Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Old Provo Tabernacle

Ben and I visited the tabernacle grounds in Provo.
An older building was built before the newer tabernacle,
which was completed in 1898 but burned in 2010.
The remains of the older building lie
directly north of the tabernacle,
which will soon be rebuilt into a temple.
This photo looks east.
Construction on the older tabernacle began in 1856
and took 11 years to complete.
At that time the building was already too small.
Ground-penetrating radar indicated where the foundation
of the old tabernacle was buried.
I stood at the north side of the foundation to take this photo.
The building, seen from the north in this photo,
had a basement which could be entered from either side.
The foundation walls can be seen here.
They were originally 12 feet high.
This space in front of the foundation wall
was reached by the stairwells seen in the photo above.
Of the two sets of stairs which led into the basement,
only the west steps remain.
The eastern stones were missing when
the archaeologists dug down.
The archaeologists believe this north section of the basement
was used to store coal to heat the building.
Traces of coal remained,
and the coal dust appeared to have filtered through
a wooden floor, which has completely deteriorated.
A closer look shows the gray color from the coal dust,
which left a layer of its own for the archaeologists to uncover.Rock from the foundation walls was removed
from the basement by the archaeologists.
The early pioneers quarried these large stones for the basement.
Two center stone walls helped support the building.
The wooden floor joists rested
on top of stone foundation walls rising from the basement.
There is no evidence that this portion
of the basement had a wooden floor of its own.
These round stones supported large wooden columns
which held up two balconies on the east and west sides of the building.
The archaeologists were all BYU archaeology majors,
graduate students, or interns.
There were no novices involved with the dig,
except for the opinions expressed by the onlookers.
Thousands of nails have been excavated,
including this one which was recovered while I watched.
Some of the nails were quite large.
Slate pencils were found in a lower level of the dig,
separated from more recent items
which were likely not associated with the use of the building.
These jewelry items were also found.
Among the recovered items was this 1892 silver dime.
I learned that the indentation in a brick is called a frog.
The fountain pen has an intact writing nib.
Several horseshoes were found.
And a bullet.
I could not identify this disc.
The archaeologist didn't know what it was, either.
I wondered if it was a canning lid,
but I could not find a match online.
Some of the items in this photo involve electricity.
The basement had electric lights during its last 10 years of operation.
All of the dirt from the foundation has been sifted.
Ben and I were really impressed and had a great afternoon!
The dig will close in a few days in preparation
for the groundbreaking of the temple.