The Paris Idaho Stake Tabernacle

This article originally appeared in Vol.53, No.1 (2006) of Pioneer Magazine.

by Pioneer Magazine

The Paris Idaho Tabernacle is a monumental building, constructed in the decorative Romanesque style, was one of the first major projects designed by architect Joseph Don Carlos Young after his graduation from college in 1880, It was begun in 1884 [and] completed in 1888. Large and rectangular the building has three towers of differing heights on the west front and a dramatic choir loft and rostrum in the semicircular east end The main tower in the center contains the entrance, which is neatly covered with a hipped roof supported on decorating brackets. Two windows rise above the entrance. The steeple above is gabled on each of the four sides, and each gable contains a round window.

The warmth and intimacy of natural red/brown tones of wood laid in geometric patterns on the ceiling leave a lasting impression. This pattern is interrupted with the columns that support not only the roof but the outstanding leg of the U-shaped gallery below. These are the only columns in a tabernacle to support both a balcony and a roof 

Long desired, the tabernacle was built by voluntary contributions and labor at a cost of $50,000 [with] red sandstone hauled 18 miles by horse and oxen teams from Indian Creek on the east side of Bear Lake. The shingles lasted 40 years on the main roof and the tower still had original shingles in 1984. The doors are an old Victorian technique of graining [which] involved first painting the wood white, varnishing over the paint, and, while still wet, using special tools to change its appearance to walnut, oak birch or mahogany.

The floor slopes to provide a better view of the podium. The benches are all original [and they] seat nearly 1500 people. The ceiling is very unique, built by a ship-builder, James Callings Sr., who developed a style used in sea-firing vessels in homes in New England. Acoustically the building nears perfection [and] is listed today in the Registry of Historic Places of the United States.

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