Burned Out Provo Tabernacle Research Turns Up Hidden Beautiful Painted Decorations


A forensic researcher of historic properties asked me to look through the Rubble of the burned out Provo Tabernacle recently. Apparently, when the fire burned through the historic structure, it peeled off of the walls many multiple layers of wall paper to reveal original painted walls of plaster. Because the designs are so beautiful and well done, there was quite a bit of excitement about what to do about the find:
1. detach the plaster walls and save the original design work as a historical artifact of the original building?
2. take high resolution photos and tracings to reuse the design work as part of the new restoration of the burned out building

The decision making process as to what to do with the Provo Tabernacle shell is complex. For instance, the building has gone through numerous remodelings, refurnishings, repaintings etc over the last 100+ years… to which “appearance” do you restore/reconstruct the building and it’s interiors? Its probably impossible to know EXACTLY every detail of how the interior was at any time… so, restoring it back to, let’s say, its most historic appearance would have to be based on clues from other similar buildings and artifacts. Quite tricky. If you go back to the most historic look, that is not what defines “pre-existing or pre-fire condition” by the insurance company. So, what are they ethically responsible to fund?

So the decision making process is not quick or easy but it is in motion and all concerned are not only professionally committed to doing a great job, but also emotionally.

Sign on this blog for updates. I have a video planned as soon as I get more info from “headquarters.”

Inside of Provo Tabernacle during clean up after fire

Inside of Provo Tabernacle during clean up after fire

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What can you do at home to take care of your stuff, collectibles, family heirlooms? For a short very interesting video testimonial from a woman whose house burned down go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lCx-xg4BMY

About Scott Haskins

Scott M. Haskins has been in the field of professional art conservation since 1975. He studied and worked doing mural and painting conservation in Italy until 1979. He headed up the painting conservation laboratory at Brigham Young University for the BYU Permanent Art Collection and the LDS HIstorical Department until 1984. He works from Santa Barbara, CA providing art conservation services nationwide. He is also the author of "How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster."
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4 Responses to Burned Out Provo Tabernacle Research Turns Up Hidden Beautiful Painted Decorations

  1. Olivia Hustace says:

    I utterly absolutely love your articles and projects… So interesting, thank you Scott Haskins.

  2. Lynette Mills says:

    I love hearing about the details of this restoration… Keep them coming
    Miss you guys…

  3. glen evans says:

    scott, the work you do is wonderful to me. loved the story of the lost mural from the Provo Tabernacle, and your work to restore it. and the story of the SLC Temple mural tour also. when in town, and time exists for ruminating about life or just a fun time visiting, would love to see you. still work in SLC a day or two weekly, otherwise I reside most days in Provo at our LDS offices there. cheers.

  4. Diane Stevenett says:

    Truly amazing to see it gone. I remember sitting there singing the Messiah at Christmas time with my boyfriend. But to know that you found some remarkable treasures in that rubble is equally amazing! Who could ever believe you could find Historical Decorative Painting on these walls after such a fire….only SCOTT HASKINS!

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