Cyrus Dallin sculpted the first Statue and firmly linked the Statue with Angel Moroni in the minds of the members, but it did not initiate the tradition. A 62 year span of time occurred between the placement of the Salt Lake Temple Moroni and the placement of the second Angel Moroni on Los Angeles Temple. During that time, five temples were built and dedicated without an angel Moroni statue. There were also 5 temples already built (3 temples still in use) without Statues when Salt Lake was dedicated.
Los Angeles did not start the tradition either. The time between the second Angel Moroni at Los Angeles and the third Angel Moroni at Washington D.C. comprised 20 years. Five additional temples were built and dedicated in that time, again without Angel Moroni statues.
The tradition of placing Moroni Statues on every temple began with the Atlanta Georgia Temple in 1982.* Prior to the Atlanta Georgia Temple, 19 temples had been built and were being used, and only 5 of them had statues. That’s only 1/4 of all temples at that time that had Statues.
The Atlanta Temple was initially planned to have neither an angel nor a spire. A writer for the “Faith & Values” section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution declared that with the lack of spire and statue the design was not up to “Mormon Temple” standards.
The review was forwarded to the First Presidency by Church Public Affairs Director for Atlanta, Donald Conkey. On January 1982 a new design was unveiled featuring not only a spire, but an Angel Moroni Statue.
This tradition has continued unbroken through 131 temples over the last 33 years†. The first temple to break this trend is the Paris France Temple, which has been designed to have neither spire nor statue‡.
*Technically the tradition could be said to have started with Seattle, as Seattle and Jordan River both had statues, but as Atlanta was not originally intended to have a spire or statue it marks a shift in the planning of the Church Temple Department.
†including temples still under construction that have received the statue.
‡ With the exception of 3 temples. Boston Massachusetts and Sydney Australia both had the statue delayed 1 year until the resolution of ongoing litigation. Manhattan Temple was initially intended to have no spire, but plans were changed around the time of dedication and the spire was added 4 months later.
Temples without Moroni:
SLC to LA
Temples without Moroni:
LA > DC
All Temples Pre Atlanta
With Moroni in Bold
Salt Lake City
Idaho Falls Idaho
Los Angeles California
Hamilton New Zealand
Sao Paulo Brazil
Jordon River Utah