Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper."
Mosiah 11:8

My family and I recently went on a tour of the LDS Conference Center. I learn some interesting facts from our tour guide. Some of the facts she mentioned:
  • The conference center is believed to be world's largest indoor auditorium.
  • Exterior walls are 1 1/2 inch thick granite (quartzite) quarried from Little Cottonwood Canyon and ashlar granite.
  • Cherry wood and Pear wood is used throughout.
  • Took 3 years to build with 1,100 employees on-site during peak construction schedule.
  • It is 1. 5 million square feet.
  • The roof is over 4 acres.
  • There are 1600 theatrical lights.
  • The building incorporates over 50,000 miles of wire--enough to encircle the globe twice.
  • The building and grounds cover 10 acres or one city block--the same area as all of Temple Square.
  • Seating capacity is 21,333 in comparision to the Madison Square Garden which seats around 20,000
  • The total cost is not released by the church.
But the most interesting thing that the tour guide mentioned was about the "Hinckley Pulpit" which was built from the walnut tree from President Hinckley's backyard. . He gave the Conference Center's first address in April 2000, sharing a personal story about a black walnut tree he had planted near his family home nearly four decades before the tree died the previous year.

He inquired about possibly using the walnut wood for the soon-to-be-completed building's pulpit; the tree provided just enough for the pulpit's thin veneer.

VENEER: from Websters Dictionary: a superficially valuable or pleasing appearance. To face or cover an object with any material that is more desirable as a surface material that the basic material of the object. A deceptive, superficial show, a fa├žade.

This is the story that President Gordon B. Hinckley's told during the Saturday morning session of LDS general conference on April 1, 2000
  • "Well, some 36 years ago, I planted a black walnut. It was in a crowded area where it grew straight and tall to get the sunlight. A year ago, for some reason it died. But walnut is a precious furniture wood. I called Brother Ben Banks of the Seventy, who, before giving his full time to the church, was in the business of hardwood lumber. He brought his two sons ... , one a bishop and the other recently released as a bishop and who now run the business, to look at the tree. From all they could tell it was solid, good and beautiful wood. One of them suggested that it would make a pulpit for this hall. The idea excited me. The tree was cut down and then cut into two heavy logs. Then followed the long process of drying. ... , first naturally and then kiln drying. The logs were cut into boards at a sawmill in Salem, Utah. The boards were then taken to Fetzer's woodworking plant, where expert craftsmen designed and built this magnificent pulpit. ... with that wood.  The end product is beautiful. I wish all of you could examine it closely.... It represents superb workmanship, and here I am speaking to you from the tree I grew in my back yard, where my children played and also grew. It is an emotional thing for me."

Now, I was always under the impression that the pulpit was made of solid walnut.

However, Come to find out the tree was already dead in the backyard, and there wasn't enough wood to build the pulpit. There was only enough to provide a thin veneer. The pulpit appears to be made of walnut, but it is actually is not.. it is made out of cherry wood, with a veneer of walnut. That is why the fire and water damage that occured at the conference center a few weeks ago was such a concern. When there is water damage, any veneer could possible warp, or come detached and expose the true material underneath.