The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Were Nails Used to Build the Salt Lake Tabernacle?

The Salt Lake Tabernacle is a historic civil engineering landmark and home to the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was completed in 1867 to house meetings for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as the location for the Church’s general conferences for 132 years.

The Tabernacle was designed by Henry Grow, under the direction of Brigham Young, who was President of the Church at the time. Tradition suggests that Young made the first model of the Tabernacle using a boiled egg and toothpicks to show the rounded roof. See Deseret News article »

The building’s unique design accounts for its extraordinary acoustics, which allows a single pin drop to be heard from 250 feet away.

Contrary to popular belief, nails were used to build the Salt Lake Tabernacle. In fact, tens of thousands of nails were used in the construction, as documented in Gathering as One: The History of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Since there are so many wooden pegs in place to support the lattice truss work, it may have caused some people to believe that there were no nails, when in fact there were. As pictured below, many of the nails were used to hold rawhide straps around the lattice work, which were placed to keep the wood from splitting.

Nails are used to hold rawhide strips in place.

A Mormon Newsroom article reported, “Nails and washers were forged from leftover military equipment or the worn shoes of oxen; bolts, however, were purchased and shipped from the East.”

Take a virtual walking tour of the Salt Lake Tabernacle attic, which is so realistic you’ll want to lower your head at the top step.