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GROUP BUYS HISTORIC TABERNACLE

The only LDS Tabernacle still unrestored is to be purchased by a local foundation dedicated to its restoration.

Only 22 of 44 tabernacles are still in existence, including the one in Wellsville.A contract concluding the sale of the city-owned building to the Wellsville Foundation was signed Wednesday. The Wellsville Foundation, formed in May of 1994, will assume possession of the building Oct. 1 under a five-year mortgage.

The contract negotiated between the two groups includes provision for the city to rent office space in the building until completion of new city offices. It also allows the city use of the building for special events.

The contract is the result of several months of negotiations between the Wellsville Foundation and the city, which has held ownership since 1981. Prior to that time, the tabernacle had served as a ward and stake building for the LDS Church. It was sold to the city when local church leaders determined that it was inadequate for their needs.

The assembly hall, with its arched ceiling, is one of the building's unique features. Its acoustics are unrivaled and could not be duplicated with modern construction methods. Those acoustic qualities lead to frequent requests from musical groups to perform in the building.

Although the building had seen little use in recent years, the Wellsville Foundation has held cultural activities there to remind Cache Valley residents of the building's beauty and utility. The group has also been actively raising funds for maintenance and renovation. Their biggest fund-raising event is an annual benefit auction held in conjunction with Founder's Day activities. Last year's auction was a popular event, bringing hundreds of people, and over $5,000, into the tabernacle fund.

A wide variety of items will be offered for sale at this year's auction at 1 p.m. Sept. 4.

The group hopes to improve the tabernacle's comfort and energy efficiency. The building currently houses the Wellsville city offices, a Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum and a small art and photo gallery. In addition, it is home to the Lion's Club and provides space for community education and recreation functions.

Once it is remodeled, the members of the Wellsville Foundation intend it to serve as a center for civic activities and human services for all age groups in the community. Officers of the foundation include Clarke Maughan, board chair-man; Dean Baxter, vice chairman; Dave Bell, president; Lynn Burgess, first vice president; Kelly Maughan, second vice president; and Kathy Hanna, secretary.