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A gleaming new temple stands in the center of Provo which has risen Phoenix-like from the flames of December 17, 2010. For nearly 130 years the Provo Tabernacle stood in downtown Provo accommodating myriad church meetings, concerts, and commencement exercises. Here are a few interesting items from the Tabernacle’s history:

1. The Tabernacle was Provo’s second tabernacle. The original tabernacle was considerably smaller, stood to the North of the second, and faced Center Street. This first tabernacle was built 1852-1867, was constructed from stone, adobe brick, and wood. The original tabernacle—also known as the Provo Meeting House—was used as late as 1902 by the Provo 6th Ward while their building was under construction. This first tabernacle stood until it was razed in 1919. (1)

Center Street   Two Tabernacles

2. The Tabernacle was patterned after the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake. The plan for the Tabernacle was done by William H. Folsom and was initially modeled after the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. (2)

3. It was first used for a presidential memorial service. The first use of the building was a memorial service held for U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant on August 8, 1885—before there was a permanent floor laid down or doors and windows installed.(3)

4. The Tabernacle hosted a U.S. President. In 1909 U.S. President William H. Taft visited Provo on the campaign trail and spoke in the Tabernacle to a crowd of 3,000. (4)

5. The Tabernacle was long infested with bats. For many years thousands of bats inhabited the attic of the Tabernacle. They would occasionally fly about during meetings providing quite a distraction. The worst part was the smell of the bat guano in the summertime. (5)

6. Sergei Rachmaninoff performed at the Tabernacle. His performance filled the tabernacle with 3,000 attendees on December 5, 1938. The evening was memorable not just for the virtuoso’s performance but for an unwelcome interruption when the Orem Inter-Urban came clanging by. During the interruption Rachmaninoff reportedly held his hands suspended above the keys during the interruption and then drove down again upon the keys once the disturbance had passed. (6)

7. Its signature stained glass windows were installed in 1917. The stained glass windows adorning the Tabernacle were not original—they were added to the building in 1917, replacing the original frosted glass windows. (7)

8. General Conference was held in the tabernacle. The April sessions of the 56th (1886) and 57th (1887) Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were held in Provo’s Utah Stake Tabernacle. The building was far from complete (no benches, windows, or doors) and there was much that had to be done in order to accommodate the congregation for a General Conference. (8)

9. It was wired for electricity in 1891. The Tabernacle was wired for electricity in 1891—for the first few years this power was supplied from the turbines at the Provo Woolen Mills on 2nd West. Employees of the Provo Woolen Mills provided the tabernacle with three chandeliers each outfitted with 24 incandescent bulbs. (9)

10. The building held an original Minerva Teichert painting. Teichert’s painting of Joseph Smith receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood was sold to the Provo Stakes in 1953 and placed in the Tabernacle. It was among the many losses when the building caught fire. (10)


  1. Richard W. Jackson, Places of Worship: 150 Years of Latter-day Saint Architecture (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003), 74-75.
  2. C. Mark Hamilton, Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture & City Planning (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 72-73.
  3. N. LaVerl Christensen, Provo’s Two Tabernacles and the People Who Built Them ([Provo]: Provo Utah East Stake, 1983), 120.
  4. Susan Easton Black, Glenn Rawson, and Dennis Lyman; The Story of the Provo City Center Temple: Commemorative Edition (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2015), 8.
  5. D. Robert Carter, Tales from Utah Valley ([Provo]: Daily Herald, 2005), vol. 1, 91.
  6. D. Robert Carter, Tales from Utah Valley ([Provo]: Daily Herald, 2005), vol. 1, 87-91.
  7. N. LaVerl Christensen, Provo’s Two Tabernacles and the People Who Built Them ([Provo]: Provo Utah East Stake, 1983) 160.
  8. N. LaVerl Christensen, Provo’s Two Tabernacles and the People Who Built Them ([Provo]: Provo Utah East Stake, 1983) 124.
  9. “The First Large Factory in Utah,” Utah History to Go (http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/statehood_and_the_progressive_era/thefirstlargefactoryinutah.html), accessed 17 Dec 2015; Tabernacle to Temple: The Past, Present & Future of Provo’s City Center, Daily Herald Supplement, 21 Jul 2013, 16.
  10. Anna Jean Backus, Provo Pioneers and Their Tabernacles (Hurricane, Utah: AJB Distributing, 2004), 54-56.

TheBerenstainBearsYou may think this post’s title sounds crazy, but read a little closer. Does anything seem strange? Just the slightest bit not-right, grammatically speaking? If so, fear not -- you’re far from alone.

The Berenstein Bears are one of the great institutions in children’s literature. They’re practically foundational texts for most Americans under 50, with hundreds of stories written in the series about a family of bears named Berenstein.

Except that isn’t their name at all. While many people (this writer included) distinctly remember the name spelled Berenstein (pronounced  “-steen”), the actual name of both the bears and their authors is Berenstain (pronounced, as it would be, “-stain”).

This controversy has created online factions, with one side assuring the other that it has always been spelled Berenstain, and that this is just a widespread misunderstanding. But some who believe in BerenstEin argue that this controversy is something more – a conspiracy.

The theory has been floating around the blogosphere since at least 2011, but gained significant steam late last year when Stranger Dimensions reported on the issue. To paraphrase some fairly serious quantum physics, the theory posits that sometime between 1986 and 2011, our universe, in which the bears were named BerenstEin, merged with a near-identical parallel universe in which the family is called BerenstAin – which altered our history and left many people perplexed by the change. Further theorists argue that this mess could even have been created by an errant time traveler.

Convinced? Many true believers refuse to accept any evidence of these parallel universes, including the son of Stan and Jan BerenstAin.

While we more than likely didn’t collide with an alternate dimension at some point in the 1990s, this discrepancy in names may be evidence of a real psychological enigma: the Mandela Effect.

The Mandela Effect is based on large groups of people collectively remembering Nelson Mandela dying in a South African jail in the 1990s, which, of course, didn’t happen. But this sort of phenomenon happens more often than one would expect, and this Berenstain conspiracy certainly fits the narrative.  

Whether you believe it’s always been spelled Berenstain or think there’s something more cosmically sinister at play, you can check out the many books featuring the family at the Provo City Library.

Which universe do you live in?
The real one. It's always been Berenstain!
I swear it's Berenstein. Years of memories can't be wrong!
Quiz Maker
 
 
 
 
 
 

If you're like me you're still riding on a high from last month's Star Wars release.  The new film brought back all the old feelings I got when I watched Episode 4 for the first time: laughing with beloved characters, believing in the Force, and wanting my own light saber. The only way this feeling can be diminished is realizing it will be 2017 before we get a new Star Wars movie!!  So if you need something to help you pass the time, here's a list of awesome books that will fill the gaping hole in your life left by Star Wars Episode VII.  Each one is an excellent book with an epic tale of good versus evil!

mistbornMISTBORN
By Brandon Sanderson

(2006)

This book is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES, and even if it's not technically a "teen" book, it has a teen protagonist and is perfectly suitable for Young Adult readers.  It also is a perfect choice for Star Wars fans!  It has interesting, likable characters who discover that they have mythical kick-butt powers, and a truly epic fight between good and evil.   

 

insigniaINSIGNIA 
By S. J. Kincaid

(2012)

This is a great one for Sci-Fi geeks like me who can't wait to own their own virtual reality unit and start exploring the galaxy.  The main character, Tom, is a sort of VR prodigy who gets noticed by the government for his gaming prowess and is offered a place with the Intrasolar Forces: an elite fighting force controlling the drones out there battling in WWIII. 

 

gracelingGRACELING
By Kristin Cashore
(2008)

A young protagonist who has special abilities she is just beginning to understand goes on a journey of self discovery.  Sound familiar?  Warning: this one will be hard to put down so make sure to clear some time in your schedule.

  

readyplayeroneREADY PLAYER ONE 
By Ernest Cline

(2011)

Another technically non-"teen" book that features a teen protagonist and that content-wise I think is suitable for young adults, READY PLAYER ONE is a book I can't recommend enough to fans of sci fi adventures.  Part puzzle solving mystery (think Indiana Jones), part virtual reality reality romp (think The Matrix), and part homage to 1980's nerd culture, this book fits in perfectly with any Star Wars fan. 

 

icemarkTHE CRY OF THE ICEMARK
By Stuart Hill

(2005)

Thirrin is a beautiful princess but also an intrepid warrior, and she must find a way to protect her land from a terrible invasion.  She'll need to ally with strange creatures and cultures in order to lead her people to victory.  Fans of Leia will follow Thirrin with interest to see if she can rise above all of her challenges.

  

 

Hopefully a few of these will scratch that Star Wars itch we'll all be plagued with until next year!!  Until then... may the force be with you.

Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

So, with no further ado, we bring you 6 Degrees of Reading, Abusive Sisters and Spinsters edition.

PERSUASION
by Jane Austen
(1818)

Eight years earlier, Anne Elliot’s friends and family convinced her to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth.  Now 27 years old and considered a spinster, Anne divides her time between her father and sisters, all of whom use and abuse her.  When Anne is reunited with Captain Wentworth, she feels the full weight of her regret.

THE HIDING PLACE
by Corrie ten Boom
(1984)

Corrie Ten Boom never expected to be a political prisoner; the youngest daughter in a large, religious family, she lived an uneventful life.  Corrie, a self-described spinster, worked in her father’s watch repair shop and helped around the house.  During the Nazi invasion, however, she and her family leave their peaceful lives behind, joining the Dutch Resistance and housing runaway Jews.

AUDREY HEPBURN: AN ELEGANT SPIRIT
by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
(2005)

Written by her oldest son, Sean, this biography follows Audrey from her boarding school days in London, through her teen years spent carrying messages and performing fundraising ballets for the Dutch Resistance during World War II, and into her early adulthood as an aspiring actress.  Ferrer understandably focuses in particular on Hepburn’s later experiences not only as a movie star but as a loving mother of two sons and on her extensive work with UNICEF.

SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY, MAYBE
by Lauren Graham
(2014) 

When I saw that Lauren Graham, known for her roles on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood (two of my favorite shows), had published a book, I knew I had to read it.  Someday, Someday, Maybe follows young, aspiring actress Franny Banks, named after a character in her deceased mother’s favorite book, as she tries to establish her career in New York.

ROSE DAUGHTER 
by Robin McKinley
(1997)

Robin Mckinley earned widespread acclaim for her first Beauty and the Beast retelling, Beauty, and her Newberry Award Winning fantasy novel, The Hero and the Crown.  Fewer readers are familiar with this second fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast, however.  Beauty, whose mother died years before, lives with her merchant father and sisters.  After losing all their money, the family moves to Rose Cottage, where Beauty discovers a deep love for roses and gardening.  Her father sets off to remake his fortune, but he ends up making a terrible bargain with a beast within a hidden castle.

ELLA ENCHANTED
by Gail Carson Levine
(1997)

In this fairytale retelling, Ella of Frell lives with a terrible curse of obedience placed on her in childhood.  As she befriends elves, conquers ogres, outsmarts the stepmother and stepsisters who use and abuse her, and falls in love, Ella never loses her spunk or her determination to break the curse.

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