Fashion and Function: Weathervanes

Did you know that in the early days of the restoration of the Gospel, before there were ever Angel Moroni statues, there were weather vanes?

The first temple of the Restored Church was dedicated in 1836 in Kirtland, Ohio. The temple was three stories, covered in sparkling white stucco and stood at the top of the south ridge of a river valley. On top of the single tower a weather vane turned with the wind. At the time, weather vanes were often placed on the tallest buildings in a community. Churches and civic buildings would often have weather vanes which were of great use to communities whose industries were often dependent upon the weather for survival.

The Nauvoo Temple was given a 3-dimensional weather vane in the form of a figure made of tin and covered in gold. It was fashioned in the likeness of a man, holding a book raised in one hand and a trumpet to his lips in the other, wearing robes and a cap and laying horizontal as if flying. It was a representation of the angel described in the verse in Revelation 14:6

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”

After the LDS Church relocated to Utah, the first temples built in their new home would also have weather vanes. The Saint George Temple had a weather vane on its original short tower and still does on its current taller tower. The Logan Temple was built with two towers, one at each end, both topped with a weather vane.

Original short tower of the St. George Temple

Weather vanes were even considered for the Salt Lake Temple. Some of the early drawings depicting what the Salt Lake Temple would look like feature the Nauvoo weather vane on both the east and west center towers. It was not until the 5th temple was built in Manti, Utah that the saints would break with the tradition (having neither weather vane nor statue).

The towers of the Manti Utah Temple
Kirtland Ohio Temple with weather vane
St. George Temple spire with weather vane
Logan Utah Temple west spire with weather vane