When constructed in 1917, the Montpelier Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was one of three in the world. Designed by the Salt Lake architectural firm of Pope and Burton who designed the LDS Temples at Laie, Hawaii, and Cardston, Canada, this semi-circular design is lightly ornamented with Prairie Style details.
The 1200 seat auditorium features a balcony, organ loft and two large mural paintings by noted regional artist Minerva Teichert. Of the three examples constructed, only this tabernacle has been in continuous use since as a religious and community meeting space. It has been listed in the National Register as a contributing feature of the Montpelier National Historic District.
The building never suffered the decay seen by many historic structures, but after nearly a century of use, the tabernacle was renovated between 2013 and 2015. Exterior walls were seismically strengthened. New structural sheer walls were added without changing the interior or exterior character of the building. Wood casement windows were restored. Asbestos material added to the building in the 1960s was largely removed. A new mechanical system was installed while the original cast iron radiators were retained in place as decorative features. Interior finishes were restored. Original oak pews were stripped of several layers of inappropriate paint and stain and restored to their original finish. The historic murals were conserved and reinstalled in the building. A new restroom addition was added to the rear of the building to increase functionality and to avoid changing original finishes in the restrooms already in the building. New landscape plantings were designed to minimize future damage to the building and to highlight the architectural character of the building.
A stated goal for the project team was for building occupants to wonder at the end of the project what work exactly had been done. Except for new carpet and a fresh coat of paint, building occupants will likely be unable to tell the massive amount of work that took place at the Montpelier Tabernacle. Montpelier residents can now look forward to the building’s centennial.