The church's tabernacle-building tradition

Like pearls in a sea of obscurity, rare Mormon tabernacles dot the Western states desert as reminders of antiquated times of architectural mastery.

While about half of the 100-plus-year-old historic jewels have been razed or sold over the years, many have not only survived the century but are still functioning houses of worship.

The Granite Tabernacle is one of only 20 tabernacles that's made "The List."

Essentially an endangered species list kept by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it comprises only 58 of the church's most valuable historic buildings that are still being used for ecclesiastical purposes.

"Which means they have an additional level of protection and care that's exercised when work is done to them," said Scott Christensen, archivist for the Church History Department. "We're exceptionally careful not to remove important architectural, historical elements. Those are buildings the church probably will never sell or tear down."

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