the arrival of Johnston's Army in 1857, activities at the Social Hall
ceased. The soldiers at Camp Floyd, however, soon organized a theater.
The Camp Floyd Theater, built of pine boards and canvas, accommodated
200 people. The Germania Singing Club also opened a social hall at Camp
Floyd and put on performances in German.
1859 a new company, the Mechanics' Dramatic Association, was formed
in Salt Lake City. Harry Bowring offered the first floor of his new
home for the Theater, which became known as Bowring's Theater. The theater
was located on 100 South between 300 and 400 East. Brigham Young soon
decided that the Saints should have a first-class Theater, and excavations
on the corner of 100 South and State streets began in July 1861.
Salt Lake Theater, finished in March 1862, was the largest structure
yet built by the Saints and cost $100,000. William H. Folsom was the
architect of the exterior, which was Doric in style. E.L.T. Harrison,
an architect from London and recent convert*, modeled
much of the interior after the London Drury Lane Theater. Building supplies
came from the now-disbanding Camp Floyd and the wreckage of government
wagons on the trail.
theater was dedicated with a prayer by Daniel H. Wells, and an address
by Brigham Young. Over 1,500 people crowded the theater for the opening,
and many continued to come for later performances. Dubbed the "Cathedral
in the Desert," the theater became a neutral ground for Mormons and
non-Mormons, although it was controlled by the Mormons.