PROVO — Construction crews continue to work on transforming the old fire ravaged Provo Tabernacle into a new temple for the LDS Church. Another milestone was reached as crews poured concrete for the foundation on Thursday.
Residents and tourists have watched the construction with fascination. The 6.8 million pound shell of the Provo Tabernacle is currently being held up 40 feet in the air by 146 steel supports.
"They are 90 feet deep, 9 inch steel casing with concrete in the center and steel rod," said Provo City Center Temple project manager Andy Kirby. "And there is one on the inside of the wall and one on the outside of the wall."
Crews began excavating underneath the Tabernacle in January, but the first phase of the construction was to reinforce the interior of the building, after the groundbreaking 11 months prior.
"There were five rows of brick on the inside of the tabernacle," Kirby said. "We removed the first two rows, put steel ties into the remaining three rows and then built a reinforced concrete shell that gives the historic masonry a lot more stability."
Eventually, the exterior will be cleaned and the original masonry and mortar repaired. The construction team was excited to find that three of the four cupolas did not sustain serious fire damage.
"The timbers on the inside of those roofs are historic to the original construction, and we will be able to preserve three of them and put them back on the temple," Kirby said.
The temple will have a steeple when completed, just as the original tabernacle did in the late 1800s. It will also have two floors in the basement and additional building space will be added underground.
"It is a significant feat," Kirby said. "It is quite rare. It has been great to work on this, first to preserve the historic building that is special to Provo to the citizens and members of the church here, and to repurpose it into a temple. That is pretty rare."
LDS Church officials have not yet given an official completion date for the new temple, but previously stated that the construction would be completed in 2015.