Design and Construction of the Great Tabernacle Arches | BYU Studies

Design and Construction of the Great Tabernacle Arches

Design and Construction of the Great Tabernacle Arches
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Design and Construction of the Great Tabernacle Arches

Elwin C. Robison
W. Randall Dixon

Brigham Young desired to build a place where thousands of Saints could meet and a speaker could be heard. The Great Tabernacle in Salt Lake City was built using trussed arches. The genesis of this type of construction was the lattice truss, patented in 1820. The design was brought to Utah by Henry Grow. Brigham Young hired Grow to design and build a road bridge made of straight wooden lattice trusses over the Jordan River in 1860. Trusses could also be built as arches, and the Tabernacle was built as a long barrel vault with half-arch ends. This design allowed the wonderful acoustics of the interior. Robison also explains how nails, pegs, and bolts were used to build the structure of the Tabernacle. The construction of this magnificent building is a testament to ingenuity, skill, and sacrifice in pioneer Utah. This article is an excerpt of the book Gathering as One: The History of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City (BYU Press, 2013).