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The Tabernacle through the years

SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – It's the center of Salt Lake City and when it comes to Temple Square, the Tabernacle is one of the key pieces.
SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – It's the center of Salt Lake City and when it comes to Temple Square, the Tabernacle is one of the key pieces.

It's played host to LDS General Conference, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, national celebrities and even presidents of the United States.

It all began in the late 1850's and to this day the Tabernacle remains a structural marvel.

"Structural engineers come to this building to try to figure out how the pioneers did it," said Emily Utt, Historic Sites Curator for the LDS Church.

They did it with sacrifice and hardship at a time they were living in the wilderness.

"They found stone from the local canyons, they brought in wood from the local canyons and put people to work," said Utt.

All to fulfill the vision of the president of the church, Brigham Young.

"He wanted a place where pioneers could meet and everyone could see the prophet and hear him speak," said Utt.

Construction was complete and the Tabernacle was dedicated in 1867.
Able to hold 15,000 people, it was one of the biggest buildings in the United States, it was even right up there with the biggest concert halls in Europe.
Due to the size it evolved to more than just a religious meeting place.

"The list of who has spoken from this podium and who has stood on this stage is almost a who's who of American history. Every famous person you can think of, if they are coming to Utah they are going to speak here," said Utt.

People like Oscar Wilde, Buffalo Bill Cody and Susan B. Anthony just to name a few. Then there are numerous visits from the highest office in the land, 18 presidents to be exact, dating back to 1872.

Franklin D. Roosevelt made three stops at the Tabernacle, in 1920, 1932 and 1936.

John F. Kennedy addressed the crowd in 1960 and came for another visit in 1963.

A storied history and the book isn't closed just yet.

"This is still the place to come if you want to hear a great speech or a great concert," said Utt.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's 1963 visit. He was assassinated 55 days later.

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