiful Tabernacle may share a common source of inspiration in Boston’s Old Masonic Temple, which was a rare example of the “castellated gothic” style in America. Its influence on the Salt Lake Temple was first suggested by Laurel Anderson in her book Early Temples of the Mormons. She noted that Brigham Young had been a missionary and a freemason in Boston and would have seen or even attended meetings in the Old Masonic Temple. Augustus Farnham grew up in Andover, a suburb of Boston and may have been familiar with the architecture of the Old Masonic Temple. In any case, the Bountiful Tabernacle’s tower is highly unique and brings to mind the idea of a “torch,” or perhaps an altar for sacrifice, with the spires suggestive of flames of fire.

Up until 1976, the chapel of the Bountiful Tabernacle featured a large mural of a bust of the prophet Joseph Smith directly behind the rostrum. It is one of many early LDS meetinghouses that featured murals in its chapels, suggesting a religious culture was at one time open to the role of “iconography” in worship services.

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