The St.George Tabernacle is located in Washington County, Utah. Its construction started in 1863 and was completed in 1875, which at that time cost 800,000 dollars to build. It is continued to be used for LDS meetings, concerts, choir recitals, and more. The building was named after St. George who started the town in Utah after being kicked out of Missouri. They were Mormans and were drawn there for its rich farming potential.The settlement of St. George, Utah Territory was seen to be an important site for the future of the LDS church. It was intended to be a cotton-growing town to allow the Mormons to be self-sufficient. The arid climate of Utah resulted in poor harvests, resulting in economic hardship. LDS leader Brigham Young then commissioned the construction of public works buildings in the area to assist the farmers.
The St. George Tabernacle was built shortly after the establishment of St. George, Utah. It was built under the direction of Brigham Young who told Elder Erastus Snow, the local leader in St. George, he wanted a "commodius well-furnished meetinghouse, one large enough to comfortably seat at least 2,000 persons, and that will not only be useful, but also an ornament to your city."
The tabernacle was intended to work as a church and a courthouse. Construction began on June 1, 1863. The building was opened on May 14, 1876, with a dedication ceremony featuring Brigham Young, Jr.
The structure follows a New England style, similar to Nauvoo Temples. The Tabernacle was constructed from red sandstone bricks quarried from nearby locations. The clock in the tower, constructed in London, added a level of status to the community. It allowed the Saints to signal various events, such as when Church began, when Church ended, and the start and end of community gatherings. Additionally, it allowed a standard estimate of time, which to that point had been determined by when the sun came up each morning.
Miles Romney, the son of noted artist George Romney, created the plans for the building. The main clock and bell tower stands 140 feet tall. Basement walls were 3 feet thick and the above-ground walls are 2.5 feet thick. The red sandstone bricks used to construct the building were intended to match the surrounding red cliffs. Inside, ceilings rise 29 feet high with a plaster cornice, supported by twenty columns. A gallery was built ten feet off the ground on the north, south, and east walls, with two circular staircases serving the east end. An organ was added in 1878. All materials were local, except for windows, shipped from Wilmington, California. When completed, the church could seat 1,200 people. The clock tower was originally used by the city residents to tell time.
After the balcony was completed and in place, Brigham Young visited the Tabernacle and noticed that people sitting in the balcony were so high that they could not see the pulpit. President Young directed the building superintendent, Miles Romney, to cut off the various posts holding up the balcony to allow those sitting in the balcony to see the pulpit.
Since that time the St. George Tabernacle has continued to serve the people of St. George as a gathering place and today regular concerts are held there. It remains a monument to the faithful dedication of the early St. George pioneers and earned the nickname "jewel of the desert". It underwent restoration in 1993 to help it resemble its original state. The building is open to the public and hosts church services and local events, such as public concerts.