In Brigham City, the metal clad center spire of the historic Box Elder Tabernacle is a beloved part of the local skyline. So, when it was discovered that the steeple was leaking water the expert team at McNeil Engineering was called in as roofing consulting experts to both fix the problem and preserve the historic character of the church.
We love working on historic preservation projects! We have been called in for roofing consulting on many preservation projects. And this community landmark is definitely worthy of preservation. The Box Elder Tabernacle, also known as the Brigham City Tabernacle, was completed in 1897. The church building is a designated landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, and has a storied legacy that mirrors the development of the city and state of Utah.
The tabernacle building spire towers tall above the trees and is a focal point on the local skyline — and that’s by design. According to recorded local history, it was Brigham Young himself that chose the spot on Sagebrush Hill for the construction of the church. Sagebrush Hill was so named because it sat a bit higher than the rest of the city, and was outside of the city financial district.
Even with overwhelming community support, it took decades to build the original tabernacle building. The pioneer settlers of the area spent more than 25 years working on the structure. Much of the money raised for the project was donated by the community. The settlers donated produce and eggs for sale. Local settlers also cut and hauled wood from the nearby mountain, as well as rock and stone to build the tabernacle.
It wasn’t an easy project to complete. Construction of the tabernacle was interrupted during the period in which the Transcontinental Railroad was being built, as many members of the community were part of that project. There was also a fire in 1896 that destroyed the original tabernacle.
But the community rallied. They sacrificed their time, resources and talents to build the tabernacle. It was truly a labor of love. Since its completion, the church building has been used for Sunday services, stake conferences, community meetings and gatherings, and more. The building is interwoven in the fabric of community life and local memory.
So, when it was discovered that there was an extensive water leak in the roof and spire of the tabernacle building, the current owner called us looking for help. The McNeil team has more than 35 years experience, and offers a wide range of roofing consulting services. We knew we could offer a solution that would preserve the structure, repair and prevent further damage, and maintain the beloved character of the building.
The plan? After a complete review, our team determined that it would be impossible to make the spire completely watertight. There are too many seams and joints. But, we were able to determine a solution that would preserve the building and minimize ongoing damage by making structural upgrades that will include wrapping the original wood framing in a waterproof membrane, and reinforcing any exposed parts of that frame.
To do that, we had to carefully remove the metal wrap that overlays the spire so we can perform all needed structural engineering and preservation tasks. The finishing touch will be to re-clad the exterior with an embossed, pre-finished metal wrap, which will match the existing tower, including all of its intricate columns, casings, dentils and scalloped metal roof covering.
Right now, work is still underway. So, you might see the scaffolding only. But our plan is to perform the highest quality of work so that when we’re finished, no one will be able to tell any work was done.
That’s our way. We routinely offer a range of services to help with aging or new roofs.
Our years of experience and leadership in roofing consulting make us a trusted community partner for a number of new projects, and historic preservation projects like the one in Brigham City. If that sounds like something you could use, please visit our website and then reach out. We look forward to hearing from you.