Salt Lake Tabernacle Interior Photograph: Sabbath School Union Jubilee, July 1875

Most early photographs of the Salt Lake Tabernacle depict a huge, architecturally curious building with relatively few adornments on its exterior or interior. Its oddity sparked the delight of many and the chagrin of many more, causing some travelers and observers to remark that it resembled a large turtle that had lost its way in the desert. However, any disagreement about the exterior of the tabernacle would be mediated by the view of the interior—Mormons and non-Mormons, residents and tourists alike agreed that in its first years the inside seemed gloomy and bare. One visitor described entering the Tabernacle as “entering a vault,” and several members of the Church remarked on the stark, colorless paint and the maze of lumber for the pews.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 42:2
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