Construction on “the Great Tabernacle” began in the Spring of 1863 and was completed in 1875. The design of the building was meant to roughly reflect the shape of a tent, based on the Old Testament tabernacle (tent) that housed the Ark of the Covenant prior to the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. The Tabernacle was considered an engineering marvel at the time of its construction: the hall is 150 feet wide and 250 long with no internal pillars breaking up the span of the dome. The openness of the building and its elliptical shape contributes to its amazing acoustics; an orator speaking in a normal conversational pitch on the dias at the front of the building can be clearly heard in all seating areas. Including the balcony (added at a later date), the Tabernacle can seat between 6-7,000 people. Although it is no longer used as the main venue for the LDS Annual Conference, it continues to be the primary performance home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir which debuted there July 4, 1873.