The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently purchased the Travelodge Motel as well as Los 3 Amigos restaurant immediately south of the burned out Provo Tabernacle.
Speculation of what the Church will do with the tabernacle has circulated since the Dec. 17 fire heavily damaged the building. The recent purchase means that the Church now owns a larger, connected portion of the block.
An LDS Church spokesman, Scott Trotter, issued the following statement addressing the Church’s intentions with the land.
“The Church is still evaluating plans for the Provo Tabernacle and surrounding area and will share details as they become available,” Trotter said. “To provide options moving forward we have acquired the hotel and restaurant immediately south of the Tabernacle.”
Charles Krebs, 23, a student studying public relations, said he performed in a free public choral showcase singing for the BYU Men’s Chorus in the tabernacle before the fire.
“It offered a chance to perform in a historical venue, which enabled me to connect better with the Provo community,” Krebs said.
Krebs said the tabernacle seems to have bridged a gap between students and Provo residents.
“Besides BYU, the tabernacle is the main landmark in Provo,” he said. “It became a symbol, not only of the Church, but also the community because of all the community performances.”
The tabernacle has served a powerful role in the community, and this may be a large part of why so much interest surrounds the recent purchase of land south of the building.
Heather Seferovich, the curator of the Education in Zion Gallery in the JFSB, said the tabernacle is an important building in Provo.
“In pioneer times, having a place to meet was incredibly important, especially a building that was large enough to accommodate a significant portion of the population,” she said.
Seferovich said having a building that could serve as a religious gathering place as well as a cultural center was rare when the tabernacle was built. She said the opportunity to meet together in comfort is a blessing that past generations did not experience.
“We take our buildings for granted today,” she said.
Helen Anderson, Provo spokeswoman, commented on the Church’s acquisition of the land relative to the community.
“We have a lot confidence that whatever they do will be very nice and benefit us in one way or another,” she said.
She said people all over the world have taken note of the damage to the tabernacle and mourned its loss. She said the city, however, has positive feelings about the LDS Church owning the land next to the tabernacle.
“We feel very fortunate that they are the owners of the property. We are confident that they will make some very good decisions.”