Vernal Utah Temple

Vernal Utah Temple

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Vernal Utah Temple Wiki


The Vernal Utah Temple is the fifty-first temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Located in Vernal it is the tenth LDS temple built in the state of Utah. The Vernal temple serves 36,000 Mormon members in 12 stakes in eastern Utah, western Colorado, and southwestern Wyoming.


Uintah Stake Tabernacle

Originally, the building served as the Uintah Stake Tabernacle for Latter-day Saints in eastern Utah. The Tabernacle’s foundation was constructed of nearby sandstone with walls built of four layers of fired brick from local clay. The building was built with considerable donated labor from the fall of 1899 until it was dedicated on August 24, 1907 by LDS Church president Joseph F. Smith. Smith said that he “would not be surprised if the day would come when a temple would be built in your midst here.”[1][2]

Relative to other LDS Tabernacles, Roger Jackson characterized the Uintah Stake Tabernacle as relatively modest, without the decorative details found on Tabernacles in central and northern Utah. Nonetheless, he wrote, “the building is the most prominent structure in Vernal and considered the finest building in all of eastern Utah.”

The tabernacle was superseded by an adjacent, more modern LDS stake center in 1948. Only used irregularly thereafter, the LDS Church announced the Tabernacle’s closing in 1984 for public safety reasons. Among other things, the Tabernacle lacked indoor bathrooms and access for the disabled.

A local “Save the Tabernacle” committee formed, and in 1989 a preservation study was prepared.


The announcement of the new temple came on 13 February 1994. That Sunday priesthood leaders in the Vernal Utah and Roosevelt Utah regions read a letter in sacrament meetings and at the Vernal Utah Glines Stake conference from the First Presidency announcing plans for the temple.In the letter, the First Presidency said that “after extensive study, we have concluded to use the shell of the building, restoring its original outside appearance, and creating within it, a beautiful temple.”[3]

During a five-day open house 29 April-2 May of 1994 over 18,000 people toured the tabernacle before it was closed for renovation to become the Vernal Utah Temple.[4][5]

All of the furniture and fixtures salvaged from the Uintah Stake Tabernacle were sold at public auction a year later on April 15, 1995. Everything available sold in 3½ hours.


A groundbreaking ceremony and sited dedication were held on 13 May 1995.[6] President of the Mormon Church, Gordon B. Hinckley presided at the meeting and gave the dedicatory prayer. Nearly 12,000 people gathered on the site for the ceremony. At that time President Hinckley said , “I don’t hesitate to tell you, on the basis of the architectural drawing, … that when [the temple] is completed and you have the opportunity of walking through it, you will feel touched by that which has been created out of this historic, dedicated, sacred structure.”[7]


Before altering the original building, the architectural firm took 400 photographs of the tabernacle for reference as they sought to preserve its structure and detail. During construction, the building was fortified against earthquakes and wind through modification and reinforcement of the interior wall structure.

The Reader Home, a turn-of-the-century residence in Vernal, became the source of thousands of needed bricks for the Vernal Utah Temple. Some of the salvaged brick was used in a gate on the west end of the temple, the historic entrance to the tabernacle. Some was used to replace cracked and chipped bricks on the temple facade. The owner of the home a friend of another faith who planned to raze the home, agreed to donate it to the church instead. For two months 1,128 volunteers donated 5,000 hours so that 16,000 bricks could be painstakingly removed from the home and brought to the temple. Crews replaced crumbling bricks on the temple’s exterior with similar brick from the donated home. From samples and markings on the brick it was determined that the brick from the home had come from the same clay pit and same kiln, the Abner N. Swain Brickworks, as the brick that the tabernacle had been built from.[8][9]

Recycle and re-use became a theme for the temple construction. The 12 sculpted oxen that bear the temple’s baptismal font on their backs were part of an exhibit in the South Visitors Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The oxen had been in storage since the visitors center was remodeled three years previously. Some of the benches from the old tabernacle were refurbished for use in the temple’s chapel. A stained-glass window on the east wall of the temple, depicting the Savior surrounded by a flock of sheep and holding a lamb, was made originally for the Mt. Olivet Methodist Episcopal Church of Hollywood, Calif., in the 1920s. The LDS Church bought the building in 1937 and used it as a meetinghouse until the early 1990s. The window had been in storage after the chapel was damaged by an earthquake in 1994 and was demolished. The window was placed in a space where the tabernacle originally had a window, high on the east side, but it had been bricked in. The brick was removed for placement of the stained-glass window. Artist Willie Littig created an 11-piece art-glass frame that complements the window and is consistent with art glass elsewhere in the temple.[9]

Each room inside the temple was designed to be slightly elevated from the last so that patrons physically ascend as they move through the temple. An east window opening that had been bricked over holds a beautiful piece of art glass depicting Christ holding one of many sheep. Over 20 different stencil painting patterns inside the temple were created by Daniel Peterson, who did the decorative painting inside Utah’s governor’s mansion and the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. Temple furnishings represent the style of the original building, and some pieces are reproductions of antique furniture used in the Salt Lake Temple.[10]

Open House

118,700 visited the temple during its two-week open house 11–25 October 1997.


Vernal Utah Temple
Vernal Utah Temple

Gordon B. Hinckley officially dedicated the Vernal Mormon temple on November 2-4, 1997 in 11 sessions over three days. In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley referred to the original building and the sacrifice of those who built it: “The original tabernacle came of a great spirit of faith and sacrifice on the part of those Saints who settled in this area. It was built as an offering unto Thee, and was held in the affections of the people long after it was used as a house of worship. Now that old and much-loved building has become the centerpiece of a new and beautiful House of the Lord. It has a quiet luster all its own.”

Dedicatory Prayer

Dedication Order

The Vernal Utah Temple is the fifty-first temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Located in Vernal it is the tenth LDS temple built in the state of Utah. 8 Temples were under construction at the time of the Vernal Utah Temple dedication, and 7 had been announced and were awaiting groundbreaking.

Under Construction Awaiting Groundbreaking Undergoing Renovation
Preston England Billings Montana
Bogota Colombia Boston Massachusetts
Madrid Spain Caracas Venezuela
Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Monterrey Mexico
Guayaquil Ecuador Nashville Tennessee
Cochabamba Bolivia White Plains New York (Harrison)
Recife Brazil


Temple President Years Served
President Norman S. Nielson 2017–
President David R. Labrum 2014–2017
President Lamont W. Moon 2011–2014
President Mac W. Holmes 2008–2011
President Norman G. Angus 2005–2008
President Howard G. Todd 2002–2005
President Dan J. Workman 1999–2002
President Alva C. Snow 1997–1999

Upon its dedication the Vernal Temple was unique as the only LDS temple built from a previously existing structure. The goal of such an undertaking was to preserve the efforts and history of the Mormon settlers of the Ashley Valley and bring a temple closer to Church members. At the temple groundbreaking, president Hinckley remarked upon the unique nature of the project, saying” “we’ve never done before and we are not likely to do again.”[11] Despite that pronouncement, since 1997 the Copenhagen Denmark, Manhattan New York, and Provo City Center temples have been similarly adapted from existing Church owned structures.


The 33,400-square-foot temple sits on 1.6 acres. it is 210 feet long by 175 feet wide.


The temple’s brick exterior reflects the popular architectural styles of Latter-day Saint design in the early 20th century as well as the modest design objectives of the tabernacle’s original architect.


The windows at the Vernal temple are plain glass, 4 panes per window, with the upper story windows being arched and the lower story being flat on top. The only exception is teh east end stained glass that is part of the celestial room.


An interesting feature of the Vernal Temple is the two round Granite plaques on the west end to either side of the west arch of the covered porch. On the original tabernacle these were cast stone or concrete circles, the left hand bearing  the number 19, and the right hand 01, both in raised letters.

19                               01

The year 1901 likely had reference to the year that the walls and roof were completed, as the groundbreaking was in 1900 and the dedication was in 1907.

The completed temple has replaced the cast stone with Granite circles, the left engraved with 1907, the year the tabernacle was dedicated, the right is engraved with 1997, the year the temple was dedicated.

1907                               1997


There are 2 inscriptions on the Vernal Utah Temple. The first is on the east end of the attic story of the original tabernacle. the layout of this inscription follows the pattern of the inscription of the temples built in the 1980’s having super and subscript type. It is carved into a granite plaque set into an arched window style opening and the letters are painted black. The plaque also has the name of the Church under the inscription



The second inscription is on a granite plaque set above the new east entryway to the temple annex. It is also engraved into the stone with the letters painted black. The engravings are set on a single line, with a flower engraved between the two phrases.



The cornerstone of the Vernal Utah Temple  is on the south east cornerr of the temple annex, facing east. Like the inscriptions it is a granite plaque with engraved latters painted black.


Spires and Moroni


Black domes made of copper crown the temple’s two white towers and are visible from Highway 191. A new east tower was added to the tabernacle, 18.5 feet in diameter and topping out 98feet off the ground. The west tower was removed and an identical replacement was constructed from aluminum and fiberglass. The west tower measures 16 feet in diameter and tops out at about 80 feet above the ground.[12] The original west tower was renovated into a gazebo and placed at the Ashley Valley Community Park. The cupola between the two towers was replaced with an aluminum and fiberglass reconstruction as well. [12][9]


A statue of the angel Moroni, a prophet from the Book of Mormon, faces east at the top of the East tower. It was placed on 26 September 1996. For safety reasons the Church refrains from announcing the date the angel will be placed on temples. Despite the lack of an announcement, an impromptu crowd of about 4,000 people gathered to watch the event.[12] In an experiment, the statue had originally been painted gold using gold automotive paint. After four months, however, it was decided that the statue appeared dark and brown on cloudy days, and it was removed and the paint replaced with the traditional finish of gold leaf. Since then the automotive paint idea has been used only once more, at the Reno Nevada Temple, where high winds and dust storms make gold leaf impractical.


Due to the narrowness of the building, a two-stage endowment room was innovated for the Vernal Utah Temple—a concept which has been used in many temples ever since. It has
two ordinance rooms arranged in a progressive style, and three sealing rooms.

– Furniture built in the style of the early 1900s, when the tabernacle was constructed.

– Walls in several rooms are hand-painted with decorative patterns appropriate to the area, such as sego lillies and wheat stocks.

– Original paintings by artists Valoy Eaton, David Ahrnsbrak, A.D. Shaw, Richard Murray and Chad Hawkins depict scenes in the area.

Individuals and Contractors

Architect FFKR Architects
Project Manager
Lloyd Hess
Contractor McCullough Engineering and Construction

Sources and Links

External links

Additional Articles


  1. [1] “Vernal Utah Temple Dedicated,” Ensign, Jan. 1998, 78.
  2. [2]Avant, Gerry (February 19, 1994). “‘Memorial to pioneering spirit’ to have new function as temple”. The Deseret News. p. 3. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  3. [3]“Shell of old tabernacle to house a new temple in eastern Utah,” Church News, Feb. 19, 1994
  4. [4]“Public can tour Vernal Tabernacle and temple-to-be,” Church News, April 23, 1994 .
  5. [5]“Tabernacle open house attracts 18,800 people in anticipation of temple,” Church News, May 7, 1994
  6. [6]“May ceremony to mark the beginning of Vernal temple construction,” Church News, Published: Saturday, April 15, 1995 .
  7. [7] Kathi Irving, “Construction Begins on Vernal Utah Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1995, 75.
  8. [8]Kathleen M. Irving, “Crews Salvage Bricks For Entry at Temple Site,” Church News, June 15, 1996
  9. [9] R. Scott Lloyd, “Vernal temple doors open to public,” Church News, Oct. 18, 1997
  10. [10] Julie A. Dockstader, “Symbol of heritage, testimony,” Church News, Nov. 8, 1997
  11. [11]John L. Hart, “Transformation Begins for Temple: Pres. Hinckley Breaks Ground at Uintah Stake Tabernacle” Church News (via Deseret News), 20 May 1995
  12. [12]Gerry Avant, “Angel Moroni statue tops Vernal Utah Temple tower. Church News, Oct. 5, 1996

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