Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; History; Mormons; Mormon tabernacles – Design and construction; Utah – St. George


American Studies | Cultural History | History | History of Religion | Political History | Social History | United States History


There were generally three different motivations for the construction of a tabernacle in a specific community. The first was that the leadership of the Church in Salt Lake directed communities to build one. Leaders did this in settlements that they believed were to become important central communities for gatherings and large meetings. The decision was also made in areas that the Church desired to strengthen their claim to, legally and emotionally. In 1863, Brigham Young decided that the struggling cotton mission in St. George needed a shot in the arm. To rally the community, he determined that a tabernacle would be constructed. It was to be a monumental structure that would categorically state, “we are here to stay.” This proposed centerpiece of the capitol of Utah’s Dixie would do more than encourage the Saints. The construction would provide work that would maintain the dignity of craftsmen by providing meaningful employment for many struggling to survive in the harsh environment. Though Young did not often subsidize communities, he chose to in this case because of the strategic importance of the colony. In his letter to the colony, he wrote, “I hereby place at your disposal, expressly to aid in the building of afore-said meeting house, the labor, molasses, vegetable and grain tithing of Cedar City and all other places south of that city. I hope you begin the building at the earliest practicable date: and be able with the aid thereby given, to speedily prosecute the work to completion.”