Salt Lake Temple
Dedicated in 1893, the Salt Lake Temple and its surrounding 10-acre square is Utah’s most visited attraction. There are two visitor centers located directly north and south of the famous Temple. Both serve as a sort of church history and Salt Lake City history museum, with LDS missionaries serving as tour guides and docents. Visitors to Salt Lake City might not be able to tour the LDS Temple due to its sacred nature to members of the church, but they can enjoy a guided tour of Temple Square at no cost.
Backstory and Context
Visitors to the city are often surprised to find that this was the fourth temple built in Utah. Although church members began planning the construction of this temple in 1847, fears of its destruction halted the project in 1857. Although church members had been persecuted in the past, they were relieved that the army that entered Salt Lake and established a camp nearby did not have hostile intentions and church members revived construction efforts in 1861. Construction moved slowly for many years, as the building's plans required the movement of large sections of limestone that weighed many tons in an era when there were no railroads in Utah.
The Salt Lake Temple was the only one dedicated in 1893 by Church President Wilford Woodruff after over forty years of effort. The temple's ornate interior was completed in just a year. The Temple is considered a feat of architecture because the walls are nine feet thick at the base and six feet thick at the top. It was also the first temple to feature a standing Moroni statue. The statue is 14-feet tall and attached to a rod that extends 27 feet into the tower, terminating with a 4,000-pound counterbalance to keep the statue immovable.
The Salt Lake Temple features beautiful hand-painted murals on the walls of its progressive-style ordinance rooms: Creation Room, Garden Room, World Room, Terrestrial Room, and Celestial Room. The Salt Lake Temple was completed the afternoon before the dedication. That evening invited non-Mormon government officials, business leaders, and other guests were given a complete tour of the temple. It was the first time that a temple had been opened to the public before its dedication.
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.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/ AP - Rick Bowme