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Sunday, May 5, 2024

This is the Place IX: A Tabernacle and an Assembly Hall

Welcome readers. I'm nine posts deep into the topic of the Old World in Utah, yet I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. I've only covered just a few buildings in comparison to the myriad of structures supposedly built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Salt Lake City. 

For anyone seriously interested in this subject (and is questioning the official narrative), some other buildings to research in Salt Lake are the original Zion's Bank building, the Walker Center, the Continental Bank Building, the original Salt Palace, the original Salt Lake Theatre, the original ZCMI building, the Daft Block, the J.A. Fritz Block, and every building on the Exchange Place Historic District in the downtown area.

You'll find similar "construction" histories with these, and many other structures I haven't even named. The deeper you search, the more anomalies you'll find, and the more questions you'll have.

In this post we are going to cover the Assembly Hall and the Tabernacle on Temple Square. 

The Assembly Hall: A Gothic Gaslighting

The expression "gaslighted" was made popular by the 1940s British film Gaslight, a movie about a man who manipulates his wealthy wife into believing she is mentally ill to make sure she doesn't leave her money to anyone but him; stealing from her while trying to convince her that she is mentally insane.

In a relationship dynamic, gaslighting involves the gaslighter, the manipulating party pushing a false narrative in order to get some kind of personal gain, and the gaslighted, the victim of such a scheme. 

In my opinion, the government, complicit with all major religions, has been gaslighting us about the construction narratives of all the buildings I've been writing about (and thousands more). 

Covering up true history is a phenomenon that I do not believe is limited to our modern society. As the Bible emphatically states: there is nothing new under the sun: this has all been done before.

Ironically, the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, supposedly built between 1877 and 1882, was said to be illuminated with gas lighting. 

Are the storytellers trying to tell us something? 

Here is a photo of this gothic structure:

This building is categorized as Victorian Gothic, which falls within the spectrum of Gothic Revival, a phenomenon of the late 17th and early 18th centuries; but I believe these buildings are actually much older. 

The word gothic is an interesting one. It is usually associated with the Goths, or the "ancient Germanic people", but according to the author of the book The Chartres Cathedral: The Missing or Heretic Guide, the esoteric meaning of the word is as follows:
Gothic comes from goeteia (sorcery, or raise by magical action); its extension is goeteuein (to bewitch).

Indeed, when you look at some edifices built as far back as the 12th century, like the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, it seems as though the structure was constructed with some kind of sorcery (like anti-gravity technology). But the author of the book quoted above asserts that sorcery in this context is not all bad:

The true meaning of sorcery is "to connect with the source." The building was deliberately designed to meld the soul with the building - whose mathematics and geometry represent the cosmos or the body of God - elevating it and enabling an experience of the very source of creation.

In the context of Old World buildings, the term gothic holds both an exoteric and esoteric meaning: to the profane it refers to an architectural style randomly made up in England during the 17th century, to those "in the know", it refers to some kind of construction technology possessed by a past (and highly advanced) civilization, yet falsely attributed to our modern one.

The Assembly Hall was said to be constructed from the "refuse" (left overs) of granite blocks that couldn't be used on the Salt Lake Temple. Here is the official anecdote from a Church News article:

There is a common story that the stone used to build the Assembly Hall came from the refuse of the Salt Lake Temple. Utt said that "While that is technically true, what makes it so interesting is the pieces they're selecting." Cutting blocks out of boulders for the temple left perfectly usable, beautiful building stone. "They took these irregular shaped pieces that weren't of the right size or shape to be used on the temple and built the Assembly Hall out of them," she said. 

Expert stonemasons were called in to bring these irregular pieces of stone together into a building with clean lines and prominent mortal joints. (Article)

Cutting perfectly shaped granite blocks out of "irregular shaped" boulder fragments would have needed to be done with hand wedges during this time period. It was extremely tedious, time consuming, and labor intensive. We are not told who these "expert stonemasons" were, or how they were trained in this craft. 

We do know that holes had to be drilled in the granite before wedges could be driven in for splitting, and during the 1870s, drilling holes into hard granite stone was done with a flat bit mason's chisel. It looked something like this:

This tool was hammer-driven by hand, with each blow rotating the triangular shaped chisel just enough to slowly drill into the stone. As you can imagine, drilling any hole was slow and exhausting. After three or four holes were drilled, wedges and feathers were used to split the stone into a rough block, and then it was somehow shaped by hand with a chisel into a perfectly squared cube, precise enough to require little grouting after placement.

To give you an idea of the work involved in 19th century masonry, here is a video showing how wedges were used:

Of course this guy is cheating because he is using a modern powered masonry drill, but you get the gist of it.

The Assembly Hall, we are told, was needed to replace the  
"Old Tabernacle" built out of adobe (mud) bricks in 1852. Apparently it wasn't large enough to accommodate the needs of the saints, and after Brigham Young announced the construction of the new building, the old one was razed within a month. Here is an artist's rendition of it:

In a past post I wrote about the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, and as I was researching it I discovered a major error the storytellers made in reference to the "Old Tabernacle". They referred to it as the "Old Assembly Hall" when describing Brigham Young's offering of it to the Catholic Church to use for meetings while the Catholics were building the old St. Mary's church house during the 1860s. 

According to the narrative, construction on the Assembly Hall didn't begin until 1877, yet we find a Catholic priest by the name of Father Kelly referring to the Assembly Hall a decade before it was even built.

(To read the whole story, click here and skip to the section under the heading: Bonus: The Brigham Young Connection.)

Next we have the familiar part of the story we always hear about the architect dying within a year of the building's completion. The architect, Obed Taylor, apparently died in the middle of three building projects: the Assembly Hall, the Walker Opera House, and the University of Deseret. He died in 1881 at the age of 58, just one year before the Assembly Hall was completed, and the building had to be finished by Henry Grow.

There is no literature informing us about Taylor's upbringing, formal education, or training in architecture. We are just told that he was called by Church leadership to assist Truman O. Angell (architect of the Salt Lake Temple) as a "supervising architect. According to a Sunstone article written by Allen Roberts in 1973, this is all we know about Obed Taylor:
Nothing is known of Taylor's architectural background in Canada and San Francisco. He was a quiet, retiring man by nature and left no account of his early accomplishments, but was probably well experienced in the Victorian and cast iron modes which dominated late 19th century architecture in San Francisco. (Utah's Unknown Pioneer Architects: Their Lives and Works, p. 71)

Earlier in the same article, Roberts points out an interesting phenomenon that should rouse our suspicions about 19th century architects in general. Apparently, the majority of them shot from the hip:

There were few professionally trained architects in 19th-century America. A select few aristocrats received school training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, but most architects were semi-skilled draftsmen - usually carpenters, masons, or contractors - who also possessed artistic sensitivity and drawing skills. Texts for these self-made designers were limited to a few carpenter's and builder's guides and house pattern books. From these the builder/architect would select his favorite Greek or Gothic Revival cornice details, window and door types, moulding and stair patterns, etc...

Most plans for major buildings were well drawn, considering the primitive drafting implements available, but usually included little more than exterior elevations, floor plans, and a structural transverse section. (Ibid, p. 68)

Are we suppose to believe that nearly all architects in 19th-century America had zero schooling or training, yet designed the most geometrically complex, aesthetically pleasing, and structurally sound buildings (from primitive drawings) that modern architects do not even attempt to duplicate today? The official storytellers want us to believe that 19th century capitol buildings, court houses, chapels, churches, cathedrals, basilicas, asylums, theaters, and temples - masterfully crafted out of hand-carved stone - were designed by amateur architects, making up the plans as they went, and supervising unskilled construction workers? 

Are you beginning to question the official historical narratives yet?

At one time the Assembly Hall was littered with murals all over the ceiling. The man who painted them was W.C. Morris. In an old book published in 1873, his work is described in full detail:

For its artistic design and the many interesting historical reminiscences depicted upon it, the ceiling [of the Assembly Hall] is worthy of special mention. It is divided into sixteen panels, of different shape and design, by an elegant moulding and border. Each panel is occupied by a beautiful fresco ornament, or painting representing historical scenes in the early rise of the Church, and paintings of the different temples built and now building by the Latter-Day Saints.

Representations of the Savior, Moses, Elijah, and Elias are also given. The two largest and principal panels are over the east and west ends of the Hall. That over the west end contains a fresco delineation of the All-Seeing Eye, and the emblematic Hive of Deseret, with the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples in the two lower corners. The panel over the east end contains a historical fresco painting of the angel "Moroni showing the Prophet Joseph where the plates were hid in the Hill Cumorah." The artistic fresco work of the ceiling was done by W.C. Morris, Esq. (The Mormon Metropolis: An Illustrated Guide to Salt Lake City and its Environs, Jos. Hyrum Parry, 1873, p. 18) 

These murals no longer exist today, as water damage from a leaking roof destroyed them. But there are some existing photos. Notice the All-Seeing Eye directly above the organ which is similar to Masonic depictions:


The book I quoted from above was written as a tourist guide for sight-seers traveling to Salt Lake City, and part of the very long subtitle includes the following sentence: containing illustrations and depictions of principal places of interest to tourists. Salt Lake City must've been somewhat of a tourist attraction during those years, and this makes a lot of sense if you consider the architectural wonders that existed there. 

This book includes an interesting drawing of the completed Salt Lake Temple a decade before we are told that it was finished, view it here.

The author of the book, Jos. Hyrum Parry, also asserts that the Assembly Hall was finished in 1880, two years earlier than Wikipedia or the Church News article states.

A google search of the name W.C. Morris (the man who painted the murals on the ceiling of the Assembly Hall) in Salt Lake City leads to this Wikipedia page. His full name was William Charles Morris, a writer and cartoonist born in Salt Lake City in 1874. He began his career at the Salt Lake Herald and then moved on to making political cartoons at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington. There is no mention of him painting murals in the Assembly Hall. Of course, he would've been only six years old at the time, which is ridiculous.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that W.C. Morris was given the name of his father, W.C. Morris I, born in England in 1844 and emigrated to Salt Lake City sometime before 1868. He died at the age of 45 in 1889. The only place you can find that this man existed at all is on the Family Search website of the LDS Church. The website offers no actual documentation that Morris painted the murals in the Assembly Hall; the only document the Church provides is an old advertisement for a house painting company. It reads as follows:

V.M. Morris & Son, Painters... Plain House Painting, Signs. Carriages, and House Decorating in General. Graining, Marbling, and Gilding. (See it here)

Family Search includes a photo of the old Assembly Hall murals and a painting of lions from 1888 with Morris' signature on it, but that's all. The only other "proof" I found was an article in the Deseret News, published on April 7th of 1880, naming a Wm. C. Morris as the painter of the murals in the Assembly Hall.

This man could've been very real and the actual painter of the murals in the Assembly Hall, but I just find the whole story very strange. We are told that by 1904 the murals were completely destroyed by a leaking roof and had to be painted over, but the rostrum didn't have to be replaced until the 1960s. If the roof actually leaked, wouldn't the water eventually make its way down to the rostrum and bench seating below?

I wonder if the Church was trying to cover something up (which would have been revealed) by painting over the murals? And why was the All-Seeing Eye exhibited as a central piece painting positioned directly above the pipe organ? What did it mean to the LDS leaders who employed Morris to paint it? I won't get in to the various interpretations of the eye (both good and evil), but I get the feeling, as usual with these historical narratives, that there is much more to this story than we are being told. 

It is possible that Morris painted the murals in an already existing Assembly Hall, or it is also possible that the Church just fabricated this historical character out of thin air, declared that he painted the murals, and then deliberately destroyed them later because they contained symbolic evidence of the Old World.

Interestingly, when we look into other Old World buildings in other parts of the world we find the same patterns and similar stories. For instance, Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Russia, the fourth church on the same site, took forty years to construct between 1818 and 1858. We are told that "the interior was originally decorated with scores of paintings" by Russian artists but quickly deteriorated "due to the cold, damp conditions inside the cathedral." As a consequence, the paintings "were painstakingly reproduced as mosaics." Here is what the interior looks like today:

This phenomenon of painting over old murals is a pattern we find in the narratives of many of these old buildings. Patterns should not be ignored. In the video below, My Lunch Break goes into more detail about this Russian cathedral:

Lastly, the original pipe organ said to be installed in the Assembly Hall also has a strange history. We are told in a Deseret News article written in November of 1878 that:

A few parts that were in the Old Tabernacle are being used in its construction, but as it is being enlarged, with additional pipes, bellows, stops, etc., it can really be called a new organ.

Are we really to believe that a new organ was built out of old one? 

The Old Tabernacle, they tell us, was built between 1849 and 1852, and we are told that the original pipe organ was shipped to Utah from Australia. Remember, there were no railroads coming into Utah at this time, so this pipe organ traveled across the ocean and then made its way from the coast to Utah on horse and wagon.

Yet with no account of how it was actually accomplished, these crafty Utah pioneers built the Assembly Hall's organ out of a smaller one shipped from Australia. Here it is below on the left, compared to the newer model installed after 1961 on the right:

Where did the material for the "additional pipes, bellows, and stops" come from? We are simply not told.

In my opinion, the Assembly Hall was not built out of "refuse" and leftovers from the Salt Lake temple, nor was its organ constructed from the parts of a smaller one. 

I believe the Assembly Hall and its fully intact pipe organ were already here, found by Brigham Young and the first pioneer immigrants upon arriving in a very old Salt Lake City. 

Furthermore, we are told that the first "building" the Mormon pioneers built after they arrived in 1847 was something called the "Bowery", a hut-type structure looking like it was built by primitives on a tropical island. Here is a supposed photo of it next to the old tabernacle:

Are we really supposed to believe that in a matter of a few years they went from building wooden shacks and huts, then to building massive brick buildings, and then a few short decades later they were able to build elaborate granite structures like the Assembly Hall - all with primitive hand tools and horse and buggy technology? 

I'm not buying it.

The "New" Tabernacle

As the story goes, the Salt Lake Tabernacle was constructed between 1864 and 1867, and at the time of its completion it was the largest 19th century assembly hall in the nation. Keep in mind that this was a full ten years before the granite Assembly Hall was built, which begs the question: if the "new" Tabernacle was so large (able to accommodate 10,000 people) than why would they have needed to build the Assembly Hall at all?

The total population of Salt Lake City was only around 12,000 by 1870, with a portion of that being Catholic immigrants, which brings up another important question: why would a building of this complexity, cost, and magnitude be needed for meetings and how was such a small population able to sustain a building project like this?  

Here is an image of the Tabernacle from 1870, next to "extra" precision cut granite blocks supposedly cut for the temple.

Question: with all the intense time and labor of quarrying, transporting, cutting, lifting, moving and shaping each multi-ton granite block, why were there so many leftovers? 

We are told that it was Brigham Young's idea (which he got from staring at an egg over breakfast one day) to construct the elongated tabernacle roof with no interior support pillars which would obstruct the view of audiences, so he commissioned Henry Grow to build a lattice truss arched roof. We don't see any other lattice trussed dome buildings like this anywhere else in the U.S. at that time. This is supposedly a historical first. 

Grow is named as a "civil engineer" yet had no formal training in engineering. He began as a simple carpenter and by some unknown means became a bridge builder. Supposedly, he used the lattice truss system (which he learned from working for the Remington Company in Philadelphia) on the Remington Bridge he built over the Jordan River.

The story we are told about the Tabernacle’s lattice truss arched roof is that it consisted of wooden trusses bound together by wooden pegs and strips of rawhide. According to some accounts, there were no nails used in the construction of the roof because of iron scarcity. The railroads would not have been built until 1869, so importation from the East was limited, and according to an article published by the Church, nails were painstakingly made by forging them "from leftover military equipment or the worn shoes of oxen."

If nails were so hard to come by, then how did they build all these amazing...shacks and sheds?:

The lattice truss arch roof on the tabernacle was 9 feet thick, and designed according to the drawings below:






The domed roof measures 250 feet long by 150 feet wide, and rests upon 44 sandstone support pillars. According to Leonard Arrington, the Tabernacle required more than a million and a half board feet of lumber, broken down as follows by Henry Grow:

Above the piers there is over one million feet of lumber; in the floor 80,000 feet; in the joists, 100,000 in the sleepers 30,000; in the doors, stands, benches and other parts not enumerated, 290,000 feet. (A Tabernacle in the Desert, Stewart L. Grow, p. 58)

We are told that nearly all the materials for the Tabernacle were manufactured locally due to the lack of railroads coming into Utah. According to the Church article I quoted above, "lumber was harvested from steep local canyons or reused from previous constructed bowers."

If this is true, then what logging company harvested the lumber from these "steep local canyons"? We are simply not told. What sawmills were involved in cutting, shaping, and trimming the lumber to the lengths and widths required for the lattice truss roof (keep in mind that these boards had to be curved; that is hard to do without modern equipment)? And finally, what carpentry shop took the rough-cut timber and tediously built and shaped it into doors, stands, benches, and interior trim, and then sanded, stained, varnished, and installed the finished products? 

We are not given a single name of a logging company, a sawmill, or a carpentry shop that was involved in the construction of the Tabernacle. This is strange considering that the massive Tabernacle is touted as one of the most prestigious construction projects in early Utah, supposedly accomplished by a people who came to Salt Lake Valley a mere twenty years earlier with nothing but handcarts, a few hand tools, and the clothes on their backs.

Stewart Grow, quoting the Salt Lake Telegraph from October of 1867, offers the following names of men who supplied the lumber: Joseph A. Young, President Wells, Feramorz Little, and Samuel A. Wooley (see Grow, A Tabernacle in the Desert, p. 59).

According to Henry Grow, three-fourths of the lumber was supplied by Joseph A. Young, the eldest son of Brigham Young. Joseph A. was heavily involved in the railroads with his father, and before dying mysteriously at the young age of forty in 1875, he was said to have been involved in the sawmill business. Yet, we are not told which sawmills he operated, where they were located, or how they were involved with the construction of the Tabernacle. 

According to Henry Grow's grandson, Stewart L. Grow (who wrote a Master's Thesis on the Tabernacle in 1948; more on that later), the timber for the roof came from Big Cottonwood Canyon, but he makes no mention of Joseph A. Young's sawmill enterprise or where it was located. If Young really supplied over 1 million linear feet of lumber for the Tabernacle wouldn't there be some kind of documentation for this? Wouldn't there be some primary source documents containing the name, location, and the output of the sawmill, as well as a description of the equipment Young used? Wouldn't there be financial documents naming the logging companies Young contracted with? There is no information to be found, anywhere. 

If an organization is going to claim that one man furnished over 1 million feet of lumber in a two year period (in the 1860s) for one of the most famous buildings in Utah, then shouldn't there be some kind of documented historical evidence backing up the claim?    

According to Arrington, the lattice truss roof was finished in only two years, with 150-200 men working on it daily. To keep up with the demand, sawmills would've had to produce and deliver over 2,000 linear feet of milled lumber to the job site every single day (excluding weekends). A typical horse-drawn lumber wagon could haul around that much lumber, but could sawmills keep up with the demand? If sawmills were shut down in the winter and rainy months then the amount of daily lumber delivered to the jobsite would have to increase to 4,000 plus feet to make all the numbers add up. It doesn't.

We are not told whether these sawmills were steam-powered or water-driven, or whether the early Utah pioneers used up-and-down or circular saws. Water-driven circular saws began to revolutionize the lumber industry towards the mid 18th century, but before that most sawmills used up-and-down saws. They looked something like this:

Initially they were operated manually by laborers, but toward the mid 1800s water wheels and steam began to used to drive circular saws. Leonard Arrington seems to concur in Great Basin Kingdom that steam sawmills were fully operational in Utah by the 1870s, but that does not mean they were available and functioning when the Tabernacle was built. 

During the 1850s and 1860s the Latter-Day Saints were extremely isolated and limited in what they could build. All goods coming into Utah were delivered on wagons, and its seems unlikely that a people living in shacks and barely able to feed themselves could divert the massive resources required to build the Tabernacle at the risk of their own survival. 

Even if any of the sawmills could keep up with the demand of spitting out 2,000-4,000 feet of lumber per day, was it even possible for loggers to fell and transport enough timber to do the same? Remember, the 2,000 feet per day (assuming work continued in winter) was just the demand of the Tabernacle roof, but not for the interior woodwork, for other construction projects, or for house building going on simultaneously around the valley. 

During this time period loggers used manual gang and whip saws that required arduous physical labor. Once a big enough tree was felled, it had to be harnessed to a horse and dragged through the standing trees around it, down the canyon on rough, rocky dirt roads (cut into the mountain for that purpose) where each tree would then need to be loaded onto a wagon with some kind of ropes and pulleys. Just the dragging and loading process alone would have required many men, strong horses, and  and untold hours of back-breaking labor for each and every log.  

Once loaded onto a wagon, the teamster would make the trip to the sawmill. If the trees came from Big Cottonwood Canyon this was a 20 mile trip to Salt Lake City, which would've taken 1-2 days depending on conditions.  

Let's say that by some miracle the required 1.5 million feet of roughly-milled lumber was delivered to Salt Lake City within the given time frame. Even if this was the case, the rough planks would've needed to planed and trimmed to their precise size. Judging from the "construction" photo below, the lattice truss roof (and the scaffolding used to build it) would have required several different sizes of manufactured boards and beams:

Coincidentally, I know a little something about cutting and shaping lumber as a consequence of working at my father's cabinet shop for over a decade of my life. At one point during my employment I ran our commercial molder, a massive machine with multiple sets of steel shaping blades rotating simultaneously to spit out perfectly shaped lengths of trim for walls, floors, or crown molding - a 20 ft. length in about 30 seconds.  

Before the wood could be fed through the molder it had to be cut to the correct width on the commercial upcut, or straight line rip saw. New bunks of lumber consisted of rough cut planks planed down to a certain thickness, but there were no straight edges. The upcut saw came with a laser used to trim one straight edge on each board before it could be cut to the desired width. It only took about 5 seconds for that steel beast to rip a 16-foot board, and consequently, I (with one helper to catch boards and scrap) could cut and shape around 2,000 linear feet of molding in a single day. (Ironically, all the molding we produced was part a contract with the LDS Church for new chapels.)

The machines did all the work for me, all I had to do was set up the upcut saw and adjust and sharpen the shaping knifes on the molder. But unlike me, the Utah pioneers who "built" the Tabernacle did not have automated machines with blades powered by electricity to do the work for them. Was it really possible for them to accomplish such a feat in only two years? I don't think so. 

According to the narrative, the roof was finished by 1867, the timeline for the completion of the custom interior seats, benches, stands, trim, paneling, and rostrums is sketchy. The first general conference was held, we are told, in October of 1867, and although we are told that some of the seating was temporary, much of it was claimed to be completed:

As we understand it, the ladies will occupy the two rows of seats in the center fronting the platform. The gentlemen will occupy the side seats and the back seats in the east end of the building. The side seats of the platform will be occupied by the Priesthood - The Bishops, High Priests, Seventies, etc. As the seats do not admit of persons passing those who are seated, the first entering will have their places in the center and so on till the seats are filled. (The Salt Lake Telegraph, October 6, 1867)

If it is true that the interior was also completed by 1867, then that means that sawmills and wood milling shops would've had to spit out close to 3,000 (6,000 assuming work halted during winter) linear feet of precision cut finished lumber per day to keep up with the demand, and around 500,000 feet of this lumber would've been needed for the lavish woodwork in the interior. 

The image below is of the finished interior, and according to this website, this photo of the interior "under construction" was taken in 1865:

Wait a minute... 1865? What is going on here? 

How was it possible for the interior to be "under construction" in 1865 when Edward Martin's famous photograph (shown below) taken a year later in 1866 shows scaffolding where interior benches should be? We are told by the narrators that the roof wasn't finished until 1867, yet somehow these Utahns were able to finish the interior two years earlier?

Are we in the twilight zone? (There is so much confusion as to the completion dates of these old buildings that any serious researcher will find many anomalies among different websites that publish photographs). 

Here is Martin's photo:

Just stop and think about this logically for just a moment: even if the interior wasn't finished until October of 1867, that would've left only a few months to plaster the roof and walls, install the sky lighting (according to Grow 3,500 "lights of glass" were installed to light the building), and to install all of that elaborate woodwork that we see in the photo above.  

It would have been completely impossible to finish construction on the roof and the interior simultaneously. Just the plastering of the roof alone would have probably taken months and would've been a prerequisite to any interior finish work (this was required to waterproof the interior). Yet, according to Grow, quoting T.B.H. Stenhouse, editor of the The Salt Lake Telegraph, the plastering took just over two weeks. This "plaster" was made of some interesting ingredients, namely: lime, sand, lamp-black (a coal tar derivative), tallow (beef fat) and salt. The mixture was 40 gallons of lime-liquid to 5 pounds of salt and tallow. How were all these raw materials gathered, transported, mixed, and applied in only a matter of weeks?

Lime is extracted from limestone through baking it in a kiln in a process called calcination, which involves heating it up just enough to remove impurities without melting the stone. We are told that there still exists to this day an old lime kiln in the mountains to the east of Salt Lake City as shown below:

In the video below, Jon Levi delves deep into the history of this lime kiln and comes to the conclusion that it is much older than we are being told and probably wasn't even a lime kiln at all. 

Also to consider: why would early Utahns build this thing so far from town, having to haul limestone up and down this steep mountain with horses and wagons, making so much more work for themselves?
 This, of course, makes no sense at all. There are so many inconsistencies in all the construction stories.

According to Grow, the roof also required 60,000 laths (roof sheeting) of wood and 350,000 shingles. We are told that the lumber for these laths and shingles were harvested from Big Cottonwood Canyon, but again we are not told which sawmill manufactured them. How did they produce so much material in such a short amount of time? According to the narrative, the roofing was completed between May and July of 1867. And remember, all these roofing materials had to be hauled to the jobsite on horse-drawn wagons. 

And what of the custom woodwork? What carpentry shop or shops were employed in building the seats, benches, stands, the massive rostrum, the pipe organ case, and the wall and floor trim? There is no mention of this anywhere in the narrative. The only reference to "carpenters" comes from a general conference address by Brigham Young in April of 1867:
You men owing saw mills, bring on the lumber to finish the tabernacle, and you carpenters and joiners come and help to use it up. We are going to plaster the main body of this building here immediately; take down the scaffold at the west end from the body of the building while the east end is being put up. And we are going to lay a platform for the organ, and then make plans for the seats. (Reported by Deseret News, May 15, 1867). 
It is almost as if the storytellers want us to believe that when King Brigham barked a command in general conference, the worker bees literally came out of the woodwork (no pun intended) and gleefully got right to work on obeying his orders. As if there were a slew of gifted craftsman in the congregation just waiting for their skills to come out of dormancy. Honestly, the deeper we dive into these construction stories, the more ridiculous they become. 

Coincidentally, I also have experience in custom wood work. Back at my dad's cabinet shop I worked in the custom shop making raise panel doors out of hardwood. This is a very tedious process, even in our modern day. After boards are ripped and planed down to size, they have to be glued together on a clamp machine. After the glue dries they have to be sanded down to the precise thickness, usually 3/4 of an inch. After they are sanded and cut on a table saw to the exact dimensions, they have to be run through a shaper and then glued again inside a frame called the rail and stile. The finished door looks like this:

After the glue dries the door is sanded tediously and then stained and varnished. This process usually involves several coats of varnish with light sanding in between each coat. At my dad's shop all the tools we used were powered by electricity or pneumatic air. I cannot imagine repeating this process without power tools.  

 Yet, the implements used for shaping and cutting boards in the 1860s were all hand tools: hand saws, hand planers, hand sanders etc. The process for making wood benches is similar to making cabinet doors, except that benches require thicker lumber and many more glue joints. This begs the question: where did Utahns obtain wood glue and did they have steel clamps large enough to secure the benches while they were drying? Were these clamps forged in local blacksmith shops or were they shipped to Utah on horse-drawn wagons? And what of the gallons upon gallons of wood stain and varnish? Were these products manufactured in Utah or shipped from the East (keep in mind that the nearest settlement to Salt Lake City was 800 miles away)? These are yet more logistics we are not given any information about. 

If you scroll back up to the photo above showing the scaffolding you can see a few of the 44 sandstone foundation piers, three feet thick and nine feet deep. According to a book excerpt published in BYU Studies Quarterly, the task of digging footings for the stone piers was performed by unknown laborers:

It is not known how big a crew was used in digging the foundations for the new piers... Digging the forty-four holes in the ground by hand would have taken significant effort because of the relatively dense gravel on which the Tabernacle was built. (Gathering As One: The History of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Elwin Clark Robison)

Question: where would the pioneer workers have obtained gravel to lay into the hole before even laying the foundation stones? 

According to the same author, in the 2006 seismic upgrade performed on the building, engineers found that "the tremendous horizonal thrust from the arch had pushed the stone pier and rotated it outward", which "ironically, rather than being detrimental, this deflection of the wood arch trusses and stone piers resulted in a stable structural system."

A footnote reveals that the only thing that kept the sandstone piers from being pushed over by the weight of the dome was their depth. What I want to know is how did Henry Grow (designer of the roof) and William H. Folsom (designer of the sandstone piers) anticipate that the shifting of the dome would rotate the piers and make them stronger over time? 

Indeed, how was this even possible when there are no known drawings of the building in existence?:

For example, how the idea for the shape of the Tabernacle originated and whether plans were ever drawn for the building remain a mystery. Concerning the origin of the shape, one writer observes," No architectural drawings are in existence today, so just what detailed plans were drawn is not known, nor is it known how the unique shape of the building was decided upon." (The Tabernacle: "An Old and Wonderful Friend", Scott C. Esplin)

Robison (author of the book Gathering As One quoted above) also provides some details about the pine planks used to construct the arches:

The planks are about twelve inches deep and vary from two and a half to almost three inches thick. Most early sawmills could not produce dimensional lumber with greater accuracy than that. (Ibid, p. 152)

Again, we are not told which sawmills produced this nondimensional lumber. Or how did this "nondimensional" lumber produced a perfectly symmetrical roof that is still structurally sound to this day.

Robison also has something to say about the "no nail myth," claiming that there were actually "tens of thousands of nails" used in the construction of tabernacle. And not only nails, but thousands of massive bolts as well, which would have needed some kind of threading machinery for screws, nuts, and bolts. Robison claims these bolts were used to secure the joints of the lattice trusses and were anywhere from 6" to 12" long and 3/4" thick. In the photo below, we can see a single bolt head on the left and wooden pegs to the right of it:

According to Robison, there were two nail-making machines in Salt Lake City at the time of the Tabernacle's construction, one of which was in operation in Brigham Young's Blacksmith shop. I have no reason to doubt that nails were being produced in Salt Lake City during this time, as most of the buildings they were building were primitive wooden shacks. What is harder to believe is that a massive amount of resources were diverted from building simple homes to this elaborate Tabernacle, especially when we consider other building projects (like the Salt Lake Temple) that were gobbling up resources simultaneously.

One of these forgotten buildings was the Salt Lake Theatre, which, we are told, was built in just one year, between 1861 to 1862 (supposedly supervised by Joseph A. Young). The only details we are given about its construction is that it was "built entirely of timber, stone, and adobe." As usual, no contractors, logging companies, sawmills, or stone masons were named. Just good o'l Brigham Young, his son Joseph, and his trusty architects William H. Folsom and E.L.T. Harrison. Are we really to believe that a mere fourteen years after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley a destitute and isolated people in a barren wasteland were able to produce this glorious structure in only one year?:

The population of Salt Lake City was only 8,000 at the time of its construction, which begs the question: why would such a small population need this theatre and how in the world did they construct it while trying to establish farms and build simple log cabin homes? Just take a moment to look at the columns and the elaborate detail and ask yourself how this narrative makes any sense at all.

As the story goes, Heber J. Grant sold it in the 1920s and it was demolished shortly thereafter, and this razing took "several more months of demolition" than was originally planned. Our current society has a hard enough time knocking these structures down, let alone building them.

The source of the iron used for the nails and bolts on the Tabernacle is another questionable story. Apparently, there was no iron in Utah. Brigham Young tried to remedy this problem by sending "iron missionaries" to establish a colony in Iron County to mine and smelt ore. But as the story goes, they weren't able to produce enough iron to keep with up with the voluminous demand of the Tabernacle.

According to Robison, the major source of the iron came from military wagons that had been burned during the Mormon War of 1857-58. Apparently, a man leading a group of former Nauvoo Legion rangers, Lot Smith, burned scores of U.S. Army wagons in Wyoming in an attempt to stop their march into Utah. Robison reports that:

The heavy military wagons that accompanied the army had thick iron hoops around the circumference of the wooden wheels and heavy chains and bolts used with brake levers, axles, and wagon trees. (Ibid, p. 155)

Are we really to believe that the U.S. Army was outmaneuvered by Lot Smith and his ragged rangers? The official story on Wikipedia is that Smith and his men stealthily burned three wagon trains full of food, clothing, gunpowder, and whiskey, forcing the soldiers to winter in the ruins of Fort Bridger, Wyoming. So we are expected to believe that a small contingent of men took on 1400 U.S. Army regulars and succeeded in burning all of their supplies, delaying their march for an entire winter? 

And then we are told that a decade later the iron from the abandoned and rusted-out wagons was used to make nails and bolts for the Tabernacle. Honestly, how ridiculous do these narratives have to get before we begin to question our history?

Lacking in Primary Sources

What I have found in this research is reminiscent of the polygamy narrative espoused by the LDS Church: primary sources are either not contemporary or nonexistent, appearing decades later and written by women who were most likely under duress, or, as in the case of William Clayton, the testimony of one man (of questionable character) becomes the hinge upon which the entire narrative is held up. The building narratives are similar, written in almost mythological form, enshrouding 19th century workmen in an almost supernatural aura, accomplishing the construction of epic structures in impossible time frames and with primitive tools and limited means. 

With the Tabernacle, primary sources include journal entries and newspaper articles, but I believe that these have been edited, doctored, scrubbed, and varnished by the LDS Church, the organization that is emphatically in charge of these narratives. They are, after all, the ultimate owners of the buildings, and they have the journals of men like Brigham Young, Joseph A. Young, Henry Grow, William H, Folsom and Truman Angell in their repository, as well as countless other journals that past Church leaders have required to be turned in by the common members. I don't believe we can trust anything that is officially published by the organization, especially when it comes to history.

But sometimes the truth is accidentally (or perhaps deliberately) slipped into commentary that is written about these narratives. One example of such an admission is found in a book (that I've quoted earlier in this post) Edited by Scott C. Esplin and published in 2007 entitled, The Tabernacle: "An Old and Wonderful Friend".

Esplin's book is a really a review of Stewart L. Grow's early Master's Thesis written on the Tabernacle, published by BYU in 1948 and entitled, A Historical Study of the Construction of the Salt Lake TabernacleAlthough Grow's thesis is out of print, Esplin includes snippets of Grow's original work, with commentaries and other insertions, the most interesting (relative to the topic of the Old World) is as follows:

Grow describes how he hoped to "interview all of the persons who would chance to know anything authoritative about the construction of the Tabernacle." Though Grow acknowledged that information drawn from the memories of participants "is not completely authentic and cannot be proved," he argued that the lack of better sources justified its inclusion...

In addition, Grow had access to officials in the highest levels of Church leadership...

In fact, one of the challenges he faced was finding primary sources. Describing the process as "a great deal of 'leafing through' old papers and documents," Grow lamented that little was indexed from the documents and newspapers of the time. (Emphasis added)

Here is a man who was a literal grandson of Henry Grow, the touted builder of the great Tabernacle, who is given access to the highest officials in the Church, and laments that he has hard time finding primary sources to prove the his thesis? Did he even have access to his grandfather's journal? 

Do you see the problem here? 

The Salt Lake Tabernacle, a building that is celebrated by the Latter-Day Saints as being the largest assembly hall in the world at the time it was "built", containing the largest pipe organ in the world, and becoming one of the most famous buildings in Utah, is lacking in primary sources proving it was built by the Latter-Day Saints at all.

Need I say more? Yes, there actually is more. 

Stewart Grow provides two sources for the completion of the interior: The Salt Lake Telegraph and Truman O. Angell's journal. These sources are catalogued in two different books: Grow's original Master's Thesis and his later book published in 1958, entitled, A Tabernacle in the Desert

The Salt Lake Telegraph offers a description of exactly what interior portions of the Tabernacle were completed for general conference held on October 6th of 1867. This interior work was said to be accomplished in only a few months (while scaffolding for the unfinished roof was being moved around), a feat that I don't believe would've been humanly possible.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in the photo below (which I have already shared) Mr. Stenhouse from The Salt Lake Telegraph (the only "primary source" for this account, a source that could've easily been written by AI decades later), describes in great detail that everything was finished by October 6 of 1867 except the benches you see in the raised up area surrounding the main floor. 

Here is Mr. Stenhouse's description

The stand for the speakers is at the west end of the building and covers 7,500 feet of surface. The front of the stand is a segment of a circle. Before it are a seat and desk for the bishops and others who administer the sacrament. The first seat in the centre of the stand or platform is for the Presidency of the Stake, the next for the Quorum of the Twelve, the third for the First Presidency. Back of these are seats for a choir of 150 singers, with the great organ, yet unfinished, behind them. On the right and left are seats for from 800 to 1,000 persons. 

The speaker's desk is 60 feet in front of the western piers. In front of the stand, for 70 feet, the floor is horizontal, thence to the east end of the floor rises with a grade of one foot in ten. The horizontal portion of the floor is seated with very comfortable permanent benches. The remainder temporarily with the old benches from the Bowery.

During the past six months and for some time before that, Elder Truman O. Angell has been engaged in designing the cornice of the building, the stand, floor, seats, etc. (Grow, A Tabernacle in the Desert, p. 58)

We are told that Mr. Angell began drafting plans for the interior in April of 1867, only six months before it was completed. That is unheard of in modern times. Architectural drawings usually precede construction by at least a year on a project this size, and actual work is slow and tedious. As you read through Mr. Angell's journals as laid out in Grow's thesis, you find that he was giving directions to Henry Grow and the workmen as he was simultaneously drafting plans. This hasty method of construction simply does not happen and if it did it could not produce such a masterpiece as the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

As you read through Angell's journal, he is directing the work (in addition to drawing plans) throughout the entire interior project. This pattern of architects being in charge of construction is seen quite frequently in building narratives of the 1800s. In my opinion, this is done to glorify and almost deify these men who could accomplish so much with so little technology. It is almost a modern form of mythology. 

Also interesting is the fact that Angell's son Franklin became ill and suddenly died only one week before the Tabernacle was finished for conference. This follows another pattern that we see in these narratives of mysterious deaths that take place just before a structure is finished. Truman Angell was the main architect of the Salt Lake Temple, and he died on October 16th of 1887, just six years before the temple was finished (I'll be doing a further exploration of Angell in future posts).  

You'll notice in these narratives that only the important players are mentioned at all. The subcontractors, common workmen, volunteers, and other ordinary folks are completely left out of these stories except as collective labor that seemed to be at the disposal of the elite. In my opinion, this is because population numbers during this time period were much lower than we are being told (or else why were incubator babies and repopulating orphan trains needed until 1925?). 

In my opinion these stories are all a ruse, designed to make you think that almost all men in these time periods were skilled masons and carpenters, able to build anything, even without a set of plans. But the reality is that populations were nascently establishing themselves after a recent reset, which is why the photos you see of 19th century cities and buildings are devoid of people.

I also know a little something about finish carpentry work. The contract between my dad's cabinet shop and the LDS Church included installation of the cabinets, the wood trim, the rostrum, podium, stands, bishop's desk, and sometimes the wood benches. The trim included floor, wall, and ceiling pieces, with the latter requiring the use of scaffolding (or sometimes an indoor lift) to reach the highest places. With a crew of five guys or so, using modern power tools (hammer drills, impact drivers, pneumatic air guns, portable table saws, miter saws, skill saws, jigsaws, etc.), from start to finish the installation of a typical LDS chapel can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks (and even longer for a Stake Center).

In 1867 they had none of the modern tools we take for granted today, but accomplished this massive undertaking in just a few months, and the Tabernacle is much larger than the biggest Stake Center. To cut a piece of trim they had to use a hand saw (for any of you carpenters out there can you imagine mitering a perfect joint with a hand saw?). To build the rostrum and stands they had to use hand planers, sanders, and routers, primitive nails, and home-made wood glue. They had to build the massive stands and rostrums off-site in a wood shop and then deliver them on horse-drawn wagons (we used huge trailers and 1-ton diesel trucks to deliver cabinets at my dad's shop). 

This could not have been accomplished in just a few months. It would have taken years, and that's if they even had the means to do this kind of custom work in an isolated wilderness during the 1860s.

Unlike accounts of buildings in other parts of America, Grow actually includes details about work on the Tabernacle slowing down in the winter months. However, after each snippet about snow, rain, and roads too muddy for wagons, he insists that despite the hardships thrust upon the pioneers by the inclement weather, they were still able to complete the work within the given time frame. Of course he never explains how this was accomplished, but only that it was accomplished. 

During September of 1866 Utah experienced a torrent of rain fail, so much so that wagons roads became impassable. Brigham Young recounts the following:

The rains that we have had, damaged the roads in the kanyons [sic] so very much, that the labor of getting out lumber has been much retarded.

And Samuel Richards reported that:

We are this fall having an unusual amount of rain, the earth is full, and the roads generally almost impassable. No one travels that can avoid it, not even to bring in coal from Weber, which many need to do. The road has never been so bad since the settlement of the Territory. Teams double to come down the summit through the mud, and new the toll road through Parley's Park, they say, has no bottom. (Quoted in Esplin, pp. 157-58)

Despite this weather, Grow declares that "the Tabernacle was progressing favorably during the fall of 1866"...

Really? Wagons can't go anywhere (even to haul coal for heat), but work on the Tabernacle continues apace?

Again, we have the narrators painting a picture of work being performed in impossible conditions by mythological workmen. It reminds me of the following scripture describing the hubris of the latter-day Gentiles:

At that day when the gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be full of all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations... (3 Nephi 7:5, RE)

Is it not prideful to lie about history and make up stories about ancestors being so great as to accomplish the impossible, especially after our own scriptures tell us that God rejected them as a church more than twenty years before? It is not interesting that the Gentiles are prophesied to engage in lyings and deceits, and is this not being done in the telling of their own history? Is it not hypocritical to claim to have built buildings that were clearly built by others who had more advancements in technology?

In closing, I'm going to include a few sentences that Stewart Grow used in his books that lend less credence to the official narrative. After reading the lines that follow, I'll let you decide what to to believe about the construction narrative of the Salt Lake Tabernacle:

The author found no record indicating the amount of work done on the Tabernacle in 1863...

Although work started out energetically in 1863, the records indicate that for some reason little was done except the laying of the foundation and the starting of some of the piers...

There is no original record available which would indicate the exact date the cornerstone was laid... 

There is no evidence that the Tabernacle was worked on during the summer of 1865...
There is no information to indicate what progress was made on the roof during the fall and winter of 1865. It is probable that work was done to prepare the arches...

It appears, therefore, that the plans originally announced by Church architect Folsom were modified. Whether Henry Grow, who is credited with being the architect of the building, formulated the original plans announced by Folsom and then changed them, or whether Folsom or someone else created the first plans, which were changed in favor of Grow's, is not known...

It is a most interesting observation that plans for the building were either non-existent or so incomplete that decisions such as the location of the organ and choir seats were made after the general exterior of the building were well under way...

In spite of the weather and the shortage of materials, progress was made...

The call issued by President Young for workmen to help finish the Tabernacle should have been well received... 

The preparation of the Tabernacle for the 1867 Conference represents a worthy feat of construction and co-operation. Consistent work on this building started September 1, 1865. Within the space of only two years, it was sufficiently finished for Conference to convene on October 6, 1867...

The narrative reads like a fairy tale, as if every obstacle was overcome with ease to make way for this massive building to be erected. And why? So that the Latter-Day Saints could have a place to worship the Lord? Did not Nephi declare that such fine sanctuaries used for worship were offensive to God because they robbed the poor? Did not Alma declare that a synagogue was not necessary to worship the Lord? Yet, the narrators lie about building these buildings and then contradict the Book of Mormon in their reasons for doing so.

None of this makes any sense, but don't take my word for it. Please do your own research and come to your own conclusions. In the next post I'm going to delve into the history of the great Tabernacle pipe organ, the largest pipe organ in the world. As you will soon discover, the organ's story is just as ridiculous as the Tabernacle itself. Stay tuned...

In the meantime, here is one final quote by Stewart Grow that really sums up everything I've been trying to get across in this post, while simultaneously contradicting accounts (about nails and iron) given by other historians:

It had now been twenty years since Brigham Young and his band first settled in Utah. The area was still remote from other major centers of culture or supply. Communications and transportation were slow and difficult. Under these circumstances, the builders of the Tabernacle were obligated to achieve their goal through ingenuity and adaptation. The result was a unique edifice embodying many ingenious techniques. Wooden dowels and rawhide were made to substitute for bolts, nails, and steel straps. The success of these adaptations is attested by the generations of service the building has rendered. Its design has been applauded as one of the world's most perfect specimens of architecture. (Grow, A Tabernacle in the Desert, pp. 61-62)

And here are some interesting historical photos of the Tabernacle provided by the Salt Lake Tribune:


  1. If you look closely you'll learn that the Mountain Meadows Massacre is also a complete myth, orchestrated by military intelligence, I believe. If you want more evidence write me at

  2. Thanks, Kendal. Everything you've researched (and I've watched many videos from Jon Levi and My Lunch Breaks etc.) begs a question, why. And I know you added that at the end also. Why, especially from the perspective of the LDS Church, conceal that another people built something incredible before us? Wouldn't that lead easy credence to the stories from the book of Mormon?
    On the other hand, if there were already buildings of such grandeur in place when the pioneers arrived to SLC, wouldn't there be a ton of notes about it in everyone's journals and letters? I find it hard to believe that "they" scrubbed every bit of information about this from history. Almost as hard to believe as the official narrative of these buildings being "found"

    1. Great question Stan. I've heard (and this is speculation) that LDS leaders confiscated journals of early pioneers as part of the Mormon Inquisition, and if the general membership was just as apt to follow the prophet (mostly out of fear of blood atonement) back then as are they today (responding to Nelson's call to get vaxxed, etc.), then I think this was a possible scenario. The question of journals is largely the biggest counter argument thrown my way, but the irony is that no one is able to produce any journal entries at all, especially the ones supposedly written by Latter-Day Saints who worked on these buildings.

      Everyone who throws this argument at me just assumes that these journals must exist, but every time I ask for proof no one is able to come up with a single entry. After publishing this post a guy on facebook used the same argument against me, but when I asked him if he had access to the journals he said no, and that it didn't matter. Clearly, he wasn't interested in finding the truth, he just wanted to defend his paradigm.

      Instead of looking for journals that don't exist (or are being held in the Church repositories), perhaps looking at patterns we find in narratives can yield more answers. There is a Russian mathematician named Anatoly Fomenko who has written a series of books entitled "History: Fiction or Science?" during the 1990s. He looked at history as a series of numerical patterns, and as he studied different time epochs, he found correlating patterns, as if the writers of history simply just copied the patterns as they wrote about different civilizations. I highly recommend his books, although it will take years for a person to get through them.

      My point here is that we find patterns in the stories told by the narrators, and that is where we can find answers. My Lunch Break uses this method and has discovered that the AI that writes these narrators is very repetitive, especially with names of people involved in the "construction", with fire narratives, architects dying before the building is completed, etc.

      It is not as difficult for a multi-generational elite in control of historical narratives to scrub almost every truth out of the history books. This is just what dictators do who want to keep common people within their control. Instead of looking for journals and proof from men like Jim Bridger who obviously would have seen the buildings even before Brigham Young, maybe the question to ask is if Jim Bridger existed at all. Two hundred years is a long window of time to change history and it is a fact that a people can completely forget their history and be confounded in their language in just one generation (or about 40 years). All you have to do is reeducate the rising generation and throw the resistors in jail or in insane asylums.

      George Orwell, I've heard, was a freemason, and in his book 1984 he tried to warn us of things that I believe he personally knew. I don't believe we had the technology to build or own skyscrapers until the 1950s, and that everything that existed before then was built by the previous civilization, the Tartarians or whoever they really were. Orwell made this telling statement about the fictional country of Oceania, his representation for America, that should really sound in our ears:

      "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past... Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture repainted, every statue, street, and, building renamed, every date altered. And the process continues day by day... Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. (George Orwell, 1984)


This is the Place IX: A Tabernacle and an Assembly Hall

  Previously: Inhabiting the Desolate Cities Welcome readers. I'm nine posts deep into the topic of the Old World in Utah, yet I feel li...