My Views of Utah

Provo Tabernacle Fire

Provo, Utah

Photos taken 17 Dec 2010 & 13 Feb 2011

Photos by Venita*


small map I was born in Provo, Utah. The stately LDS Tabernacle, located on the corner of University Avenue and First South, has always been a touchstone for me. I’ve been in the building many times for occasions ranging from Stake Conferences through High School Graduation to musical performances, either as part of the audience or as part of the performing group. One of my earliest recollections of being there was the year I turned eight years old. It was my birthday, Easter, and Conference, all on the same day. Mama had given me a spring coat for the occasion, then she took my hand and we walked the seven blocks from home to the Tabernacle. It was a beautiful spring day. I don’t remember anything about the speakers, but I do remember the surprising snow we walked home through at lunchtime. My new spring coat was not quite warm enough for that weather.

All of Utah was shocked when we learned that our beloved tabernacle was on fire. I learned of it that morning, after it had been burning since before dawn. I grabbed my camera and drove as close to the scene of the disaster as possible, then joined other stunned photographers in taking photos of an event that couldn’t be happening. Many photos have been posted on a variety of websites. (To find more, Google “Provo Tabernacle Fire” then click “Images.”) I feel compelled to add a few of mine to the lot, along with a few taken almost exactly two months later. It was the Sunday scheduled for our Stake Conference, which should have been held there. The reality of the loss hit me hard, again.

Provo Tabernacle, August 2002.

Fire photos were taken about 9:00 a.m., Dec. 17, 2010

No one is on the ladder. It has been left to continually pour water on the collapsing wooden structures inside the walls.

Fresh snow on the ground and icicles on the fire hydrant attest to the morning temperature.

One can see the depth of the falling debris through the open tabernacle doors. At this point, most of the stained glass windows in this wall are still in tact.

This water stream is shooting directly into the part of the building where the fire may have started. Notice the empty window frames here and the smoke stains at their tops. Also notice the bent and broken trees, overburdened by water and ice.

The smoke and clouds create an aura of gloom around Avard Fairbank’s sculpture of a Mormon Family which seems to be watching from across the street.

(Post-fire photos taken about 9:00 a.m. Feb. 13, 2011.)
Debris removed from the building has been collected inside a fence on the north side of the remains. Notice the stacks of bricks along the fence.

Steel scaffolding has been erected to protect the compromised walls.

The view of the east side, the entrance, accentuates the loss of pioneer-era stained glass windows. Luckily, some survive in the towers.

Clean up and recovery equipment stand inside temporary fencing on the south side, resting on Sunday, but ready for another day’s work tomorrow. The NuSkin corporate building in the background provides a dramatic contrast in architecture.

From their spot on the Courthouse lawn, the “Mormon Family” continue their observance of the developments across the street.


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*Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this website were taken by Venita, who also holds the copyright. Should you wish to download any of them for any reason (other than your own enjoyment), please credit  Venita  as the photographer and add my URL: http://www.venitap.com/home.html

Comments are appreciated!


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