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Salt Lake Temple
LDS temple in Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake Temple
Closed for Renovation
Salt Lake Temple is the centerpiece of the 10-acre (4.0 ha) Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Cutaway model showing the interior layout of the temple
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, the church and its members consider it sacred 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. Since then, various photographs have been published, including by Life magazine in 1938. 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, Latter-day Saints from around the world patronize the temple.
The temple includes some elements thought to evoke Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem. It is oriented towards Jerusalem 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.) At the east end of the building, the height of the center pinnacle to the base of the angel Moroni is 210 feet, or 120 cubits, making this Temple 20 cubits taller than the Temple of Solomon.
In 1999, as the building of LDS temples accelerated, the church announced a formal naming convention for all existing and future temples. For temples in the United States and Canada, the temple's name 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 temple's name is generally the city name (as above) followed by the country name. However, for reasons on which the church did not elaborate, the Salt Lake Temple was not renamed the "Salt Lake City Utah Temple". (The Provo City Center Temple is the only other temple that does not include a state, province, or country in the temple's name.)
The temple is 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 site's southwest slope.
The temple is considered the house of God and is reserved for special ceremonies for practicing Latter-Day Saints. The main ordinance rooms are used during the endowment ceremony--namely the creation, garden, telestial, terrestrial, and celestial rooms in that order of use. A washing and anointing ceremony is also administered, and until 1921, the rooms were also used for healing rituals of washing and anointing for the sick or pregnant and were administered by women and men.:16,67 The temple also serves as a place for marriage sealing ceremonies for live and deceased persons. Additional uses include functioning as a location for baptisms for the dead, baptisms for health (until being discontinued in 1921),:98 and, briefly, for re-baptism for the renewal of covenants.:97 Other rituals performed in the temple include the second anointing ordinance for live and deceased persons, and meeting rooms for church leaders.:195-197:30
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 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, 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.
A plaque with construction details
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. At the capstone ceremony, Woodruff proposed the building's interior be finished within one year, which would allow the temple to be dedicated forty years to the day of its commencement. John R. Winder was instrumental in overseeing the interior's completion on schedule; he would serve as a member of the temple presidency until his death in 1910. Woodruff dedicated the temple on April 6, 1893, exactly forty years after the cornerstone was laid.
Aerial computer rendering of Temple Square upon renovation completion
Computer-generated cutaway model of the Salt Lake Temple post-renovation showing the newly-installed base isolators and underground facilities.
The temple's outdated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems will be replaced with more modern and efficient systems. The walls around the temple will be reconstructed with new entranceways and openings for patron and visitor access, allowing easier viewing and passage. The interior of the temple, along with its historical artifacts, will be preserved and restored to their original design and aesthetic. Within Temple Square, the landscapes and plazas will be almost completely redone, adding new facilities, amenities, and visitor-oriented activities throughout the complex. Visitor access and tourism will still remain during the entire renovation process, but in regulated and coordinated fashion.
The Salt Lake Temple incorporates many symbolic adornments including Masonic symbols.:73,79:38-39 Symbolism is an important subject in the LDS faith. These symbols include the following:
Infographic of the locations and details of some Salt Lake Temple exterior symbols.
All-Seeing Eye - The center tower on each side has a depiction of the All-Seeing Eye of God representing how God sees all things.:147
Original 1854 design of the East side showing the horizontal angel, Sun faces, earth details, and compass and square window details. These elements were later modified or removed.
Angel Statue - The golden Angel Moroni statue, by sculptor Cyrus E. Dallin, tops the capstone of the temple. It 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 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 Paris-trained sculptor Dallin's 12.5-foot statue wears a crown instead of a temple cap that included a bright light which created a halo effect at night. As a result of an earthquake on March 18, 2020, the statue's trumpet broke.
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.:44
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.:42 The uppermost stars on the temple's constellation align with the actual North Star.
Compass and Square - Early plan drawings of the temple show the Masonic arrangements of a compass and square placed around the second and fourth floor windows,:43 but the plans were changed during construction.:39 These symbols had appeared on the Nauvoo Temple weathervane.:43
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.:43
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.:43
Earths - The Earth Stones in the lower buttresses have been interpreted as the gospel of Christ spreading over the whole Earth.:42
An original 1854 elevation plan showing the saturn stones, earth stone detail, Sun faces, and square and compass window accents. These elements were later discarded.
Saturns - Early drawings and a written description by Angell showed Saturnstones along the top tier of the temple,:146 though the design was changed years later.:60-62:9
Spires - 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.
Sun, Moon, and Stars - Around the temple there are several carved stones depicting the Sun, Moon, and stars which correspond respectively to the celestial, terrestrial, and telestialkingdoms of glory in the afterlife.:42 The sunstones have also been interpreted to represent God, the moonstones in different phases as representing different phases of life, and the starstones representing Jesus Christ. These symbols were drawn from the three lesser lights symbols in the Freemasonry practiced by many early church leaders in Nauvoo. Additionally, five-pointed stars have traditionally represented the five wounds of Christ (hands, feet, and side) and the five-pointed star with an elongated downward ray found on several LDS temples has been interpreted to represent Christ coming to Earth.:125
Two bombing incidents have damaged the temple. On April 10, 1910, a bomb at the nearby Hotel Utah (now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building) damaged the trumpet of the Moroni statue atop the temple. On November 14, 1962, the southeast door of the Salt Lake Temple was bombed. FBI agents state that the explosive had been wrapped around the door handles on the temple's southeast entrance. 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. Eleven exterior windows were shattered.
1999 Salt Lake City tornado
The temple suffered light to moderate damage in 1999 when a tornado rated F2 on the Fujita Scale struck Salt Lake City. A wedding ceremony taking place at the time allowed a photographer taking photographs of the new couple to record video of the tornado as it passed near the temple, forcing the bride and groom and everyone with them to shelter against the temple doors and pillars for protection from the wind and debris. They were unable to be allowed inside to take shelter as the temple doors were locked. Despite being pelted with rain and hail, everyone survived, and were able to then come out to look at the damage to many of the trees around the temple grounds and surrounding buildings before resuming the ceremony.
2020 Salt Lake City earthquake
On the morning of March 18, 2020, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck just outside Salt Lake City. Though most of the damage was outside the city, minor damage was inflicted on the temple. The trumpet of the Angel Moroni on top of the temple's tallest spire was lodged out of the statue, and some stones from the smaller spires were displaced. No other damage to the temple has been reported.
Below are several photographs from the interior of the temple. In response to a member obtaining unauthorized images of the interior of the temple, church leaders decided to release the book The House of the Lord in 1912, which contained authorized black-and-white photographs of the interior, some of which are shown below.:240-316:6:365-369,374 The unauthorized photographs had been taken over several months the year before by a man who was repeatedly allowed to enter with his camera while the temple was closed by a temple gardener friend.:358,362
^Cowan, Richard O. (2012). "Latter-day Saint Temples as Symbols". Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture. 21 (1). Archived from the original on July 10, 2017. Retrieved 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
^Kirby, Robert (March 10, 2017). "Kirby's disturbing history: Close encounters of the bizarre kind at Mormonism's Temple Square". The Salt Lake Tribune. In April 1910, Moroni's trumpet was knocked awry by a bomb set at the construction site of the Hotel Utah across the street. The bomb, which involved a labor dispute, shattered windows blocks away. Moroni's trumpet wasn't fixed until two months later, when the church paid a couple of steeplejacks $125 to climb the spire and reposition it.