Salt Lake Temple

Temple Square

Video and Model Details



Black-billed Magpie · Pica hudsonia
Michael Lester, XC300056. Accessible at

Song Sparrow · Melospiza melodia
Kenny Frisch, XC368065. Accessible at

Black-headed Grosbeak · Pheucticus melanocephalus
Kenny Frisch, XC370065. Accessible at


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September 28, 2011

This model represents a complete tear-down and rework of the Salt Lake Temple model, then in progress. Specifically this was a water and grass test. As the grass proved to be difficult to render, I left it out of the final model version.

This model was originally created 28 September 2011.




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Short Render of water and lighting in front of the Salt Lake Temple Square. 3d Model originally created 22 October 2010.



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Simple Model

Model Details


Modeled: Blender 2.49
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A Reflecting pool test for the Salt Lake Temple model rendered around May 5, 2009.




Modeled: Blender 2.49
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Early version of a Salt Lake Temple model by Brian Olson. Rendered July 10, 2007. I was playing with Sunset and overcast clouds.




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Salt Lake Temple Wiki



The Salt Lake Temple is a temple located on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. At 253,015 square feet (23,505.9 m2), it is the largest LDS temple by floor area. Dedicated in 1893, it is the sixth temple completed by the church, requiring 40 years to complete, and the fourth temple built since the exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846.[1]


Construction Summary


The location for the temple was first marked by Mormon prophet Brigham Young, the second president of the church, on July 28, 1847, just four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1901 the apostle Anthon H. Lund recorded in his journal that “it is said” that Oliver Cowdery’s divining rod was used to locate the temple site.[2]

Site Dedication

The temple site was dedicated on February 14, 1853 by Heber C. Kimball.


Groundbreaking ceremonies were presided over by Young, who laid the cornerstone on April 6 of that year.[3]

The architect was Truman O. Angell, and the temple features both Gothic and Romanesque elements.


Sandstone was originally used for the foundation. During the Utah War, the foundation was buried and the lot made to look like a plowed field to prevent unwanted attention from federal troops. After tensions had eased in 1858 and work on the temple resumed, it was discovered that many of the foundation stones had cracked, making them unsuitable for use. Although not all of the sandstone was replaced, the inadequate sandstone was replaced. The walls are quartz monzonite (which has the appearance of granite) from Little Cottonwood Canyon, located twenty miles (32 km) southeast of the temple site. Oxen transported the quarried rock initially, but as the Transcontinental Railroad neared completion in 1869 the remaining stones were carried by rail at a much faster rate.[3]


The capstone—the granite sphere that holds the statue of the Angel Moroni—was laid on April 6, 1892, by means of an electric motor and switch operated by Wilford Woodruff, the church’s fourth president, thus completing work on the temple’s exterior. The Angel Moroni statue, standing 12.5 feet (3.8 m) tall, was placed on top of the capstone later the same day.[4]

At the capstone ceremony it was proposed by Woodruff that the interior of the building be finished within one year, thus allowing the temple to be dedicated forty years to the day of its commencement. John R. Winder was instrumental in overseeing the completion of the interior on schedule; he would serve as a member of the temple presidency until his death in 1910.

Construction Extended Detail

Most of the details in this section are taken from “History of the Salt Lake Temple,” a thesis by William Alan Raynor.


Jesse Carter Little kept a diary of the Journey the pioneers made across the plains. Using a sextant and a compass he cataloged latitude and longitude, place names and miles for the entire trek westward. On the Day the pioneers entered the valley, 24 July 1847, his diary contains one entry. It reads, in part:

“….Northern boundary of the Temple Square 40 Degrees latitude and 11 degrees longitude.[5]

Tradition holds that 4 days after the arrival, 28 July 1847, Brigham Young walked to a section of land located between two creeks in the heart of the valley while in the company of Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, and many others.  Brigham placed his cane into the ground,[6] then, waving his hand around him said

“Here is the forty acres for the temple. The city can be laid out perfectly square north and south east and west.”

The motion was then made and carried to set aside 40 acres for the building of the temple, and the motion accepted.[7]

Wilford Woodruff drove a wooden stake into the hole left by Brigham Young’s cane to mark the location of the temple. [7] Days later, as the city was being planned, and after much discussion, the decision was made to reduce the number of acres to 10, as it was felt 40 was unnecessary.[8]

On 23 December of 1847, the Church circulated a letter calling for contributions of precious metals and other materials in preparation for building the temple.[9]


Truman O. Angell Sr. was named as architect of the Church’s public works department (and consequently became temple architect as well) on 26 May 1850.[10][11]


On 22 February the Red Butte Railroad Company was formed. The purpose of this railroad was to build a track to the red butte quarry. Carts would be towed up this track by ox teams, then the loaded carts would be coasted back down the track with a brakeman on board to slow the cart when it reached temple square.[12]

At the April conference in 1851, a motion was made to build the temple, and was carried with acclamation. Daniel H Wells was then appointed to be construction supervisor.[7][13] Additionally the announcement was made about the coming Red Butte Railroad, and plans to have it assist in the construction of the temple:

“A railroad has been chartered to extend from the Temple Block in this city to the stone quarry and mountain on the east, for the conveyance of building materials; the construction to commence immediately.” [14]

By the last day of April, construction had begun on the Red Butte Rail line.[15]


Shortly after the start of 1852, the decision was made to make the Red Butte Rail line a graded road and use broad tire wagons to hall the lumber and stone instead.

In the April Conference Truman O. Angell, already the architect of the Church’s public works department, was sustained as the official architect of the Church.[16]

On 3 August 1852 men were put to work building the 14 foot sandstone walls that surround temple square. [17] [18]

At the October General Conference, The a vote was put forward as to the material the temple should be constructed from, sandstone, adobe, or the best local stone. The vote was for the best local stone and the Presidency was charged with determining where the stone other materials should be obtained from.[19]


Construction officially began on 14 February 1853. Jesse W. Fox surveyed the site, and then Brigham Young spoke, talking about the need for temples, and how it was not needed that every portion of a temple be dictated by revelation. He put forth that as we know what needs to go into a house of dwelling, so those who had received the ordinances in the previous temple knew what needed to go into this one. He then proposed that:

“In a few days I shall be able to give a plan on paper and, then if heaven or any good man on earth, will suggest any improvements, we will receive them and adopt them.[20]

Music and a Song were then performed, after which Heber C. Kimball offered a dedicatory prayer on the grounds. Then, preceding to the South East Corner of the site, one square foot of Eart was loosened, and Brigham Young cast aside the first shovel of dirt.[20]

According to the account in the Deseret News Weekly, after the loosening of the dirt, and prior to the first shovelful being moved a silver dollar fell onto the loosened soil, and no one new where it came from. President Kimball prophesied that it was a sign that means to build the temple would not be wanted.[20]

Though some of the crowd returned to their homes shortly after the groundbreaking, many people stayed and commenced the work of preparing to lay the foundation.

Wilford Woodruff was appointed Superintendent of the foundation digging on 21 February.[21]

Cornerstone Ceremony

On 6 April of 1853, in conjunction with General Conference and the 23rd anniversary of the Church, the cornerstone ceremony was held for the Salt Lake Temple. Firestone sandstone quarried from Red Butte Canyon had been brought to the site for use as the Cornerstones and foundation of the new temple.[11] After convening General conference in the first tabernacle built on Temple Square a procession of bands and the First Presidency conducted the crowd tot he South East Corner, where the First Presidency and Church Patriarch laid the first cornerstone. The Presiding Bishopric representing the lesser priesthood than laid the South west corner, followed by the Presidency of the High priests, the High Council and the Stake Presidency laying the North west corner, and the Twelve apostles with representatives of the seventies and elders laying the North West Corner in the pattern taught by Joseph Smith on the other temples. [11]

When conference reconvened,  Brigham Young taught the following:

“I scarcely ever say much about revelations, or visions, but suffice it to say, five years ago last July [1847] I was here, and saw in the Spirit the Temple not ten feet from where we have laid the Chief Corner Stone. I have not inquired what kind of a Temple we should build. Why? Because it was represented before me. I have never looked upon that ground, but the vision of it was there. I see it as plainly as if it was in reality before me. Wait until it is done. I will say, however, that it will have six towers, to begin with, instead of one. Now do not any of you apostatize because it will have six towers, and Joseph only built one. It is easier for us to build sixteen, than it was for him to build one. The time will come when there will be one in the centre of Temples we shall build, and on the top, groves and fish ponds. But we shall not see them here, at present.”[22]


By 17 June 1853 the Red Butte road was completed and the work of hauling rock and lumber for the temple was begun.[23]


On 1 February the Legislative assembly granted rights to Brigham Young, Isaac Chase, and Feramorz Little to build a canal from Big Cottonwood Canyon to Salt Lake City. The purpose of this proposed canal would have been to float granite from the area of the canyons closer to Salt Lake, with any Surplus used for irrigation. and the hope was the Canal would be ready by summer of 1856.[24]

William Ward, a stone-cutter who had some architectural training was asked to be Truman O’ Angel’s assistant on 9 March.[25] William Ward would later relate the following:

“Brigham Young drew upon a slate in the architect’s office a sketch, and said to Truman O. Angell: ‘There will be three towers on the east, representing the President and his two counselors; also three similar towers on the west representing the Presiding Bishop and his two counselors; the towers on the east the Melchisedek priesthood, those on the west the Aaronic preisthood. The center towers will be higher than those on the sides, and the west towers a little lower than those on the east end. The body of the building will be between these.’”[26]

Truman Angel, having been a skilled Carpenter who had worked as a wood Joiner on both the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples took up the task of developing the general design of parts of the temple, and Ward, having been trained in architecture in England and was skilled in Stone construction, took Angell’s designs and drew detailed plans for each course of stone. By 28 April of the same year they had completed plans for the foundation and portions of the temple basement, and Brigham Young had approved those plans.[11]

Not long after completion of these initial plans Brigham Young Called Truman Angell to a mission to study architecture in Europe, setting him apart as a missionary prior to his departure:

“You shall have power and means to go from place to place, from country to country, and view the various specimens of architecture that you may desire to see, and you will wonder at the works of the Ancients and marvel to see what they have done: and you will be quick to comprehend the architectural designs of men in various ages, and you will rejoice all the time, and take drafts of valuable works of architecture, and be better qualified to continue your work and you will increase in knowledge upon the Temple and other buildings and many will wonder at the knowledge you possess.”[27]

The foundation of Sandstone was completed to a height of 8 feet by the end of June, and work commenced on the inverted arches that would hold and redistribute the immense weight of the granite walls above them. The firestone sandstone foundation was 16 feet wide at the base, and tapered in 3 feet on each side, inside and out, till the walls reached a height of 7.5 feet. The stone was rough, fitted stones in a lime based mortar. It is estimated that the footer up to the eight foot mark where the basement commenced was 101,056 cubic feet, weighing about 14,956,288 lbs (7,478 tons.) This is estimated to be 33% more stone than was used to build the entire Nauvoo Temple.

A drought throughout the summer had caused men to be pulled from other projects, including the quarry, to work on the Cottonwood to Salt Lake Canal, and by August of 1855 larg sections had already been completed.

Work on the temple virtually ceased in the fall of 1856 due to a poor harvest and lack of supplies to support workers. Physical work on the temple would not commence to any large scale again until spring of 1857.


On 13 June water was turned into the first section of the Cottonwood to Salt Lake Canal for irrigation purposes.

Truman Angel arrived in England on 13 July 1856, where he spent several months before moving to France. He visited many historical and architecturally significant structures.


Truman received a letter from Brigham Young on 27 January 1857 asking him to return home, as his help was need for the temple. Upon his return he found that his assistant William Ward had quit his position and moved to St. Louis, leaving the work needing to be done to pile up on Truman Angell’s desk.[7]

The Wall around the Temple square, a low priority to this point, was completed on 23 May. The finished wall comprised 3 feet of red sandstone, followed by 10 feet of adobe bricks, with a sandstone coping one feet in height. The wall was hen dressed in cement, and completely enclosed the block except for central openings on each side.[7]

On 18 June Edward Parry laid the first stone of the basement story in the Northwest corner of the temple. It was reported:

“All along the foundation walls huge stones, averaging about two tons in weight, were strewn in readiness for being placed in their positions, while numerous stonecutters were busily occupied in shaping the rude blocks from the quarry.”[28]

On 24 July word was received that almost 1/6 of the United States regular Army was enroute to Utah, and plans were made to defend the territory. Many projects were abandoned at this time, including temple construction and work on the Cottonwood to Salt Lake Canal as preparations were made against the coming of the army.


Brigham Young issued instructions to hide the temple and the work related.  To this point, 6 temples had been planned. Adam-Ondi-Ahman and Independence were never begun, Far West only proceeded as far as the cornerstones. Kirtland And Nauvoo were completed, but Kirtland had been abandoned and desecrated, while Nauvoo had been abandoned and finally destroyed completely just 2 years earlier. Now the Salt Lake Temple, as far as the foundation, was apparently threatened.

But in April there was still a feeling of hope:

“The President remarked to Brother Smith, ‘I do not feel the least gloom over the city, nor have not felt but what we shall remain here and finish the temple.’ “[29]

By 6 May the entirety of the temple construction, including tools and plans had been cached in the footings trenches, covered with dirt, and plowed over. When the army passed through the center of the city on 26 June they found the city empty, and a walled off plowed field in the city center.

On 30 June, Brigham Young declared his satisfaction with the Army’s conduct and declared from his temporary headquarters in Provo Utah that all who wished to retern were now at liberty to do so.

Ironically, though the coming of the army, while halting construction of the temple, made temple construction financially easier for a time. William Clayton wrote to George Q. Cannon in England the following:

The Great Buchanan Expedition, cost the Government millions, and accomplished nothing, except making many of the saints comparatively rich, and improving the circumstances of most of the people of Utah.”[30]


In Late spring of 1860 work commenced on a public road to run from Salt Lake City to Little Cottonwood canyon in preparation for moving Granite to the temple site.[31] First contract to haul stone from Little Cottonwood is given to John Sharp that spring as well.[32] Multiple teams were used, keeping about a 1 mile distance between traveling teams while two smaller units would travel the road keeping it in repair and repairing equipment.[12] In addition to this contract set of teams wards were appealed to to hall loads as well. Quotas were determined based upon ward size and distance from Salt Lake.[33]

By the summer of 1860 work had cautiously commenced on exhuming the foundations of the temple. As the excavation progressed cracks were discovered in the Firestone foundation. Concerned that such a foundation could not support the weight of the temple, Brigham dismissed the workers for and resolved not to be removed from the site until he knew what was to be done. In a discussion with Bishop Archibald Gardner, the decision was made to start over, using less mortar to prevent cracking and spreading.[34] It would later be determined that the firestone sandstone, which was used in many buildings around Salt Lake and not just the temple footings, was very pourus, allowing water to seep into the stone and then freeze. This would in turn cause cracking and fracturing.[]


On 12-13 April The Civil War starts with the attack on Fort Sumter.


An announcement was made by Brigham Young on 2 March of 1862 that the Cottonwood Canal Project was canceled:

“We have learned some things in relation to the nature of the soil in which the bed of the canal is made that we did not know before. We pretty much completed that canal, or, in other words, we hewed out that cistern, but, behold, it would not hold water.”[35]

One of the individuals who worked on the canal, W. C. A. Smoot would later give the following explanation about the failure of the canal:

“When the water… reached the point on the side of the mountain round which it passed Parley’s Canyon, the soil was of such a nature that the fluid sank nearly as rapidly as it entered… and the water seeping down as it did in quantity from the hillside, threatened with destruction the newly established woolen mill a short distance below…”[36]

In the summer of 1862 work finished up on replacing the broken portions of the foundation, and the process of placing carefully cut and numbered block for the walls of the temple then began.[37]

On 8 July 1862 brought the Morrill Anti-Bigamy act, passed by the senate and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln, which directly targeted the Church’s practice of polygamy and the Church’s influence in Utah Politics. The act had no funding behind it, and Lincoln made no effort to uphold it. Lincoln later made comments that made it clear he had every intention of leaving the church alone so far as they made no effort to get involved in the Civil War.[38]


On 21 August a meeting was held to propose another canal for transporting block. This one would go from the Jordan River near the point of the mountain and would intersect the original canal.[39]

31 August  Bishop John Sharp was instructed by Brigham Young to start laying the walls of the temple by contract.[40]  Prior to this, temple work had been done by tithes of time by wards and individual members. The contract to lay the stones for the basement was 20 cents per foot. At this point, 50 to 80 stonecutters were squaring and shaping stone directly on the temple grounds for the walls, and a much smaller crew of masons could easily keep up with placing the cut block on the walls. Work proceeded as fast as stone could be brought to the temple block.[41]

On 2 November a survey for the new Jordan River canal was completed and plans were made to start the new canal with the express purpose of moving stone for the temple. (It does not appear this canal was actually begun, however.)[42] 24 days later another public meeting was held by a private company, this time proposing 3 separate canals.[43]


By January of 1865 it was apparent that residents were against new canal plans, wanting to neither share the water nor a portion of the expenses through taxes. The state governor, Charles Durkee, sharing many concerns of the residents in addition to being concerned about monopolies and mis-management, vetoed the bill that would have allowed for the canal.[44]

On February 4 a new plan was put forward for a single canal 32.25 miles in length, the first 12 mile portion running from Little Cottonwood to Salt Lake City and built by the newly formed Deseret Irrigation and Navigation Canal Company. Most of the new canal would be funded by land sales, and taxes on benefited properties, rather than taxes on large sections of the county as a whole. The Canal was begun shortly afterward, with the hope that 4,000 tons of stone would be transported tot he temple along this canal annually.[45][46][47]


By May 27 the west end of the temple was nearing ground level, making the height of the walls down to the bottom of the foundation about 16 feet. [48]

Later in 1866 A finished road was pushed through from Little cottonwood canyon to Salt Lake by the New York and Utah Prospecting Company.[49]


Fourteen years after the groundbreaking the walls of the temple finally rise above ground level.


Heber C. Kimball prophesies before his death on 22 June that

“when the walls reached the square, the powers of evil would rage and the Saints would suffer persecution.” [50]

Note: to reach the square in this instance refers to reaching the highest point of the non-tower portion of the temple.


The transcontinental railroad is completed on the 10 of May with the driving of the gold spike at Promontory summit Utah, 32 miles west-northwest of Brigham City. One week after the completion of the railroad thoughts turned to completing a line down the Wasatch front into Utah Valley. A rail line was begun on 17 May heading south from Ogden towards Salt Lake.[51]


By January 5 the Deseret Canal was nearing completion and there was hope that it would be open by the following spring.[52] However, the rail was also pushing its way through to Salt Lake and the line from Ogden to Salt Lake was completed just days later on10 January.[51] Also at This time mines in the Alt area above the Little Cottonwood granite quarry were begining to pay off and the Mining companies began raising money for a good double track rail from the the mouth of Canyon to the Alta Mine area.[53]

On February 15 the Utah Southern Railroad was incorporated[51] and within a year granted right of way to construct a line through to Payson Utah, with a branch line to the mouths of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.[54] This announcement effectively ended any plans for a Canal to ferry stone for the temple, or any plans to use canals for any purpose other than irrigation within Utah.

Ground was broken for the first Utah Southern Rail extension on 1 May. By August the first 20 miles were graded.[55] The track was laid and completed as far south as Sandy Utah 23 September 1871.[56] Stone was carried by oxcart to the Sandy Station at this point, and then carried by rail to downtown, where it would then be oxcarted up to the temple block half a mile away.


31 January Brigham Young announces the St. George Temple. Ground is Broken for the St. George Temple on 9 November 1871 by George Albert Smith.


Brigham Young and others organized the Salt Lake City Railroad Company on 19 January. The purpose of this company was to construct and manage rail lines from the Utah Central depot in Salt Lake to the temple block, a distance of one half a mile. The first section of track was completed and tested by coasting a single car down South Temple street in June of the same year.[57]

July 9 marked the start of a spur from South Temple into the Temple block enclosure so that stone could be delivered directly to the masons.[58]

The first stone delivered via the rail arrived in the temple enclosure on 31 July, pulled on rail cart by 2 oxen.[59]

Permission was granted for a heavier rail line to be buil along the round on 13 August.[60] The new line had thicker rails, and when completed on 21 August it allowed the stone to be moved by locomotive rather than oxcart.[61] This rail spur would be used to haul all the remaining Granite to Temple square till the completion of the temple.

As the Utah Southern Railroad was focusing primarily on the push to Payson, a new corporation, the Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad was incorporated on 14 October. The largest portion of stock in this company was held by the Cottonwood Mining Companies, a result of the previous years fund raising efforts.[62] This corporation was able to break ground n 4 November for a new line of narrower gauge track from the Sandy Station.[63]


The first temple stone road the completed rail line on 4 April 1873. Brigham Young traveled to the quarry by train on a flat car up to the Cottonwood Quarry and accompanied the stone back to celebrate the event. The train left the quarry at 4PM, switched trains at the Sandy Station and arrived in Salt Lake at 5:15, just one hour and fifteen minutes later, compared to the 4 days that the ox carts had been taking to complete the trip.[64] In the first year of operation, the train would ship 8,706,000 pounds of stone from the quarry to Salt Lake.[65]

13 September marked the completion of 4 large derricks (Platforms with attached cranes) Initially placed outside of the temple, these cranes would be used to lift stones up onto the rising walls, each derrick covering 1/4th of the whole temple.[66]


The Manti Temple is announced 25 June by Brigham Young.

The walls of the Salt Lake Temple reach nearly 18 feet in height.


During 1876 five large sheds were built between the south wall of Temple Square and the railroad spur on the block. These open wall sheds protected the stone-cutters from inclement weather.finished stones were stacked according to placement on the temple, while the granite chips were raked up and utilized for projects like paving the city streets.[7]

By September of 1876 the four construction derricks had been moved inside the walls of the temple near the corner towers, allowing it to better reach the areas it was responsible for. Additionally an 8 horsepower steam engine had replaced the hand cranking mechanism that turned the spools on the cranes, and lifting of the blocks proceeded at 3 times the original speed.[67] There was at this time only one steam engine hoisting apparatus, and it would be attached to one of the four derricks at a time while that derricks cranes laid 5 courses (rows) of stone, each just under 14 inches in height, on the temple section it covered. It would then be removed and attached to one of the other four derricks,[68] as in the following example:

  • 13 July, engine moved from northeast corner to northwest corner.[69]
  • 17 August, 5 courses completed at northwest corner, engine moved from northwest corner to southeast corner, to lay 5 courses on southeast corner.[70]
  • 27 September, 5 courses completed at southeast corner, engine moved from southeast corner to southwest corner.[71]

In this manner, 5 courses could be completed around the whole temple about once every 4 months barring any other issues blocking construction.

On 30 September The walls reached nearly 24 feet in height.[72]


Ground is broken for the Manti Temple 25 April by Brigham Young.

On 17 May The Logan Temple is announced by Brigham Young and ground is broken the same day by John W. Young. The Site was then dedicated by Daniel H. Wells.

The St. George Temple is dedicated 4 June – 4 August by Daniel H. Wells.

Brigham Young dies on 29 August 1877.


Walls of the temple are now 45 feet in height.


On 10 October 10 John Taylor was sustained as the third president of the Church


Walls of the temple reach 85 feet.


The Logan Temple is dedicated 17-19 May by John Taylor.


Around October the lifting engine from the recently completed Logan Temple is brought in. Rather than sharing one engine amongst all 4 derricks, one engine is shared by the east pair and one engine is shared by the west pair. [73]


The Battlements are placed on the temple, and the buttresses are topped out.

Truman Angel dies from dropsy on 16 October.


The Edmunds-Tucker act amended the Morrill law of 1862 on 19 February. This act dissolved the corporate charter of the LDS Church, re-affirmed abolishment of polygamy, confiscated all LDS Church property over $50,000 and turned it over to the Secretary of the Interior. In anticipation of the passage of this act, the Church had moved much of it’s property into privately held trusts and associations.[7]

On 7 February Frank H. Dyer, US Marchall for Utah, was appointed receiver of Church Properties.[74]Church properties were turned over to Dyer upon request, including the Temple block, and were then rented back to the Church. While some properties rented for more than $500, the Temple Block was rented for $1 monthly.

John Taylor died on 25 July 1887.

Fall of 1887 brought a halt to the temple work. All workers were discharged, partly as a consequence of the financial difficulties that resulted from the Governments actions.[7]


On 17 May the Manti Temple was dedicated by Lorenzo Snow.

The Church sought for confirmation of title for all properties and buildings surrendered from the Utah Supreme court, but all cliams were denied with the exception of the temple block, which was released on condition it be used exclusively for religious purposes.[75]


Willford Woodruf was sustained as the fourth President of the Church on 7 April 1889.

On 2 November Deseret News Reports a new crane system for hauling stones into place. In the new system a track made of a pair of I-beams allows 2 cranes capable of holding 2 tons each to move back and forth along the east /west length of the temple, placing block anywhere along its length.[76]

At the end of the annual construction season, 2 November of 1889, the walls reached 160 ft above ground.


In May the US Supreme court upheld the 1888 decision of the Utah Supreme court.[7]

25 September 1890 Brought the official declaration ending polygamy. It would be another 5 years before all properties were returned back to the Church.[77]


In the October Conference of 1891 a resolution was passed that the temple be completed and dedicated by the April Conference of 1893.[78]


The capstone—the granite sphere that holds the statue of the Angel Moroni—was laid on 6 April 1892.[79]

  60,000 people assembled around the temple, Instructions were given to the assembled and at 11:30 the Priesthood marched to a platform erected at the Southwest corner. A Band played a sont titled the “Capstone March,” followed by the “Temple Antehm by the Tabernacle Choir. President Joseph F. Smith offered a dedicatory prayer, and the choir sang “Grant Us Peace.” As noon arrived, President Wilford stepped to the platform and proclaimed:

“Attention all ye house of Isreal, and all ye nations of the Earth! We will now lay the top stone to the Temple of our God, the foundation of which was laid by the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, Brigham Young.[80]

Then with the press of a button, an electric motor lowered the capstone into place. 60,000 people then participated in the Hosanna shout, and the congregation sang “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.” The Union Glee Club then sang “The Temple Ode.”

Francis M. Lyman of the twelve Apostles then proposed that, believing the President’s council to be the word of the lord, the assemblage pledge themselves individually and collectively to finish the interior of the building within one year, thus allowing the temple to be dedicated forty years to the day of its commencement. The Tabernacle Choir then sang “Song of the Redeemed.” and George Q. Cannon gave the Benediction.

The angel Moroni Statue was placed on the top of the capstone after the ceremonies, and was unveiled at 3:10 PM.[80]

On 1 May work commenced on the Temple annex, 100 feet north of the temple. The annex was finnished in oolite limestone like the Manti Temple and was designed by Don Carlos Young.[81]

During the following year, every effort was made to obtain the materials needed to finish the temple. A steam boiler plant was constructed north of the temple and steam was fed to 4 generators underground and west of the temple which provided enough power to light not just the temple, but planned electric lighting at the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall as well.


The Temple and the Annex were finished on 5 April 1893.


April 6 dawned cloudy and stormy, and winds approached Hurricane force as the General Authorities entered the temple through the Southwest Doors to dedicate the temple. A selected choir sang “Let Isreal Join and Sing.” President Woodruff then dedicated the temple, exactly forty years after the cornerstone was laid,[] and one year after the capstone was placed. The Choir then gave the Hosannah shout and the Choir sang the Hosanna Anthem. Then the Choir and congregation sand “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.” President Woodruf then spake, followed by Joseph F. Smith. The Choir sang “Arise ye Saints,” and Elder Lorenzo Snow gave the Benediction. Sessions were held for all the surrounding stakes, with the closing thirty first session being the last held on April 24. 82,000 people attended all 31 sessions.[82][83][84][12]

Dedicatory Count

There were 3 other temples in use when the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated, The St. George Utah, Logan Utah, and Manti Utah Temples.


Around 1938 excavation began between the annex and the temple. The underground tunnel connecting the annex to the temple was expanded to the west, adding significantly to the square footage of the temple. The east end of the above ground portions of the annex were expanded to the North and South adding administrative spaces. A new annex entrance was added to the east end in front of the original annex


Around 1950 the temple annex was expanded again, this time adding space to the north of the annex entrance. The garden room annex was removed from the temple around this time.


In 1962, after the completion of the North Visitors center of the temple, the annex for the temple was d3emolished. The North visitors center would temporarily function as a temple annex as the entire area immediately around the temple was excavated. An are to the South of the temple would become a tunnel connecting the temple and the tabernacle to the new administrative complex to the east of temple square. The area to the east and north of the temple, all the way to the streets to the east and north, were added to the underground portions of the temple. A new annex and temple entry was built above ground on the far north edge of the temple square. An addition was added directly to the temple itself to house additional sealing rooms.

1962 temple bombing

On November 14, 1962, at about 1:30 AM, the southeast door of the Salt Lake Temple was bombed.[85]

 FBI agents state that the explosive had been wrapped around the door handles on the southeast entrance of the temple.[85] The large wooden entrance doors were damaged by flying fragments of metal and glass. Damage to interior walls occurred 25 feet inside the temple, but damage to the interior was minor.[85] Eleven exterior windows were shattered.[85] Some members of the LDS Church believed the incident was related to violence surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, the nation’s racial strife,[86] and the church’s priesthood restriction, based on race, in effect at the time.


Before the Church administration Building across the street coul be finished, the temple was again expanded, this time on the new annex, to the east side, to add a larger entryway and waiting area.


Entryway on the annex is expanded and remodeled again. The project was designed by FFKR Architects and Planners II.[87]

Myths and Stories


There is a story circulated that Brigham young demanded large rectangular shafts be left open and empty in the Salt Lake Temple, and until the elevator was invented no one knew why. The exact details of the story change depending on who told it to you and where they heard it form, but all these stories boil down to a single premise: elevators became available after the Salt Lake Temple was designed but President Brigham young was inspired to plan for them anyway.

This story is a myth, and persists mainly due to a lack of knowledge in relation to elevators.

  • Elevators in some form existed back to the 1700’s.
  • The Otis Elevator company was founded in 1853,  making the first commercial elevators the same year ground was broken for the temple.
  • The Otis Elevator Company actually made the first Elevators for the temple while the temple was under construction. The Church archives have the bid, dated 1889.
  • The Salt Lake Temple plans are some of the earliest known plans to feature a clearly labeled Elevator shaft.
  • Truman Angel studied buildings in Europe that had elevators.


“The Salt Lake Temple Infrastructure: Studying it Out in Their Minds” by Paul C. Richards

“Debunking the Salt Lake Temple Elevator Myth,”


President Blaine J. Wixom Jr.2017–
President Cecil O. Samuelson2014–2017
President O. Claron Alldredge Jr.2011–2014
President Sheldon F. Child2008–2011
President M. Richard Walker2005–2008
President L. Aldin Porter2002–2005
President Derrill H. Richards1999–1999
President W. Eugene Hansen1999–2002
President Carlos E. Asay1996–1999
President George I. Cannon1993–1996
President Spencer H. Osborn1990–1993
President Edgar M. Denny1987–1990
President Victor L. Brown1985–1987
President Marion D. Hanks1982–1985
President A. Ray Curtis1977–1982
President John K. Edmunds1972–1977
President O. Leslie Stone1968–1972
President Howard S. McDonald1964–1968
President Willard E. Smith1961–1964
President ElRay L. Christiansen1953–1961
President Robert D. Young1949–1953
President Joseph Fielding Smith1945–1949
President Stephen L. Chipman1938–1945
President George F. Richards1921–1938
President Anthon H. Lund1911–1921
President Joseph F. Smith1898–1911
President Lorenzo Snow1893–1898


The Salt Lake Temple is the centerpiece of the 10-acre (4.0 ha) Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. Like other LDS temples, it is considered sacred by the church and its members and a temple recommend is required to enter, so there are no public tours inside the temple as there are for other adjacent buildings on Temple Square. In 1912, the first public photographs of the interior were published in the book The House of the Lord, by James E. Talmage.[88]

 Since then, various photographs have been published, including by Life magazine in 1938. [89][90]

 The temple grounds are open to the public and are a popular tourist attraction.

 Due to its location at LDS Church headquarters and its historical significance, the Temple is patronized by Latter-day Saints from many parts of the world. The Salt Lake Temple is also the location of the weekly meetings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.[91]

[89] As such, there are special meeting rooms in the building for these purposes, including the Holy of Holies, which are not present in other temples.

The official name of the Salt Lake Temple is also unique. In 1999, as the building of LDS temples accelerated, the church announced a formal naming convention for all existing and future temples. For temples located in the United States and Canada, the name of the temple is generally the city or town in which the temple is located, followed by the name of the applicable state or province (with no comma). For temples outside of the U.S. and Canada, the name of the temple is generally the city name (as above) followed by the name of the country. However, for reasons on which the church did not elaborate, the Salt Lake Temple was made an exception to the new guidelines and was not renamed the “Salt Lake City Utah Temple”.[92]

 (The Provo City Center Temple is the only other temple that does not include a state, province, or country in the temple’s name.)[93]

The temple also includes some elements thought to evoke Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem. It is oriented eastward and the large basin used as a baptismal font is mounted on the backs of twelve oxen, as was the Molten Sea in Solomon’s Temple (see Chronicles 4:2–4). (However, the literal interpretation of the Biblical verses has been disputed.)[94]

The temple is located in downtown Salt Lake City, with several mountain peaks close by. Nearby, a shallow stream, City Creek, splits and flows both to the west and to the south, flowing into the Jordan River. There is a wall around the 10-acre (4.0 ha) temple site. The surrounding wall became the first permanent structure on what has become known as Temple Square. The wall is a uniform 15 feet high but varies in appearance because of the southwest slope of the site.[95]

Physical Address

50 W. North Temple St., Salt Lake City, UT 84150



The exterior walls of the Salt Lake Temple are  solid granite.


The windows on the salt lake temple are plain glass. Windows are either rectangle with a  rounded top, or fully oval


The Salt Lake Temple incorporates many symbolic adornments, similar to other temples around the world. Symbolism is an important subject in the LDS faith.[96]

  • All-Seeing Eye – The center tower on each side contains a depiction of the All-Seeing Eye of God representing how God sees all things.[]
  • Angel Statue – The golden Angel Moroni placed on the capstone of the temple symbolizes the angel mentioned in Revelation 14:6 that will come to welcome in the Second Coming of Christ. Early architectural plans showed two horizontally flying angels[97][98][99]

and the earliest references to the Salt Lake Temple’s angel were always Gabriel. The original blueprint drawings intended the angel to be wearing temple ceremonial clothing like the angel on the Nauvoo temple, but the 12.5-foot statue wears a crown instead of a temple cap that was originally built with a bright light creating a halo effect at night.[100]
Beehive – The beehive symbol (which appears on the Utah state seal) appears on external doors and doorknobs and symbolizes the thrift, industry, perseverance, and order of the Mormon people.[101][102]

Big Dipper – On the west side of the temple the Big Dipper appears, which represents how the priesthood can help people find their way to heaven as the constellation helped travelers find the North Star.[103] [102] The uppermost stars on the temple’s constellation align with the actual North Star. [104]

Clasped Hands – Above each external door and doorknob appears the “hand clasp,” which is a representation of covenants that are made within temples or brotherly love.[102]

Clouds – On the east side of the temple are “clouds raining down” representing the way God has continued revelation and still speaks to man “like the rains out of Heaven” or alternatively a veil of ignorance or sin.[102] There are only two cloud stones on the temple. They are located on the east center tower

Early Symbolism Ideas for the temple

The following symbolism had at one time been suggested for use on the temple, going so far as to have been included in drawings for the temple, but was ultimately not used.

  • Saturns – Early drawings and a written description by Angell showed Saturnstones along the top tier of the temple,[14][105] though the design was changed years later.[104][102] but the plans were changed during construction.[102] These symbols had appeared on the Nauvoo Temple weathervane.[102]
  • Faces in the sunstones. Early depictions of the temple show faces in each of the sunstones, similar to the Nauvoo Temple sunstones
  • Earth Hemispheres in the earthstones.


Each window on the Salt Lake Temple has a keystone above it. A keystone is the last stone placed in an arch before the construction supports are removed. It locks the archi n place and distributes the weight of the stone above evenly down either side of the arch.

Star Stones

Just above the cornice of the temple are five-point star stones. The eastern towers have 40 star stones. These number 12 on the central towers. They are also found on the majority of keystones. The five-pointed star with an elongated downward ray found on several LDS temples has been interpreted to represent Christ coming to Earth.[106] In the representation of the Big Dipper on the west tower, the stars are represented by six pointed stars.

Sun Stones

Near the top of each buttress on the temple are the sun stones, with 52 points per face, to represent the sun’s rays. These stones were patterned after the Nauvoo Temple’s sun stones. These stones also represent the highest degree of glory, the celestial kingdom is LDS theology

Moon Stones

These are found about half way up each of the buttresses of the temple in all its different phases. Drawings by the temple’s architect, Truman O. Angell, show that the stones are based on all phases of the moon during the year 1878. There were 13 new moons, 13 first quarters, 12 full moons and 12 last quarters during that year. Midway along the north wall of the temple is the first quarter of the moon, based on January 1878. Going clockwise and the moon’s phases for that year continue in sequence. The moon also represents the middle degree of glory, the terrestrial kingdom in LDS scripture.[102][107]

Earth Stones

These are found at the base of each of the temples 36 buttress. The 36 stones are believed to symbolize the spreading of the gospel throughout the world. They also represent the telestial kingdom, the lowest of the three degrees of heavenly glory in LDS beliefs


There is one inscription on the Salt Lake Temple. Unlike inscriptions on other temples, the Salt Lake Temple inscription is highly decorative and Lists not just the typical inscription, but the name of the church and dates of construction for the temple. The inscription is engraved on a sandstone panel near the top of the east center tower. The letters are gilded. The inscription was carvedc by the Temple’s Master Stone Mason, John Rowe Moyle.

An additional inscription is found on the salt lake temple. Near the  windows of the east and west towers are keystones, inscribed with “I Am Alpha and Omega” Like the Primary inscription, both of these are engraved into the stone and gilded. Unlike the primary inscription the text has been engraved in a portion of stone that has been carved to look like a scroll on wood rollers.



The cornerstones on the Salt Lake Temple were placed to commence the construction of the temple On 6 April of 1853. Unlike on modern day temples, where they are visible from the outside of the temple, the Salt Lake Temple cornerstones are part of the foundation of the temple.

Spires and Moroni


The six spires of the temple represent the power of the priesthood. The three spires on the east side are a little higher than those on the west: they represent the Melchizedek, or “higher priesthood”, and the Aaronic, or “preparatory priesthood” respectively. The three spires on the east side represent the church’s First Presidency and the twelve smaller spires on those three represent the Twelve Apostles.[108]Arave, Lynn (November 27, 2008). “Symbolism Can Be Seen in Architecture of S.L. Temple”. Mormon Times. LDS Church. Deseret News. Retrieved July 10, 2017.



The Angel Moroni Statue on the Salt Lake Temple was the first Statue placed atop any temple. The statue, and subsequently the idea of the Angel Moroni as a herald of the Restoration, Was sculpted by Cyrus Dallin. The statue is 12.5′ tall and faces east from the center east, and tallest, spire of the temple. The statue, a capstone, and a small time capsule in the capstone, were placed on 6 April 1892, officially completing the exterior of the temple.


The interior of the temple features many rooms for presenting instruction and giving sacred ordinances. In the basement is a baptistry, modeled on the traditional view of the brazen sea of the Temple of Solomon. The large font for performing baptisms rests on the back of twelve life size sculptures of oxen, cast in wrought iron.

Further up the temple you will come to the Endowment rooms. The four rooms are placed so that you must climb a little as you progress from one to another, to convey the idea of progression upwards. There are four endowment rooms, and an individual will pass through each one as they make their way through the endowment ceremony.The walls of all the Endowment rooms are covered in murals that illustrate the room’s purpose and tell the story of human progress from our pre-mortal existence as spirit children of God to mortal beings who are trying to find their way back to Him. Each wall in each room tells a story from a different period of life. Brigham Young actually sent artists to Paris to study painting so that they might produce the best possible murals for the temple. The first room tells the story of the creation, the second is the Garden of Eden. The third, known as the Telestial Room, is the world, dreary in comparison to the Eden, that greeted Adam and Eve when they were expelled from the Garden. The fourth room has no murals, but the walls are decorated with ornate trims and architectural features. This fourth room represents a lifted world, one better than the world we life in now.

Finally, progression through the rooms brings you to the Celestial Room, the finest and most ornately decorated room in this or any temple, as it represents coming back into the presence of God.

The temple has 14 sealing rooms for the preforming of marriages.

Contractors and Individuals

Architect  Truman O. Angell, Don Carlos Young
Project Manager
Daniel H. Wells
Member Constructed
Master Stone MasonJohn Rowe Moyle

 Sources and Links for the Salt Lake Temple

External links

  • (official)
  • (official)
  • Wikipedia

Additional Articles

Primary Sources

Most of the History through the dedication of the temple was written using the information and sources cited in the following articles. I have used the original source citations from these documents where possible:

Wallace Alan Raynor, “History of the Construction of the Salt Lake Temple”, August 1961. Accessed 23 September 2017

Richard O. Cowan, “The Design, Construction, and Role of the Salt Lake Temple, ” in Salt Lake City: The Place Which God Prepared, ed. Scott C. Esplin and Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2011), 47–68.

Marion D. Hanks “Salt Lake Temple History” Light Planet. Accessed 23 September 2017.


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