Monday, December 20, 2010

Even Buildings Come and Go

Once a year or so, someone comments that I should include more things of a personal nature on this blog. Here goes. We somehow collected a surplus of Christmas trees over the years, and this year the wife gave away the biggest one, leaving us with (and none of these are real) one that's between three and four feet, a pair with lights only, both about three feet tall and kept outside, and a kind of bush that's also in the four foot range, but thin enough to get your hands around top to bottom. Just for fun we departed from the usual decoration scheme for the tree mentioned first and decorated it with little plastic animals, which could also be used when little kids come. So the tree has fish, chickens, dogs, penguins, panthers, dinosaurs, elephants and even a whale, all in natural colors. So there's the personal item. I never said it was interesting.

About ninety years ago, the Eureka Inn was built and went into business as the largest hotel facility (100 rooms on four floors) between San Francisco and Portland. The Inn was known for its unique design and striking appearance and served as the center of downtown for a long time, hosting many famous people while serving as a dining/entertainment/meeting center. I'm not sure it ever reached the stage of dilapidation, but for reasons pertaining to both profitability and the cost of upkeep, it was closed six years ago.
But the story doesn't end there. New ownership was found (a couple from China), work was performed on the most important facilities, and the inn was reopened earlier this year. The wife and I went last week to hear both a local choir and a well-known brass jazz ensemble. It was fun, though I wish they had deployed more chairs. We could also see why the place had such renown through much of the 20th century.

That's the happy side of this entry. The sad side begins with the construction in the early 1880's of the Provo Tabernacle, Provo, UT. Most people, when hearing the word "tabernacle" think of the structure in Salt Lake City which holds 6,000 people or so and serves as the official home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But other such buildings, all smaller than Salt Lake City's, exist in other Mormon-built cities in the West, and carry that same name. They were built, and are still owned by, the LDS ("Mormon") Church. They are larger than regular buildings used for meetings, and are often used for meetings of a larger administrative unit ("stakes"). Over the years, local tabernacles, which, unlike LDS temples, require no special certification to enter, have been used for concerts and even political events when large indoor crowds are anticipated. They are what we'd now call multiple-use buildings, although they wouldn't be used for trade shows or sports events.
This last week, the Provo Tabernacle, a building I have been inside a dozen times or more, suffered a major fire, cause so far unknown, which left the outside walls standing, but not much else. It's a big loss, especially to local Mormons, but also to the greater community.
Either replacing or rebuilding the Tabernacle will cost millions and take a long time to accomplish. I don't know which alternative church leaders will take, although I believe they have the resources to do either without having to borrow.
So, there we are. Merry Christmas to all, and let's hope the loud repetition of seasonal
music doesn't cause anyone to go nuts.


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