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Inaugurals full of pageantry, history

When Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert becomes Utah's 17th governor on Tuesday, his inauguration will be the third in the state's history not held on the first Monday in January.

Still, one can expect a good deal of tradition at the ceremony, including a 19-gun salute given with cannon, prayers by Utah religious leaders, and a flyover by the Utah National Guard.

Olene Walker, the state's only other lieutenant governor to be promoted after the governor was picked by the president for national service, was inaugurated on Nov. 5, former Gov, Mike Leavitt was inaugurated for his third time on a Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001, choosing Statehood day for the ceremony when the first Monday fell on New Year's Day.

Utah's inauguration traditions began on Jan. 6, 1896, when Heber Manning Wells was sworn in as Utah's first governor.

Wells's inauguration took place in the largest meetinghouse in the city, the historic Mormon Tabernacle. The largest American flag ever made up to that time was attached to the Tabernacle's dome for the occasion. The ceremony also featured the first performance of the song, "Utah, We Love Thee," by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the 16th Infantry Band.

Subsequent inaugural ceremonies have taken place every four years on the first Monday in January, until Leavitt's third term. Photographs of many of these events have appeared in the pages of the Deseret News, and photo researcher Ron Fox has culled the newspaper archives for images of these historic events. Many of these photos, as well as scanned images of historic inauguration documents, can be found on the newspaper Web site at desnews.com. Fox's research into gubernatorial inaugurations also provided most of the information for this article.

That first inauguration was the only one held in a religious building. When Wells was inaugurated for the second time, on Jan. 7, 1901, the ceremonies were moved to the new City and County Building, which also hosted inaugurations for John Cutler and William Spry.

During his first term, Spry undertook the construction of a new state Capitol building, and his 1913 inauguration for his second term was the last one held in the City County Building.

When Simon Bamberger was sworn in four years later, amid the booming of cannon and strains of "Columbia the Gem of the Ocean," it was the first such ceremony held in the new Capitol.

Since that time, the Capitol has housed all the inaugurations except for the 2005 swearing-in ceremony for Jon Huntsman, which was held at Abravanel Hall because the capitol building was being restored.

Bamberger's ceremony was also the first to be recorded by a motion picture camera, and was followed by the state's first inaugural parade.

Inauguration ceremonies have adapted to the changing economy, as well.

When Harry Hooper Blood was inaugurated in 1933, in the midst of the Depression, he sat in a large leather chair which was borrowed for the occasion from the Supreme Court offices.

Jon Huntsman Jr.'s 2009 inauguration ceremony was trimmed back as well to reflect the economy,

At his 1909 inaugural, Spry received a traditional 17-gun salute given by four cannon of the Utah National Guard. Since that time, two more salutes have been added. The 19-gun salute was dropped from the second inauguration of Herbert Brown Maw on Jan. 6, 1945, during the height of World War II.

The cannon returned four years later in 1949, when Joseph Bracken Lee was inaugurated as Utah's ninth governor, and for the first time planes from a squadron of the Utah National Guard performed a flyover of the state Capitol.

The cannon salute was dropped again in 1977 at the governor's request when Scott M. Matheson was inaugurated, but has since been restored to the ceremony, and can be expected to ring out Tuesday after Herbert takes the oath of office.

e-mail: mhaddock@desnews.com