Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
August 1974

“Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 88

Special Issue: Temples

Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In photographs taken especially for this issue, the 16 temples of this dispensation stand as beacons.

Washington Temple

This “gem among temples,” as it was called by President David O. McKay when he authorized its construction, is the 17th temple to be built by the Church. It is a seven-story, six-spired structure, a modern reminder of the Gothic-designed Salt Lake Temple that is well known around the world as a symbol of the Church. It is the first temple to be faced with marble. The gold-leafed statue of the angel Moroni on the highest spire is 18 feet tall, weighs two tons, and rises 288 feet above the ground.

Located on a 57-acre tract on one of the highest elevations in Montgomery County, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., the temple can be viewed from many angles from the circumferential highways around Washington. It is one-third larger than the Salt Lake Temple.

Ground was broken December 7, 1967, and the work of clearing the site began May 28, 1971. Dedication will be in late 1974.

This temple will serve U.S. Saints living east of the Mississippi River, and Saints in eastern Canada.

Ogden and Provo Temples

When studies in the 1960s showed that 52 percent of all temple ordinance work of the Church was being done in three of its 13 temples (Salt Lake, Logan, and Manti), it was determined that two more temples in heavily populated areas of Utah would greatly relieve the pressure on the other three.

Thus, Tabernacle Square in downtown Ogden was selected as a temple site for that area, to serve some 135,000 members of the Church. The other was in Provo, on a site northeast of Brigham Young University, near the mouth of Rock Canyon and within walking distance of BYU.

The design of these two sacred structures has resulted in landmarks of impressive and dramatic beauty. Both were built from the same interior design, but the exteriors, though similar in shape and constructed of gleaming white cast stone, are varied. The stone on the Provo Temple has a bas relief floral design, repeated in its 180-foot tower. The Ogden Temple stone has a fluted appearance, interspaced with decorative metal grillwork, with the fluted effect impressively repeated in the tower. Beautiful gold windows of directional glass are distinctive in both temples.

Larger than the European temples but not as elaborate as those in Oakland and Los Angeles, they contain four floors, one below ground and three above. The Ogden Temple was dedicated January 18, 1972, and the Provo Temple February 9, 1972, both by President Joseph Fielding Smith.

Oakland Temple

“A great white temple of the Lord will grace those hills, a glorious ensign to the nations.” This was the prophecy of President George Albert Smith in 1924 when, as a member of the Council of the Twelve, he looked over the San Francisco East Bay hills.

The site he envisioned was purchased in 1942, and construction of the magnificent five-towered Oakland Temple, which commands a sweeping view of the entire Bay area and the Pacific Ocean, began in May 1962. The building is faced from base to tower with sierra white granite. The center tower is 169 feet high, and four lesser towers, each 95 feet high, are perforated and covered with blue glass mosaic and gold leaf. At night they are illuminated from within, transmitting rays of lacy light. There are two sculptured panels on the exterior north and south facades of the temple, one depicting the Savior in Palestine and the other his appearance to the Nephites in America.

It was dedicated November 17, 1964, by President David O. McKay, the fifth and last temple he dedicated.

London Temple

Seven years after the Church was organized in 1830, the gospel was preached in England, and many thousands of British converts swelled the ranks of the struggling new church in America. The British Isles have furnished more converts to the Church than any other overseas country.

Later they were encouraged to build up the Church in their own land, and now seven missions and 14 stakes flourish in Great Britain. The Pears estate at Newchapel, Surrey, about 25 miles from London, was purchased as a temple site after World War II. Construction began in 1955. This modern structure of reinforced concrete and structural steel, faced with a white cement finishing stone, was dedicated by President David O. McKay on September 7, 1958.

New Zealand Temple

The gospel was first preached among the Maoris of New Zealand in their own tongue in 1881. So successful was the proselyting that non-Maori New Zealanders sometimes erroneously thought the Church was an organization for Maoris only. By 1887, 2,243 of the Church’s membership of 2,573 in New Zealand were Maoris. Today, there are some 35,000 members of the Church on the three islands of New Zealand.

Plans for a temple to serve Church members in the islands of the South Pacific and Australia were first announced in 1955, and a hilltop site at Tuhikaramea, five miles from Hamilton, was selected. The lovely white structure is similar in design and size to the Swiss and London temples. Building contractors from America were called on labor missions to erect this temple, and they trained young labor missionaries called from New Zealand and the South Seas.

The temple was dedicated on April 20, 1958, by President David O. McKay.

Los Angeles Temple

“The shores of the Pacific may yet be overlooked from the temple of the Lord.” So wrote Brigham Young and Willard Richards to the Saints in California in 1847.

Today, on a 13-acre hilltop tract near Westwood Village on Santa Monica Boulevard is the Los Angeles Temple, the largest the Church has built in this dispensation. The building measures 364 x 241 feet, is four stories high, and contains approximately four and a half acres of floor space. The assembly room, on the third floor, where priesthood meetings are held, measures 78 x 269 feet and is 34 feet high.

The statue of the angel Moroni atop this temple rises 257 feet into the air. The statue is over 15 feet tall, and the trumpet in his hands is 8 feet long.

Prior to dedication, some 662,000 people came to view the interior of the temple and to hear the story of the Church and the purposes of temples.

President David O. McKay dedicated the temple on March 11, 1956.

Swiss Temple

As early as 1906 President Joseph F. Smith prophesied at Bern, Switzerland, that “the time will come … when temples of God … will be erected in the divers countries of the earth. …” Almost half a century later, on July 22, 1952, President David O. McKay announced that the first temple in Europe would be constructed in Switzerland.

Located on a seven-acre tract of land at Zollikofen, a picturesque suburb near the city of Bern, this temple is smaller than those previously constructed. Its gold-tipped tower pierces the sky at a height of 140 feet. The remainder of the structure is a creamy-gray color, with white vertical pillars.

Dedicated by President McKay on September 11, 1955, and serving a continent of many languages, this temple is a particular joy to the Saints of Europe, both because of its accessibility and because the sessions are conducted in the various languages of the European Saints.

Idaho Falls Temple

In a scenic location beside the Snake River and overlooking the waterfalls for which the city was named, stands the beautiful Idaho Falls Temple. Land for the site was donated by Idaho Falls citizens.

Work began on this structure in 1939, with a solid bed of lava rock providing an ideal foundation. The building is faced with cast stone designed to sparkle in the sunlight and reflect artificial floodlight at night. The west side is mirrored in the Snake River. The center of the temple is a massive tower reaching 164 feet into the sky.

This temple serves thousands of Church members in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, much of this area being originally settled by Latter-day Saints from Utah. It was dedicated September 23, 1945, by President George Albert Smith.

Arizona Temple

In 1878 a company of pioneers laid the foundation for a community that is now Mesa, Arizona, 16 miles from Phoenix. For many years they undertook the long and arduous journey to Utah for temple marriages. In 1919 a fund-raising drive was started in the Arizona stakes, the Juarez Stake, and the California and Mexican missions to finance a temple at Mesa. Construction began in 1923, and the building was dedicated October 23, 1927, by President Heber J. Grant.

Architecturally, this temple is said to be an American adaptation of classic architecture. It is faced with a glazed, cream-colored tile. Beautiful exterior friezes tell the story of the gathering of Israel from the “four corners” of the earth.

The temple serves the needs of many Saints who reside in the southwestern United States, as well as those from Mexico and Central America.

Alberta Temple

Forty-one men, women, and children in seven wagons camped beside Lees Creek in June 1887 to begin the first Mormon settlement in Canada. Their center became the town of Cardston.

“This land will yet become a breadbasket to the world,” the hardy pioneers were told some years later by Elder John W. Taylor of the Council of the Twelve, “and in this land a temple shall be reared to the worship of Almighty God.” The Alberta Temple was the first Latter-day Saint temple built and dedicated outside the United States and Hawaii.

Under construction from 1913 to 1923, the temple is of beautiful white stone quarried near Kootenai Lakes in the neighboring province of British Columbia. This temple, octagonal in shape, rises clean and white on the Alberta prairie and can be seen from any direction as one approaches Cardston. The interior of the temple is noted for its beautiful woodwork of oak, ebony, maple, tulip, rose, African mahogany, and several varieties of walnut.

The temple was dedicated August 26, 1923, by President Heber J. Grant.

Hawaii Temple

Near the community of Laie, Oahu, in the Hawaiian Islands, stands the Hawaii Temple. It was the first of three temples to be built without a tower (the others were the Alberta and Arizona temples). Since the Hawaiian Islands were almost devoid of building materials, it was decided that volcanic rock, which was readily available and which could be crushed to make excellent concrete, would be used for the entire structure. For the finishing of the interior, hardwoods were used extensively.

The temple is in the form of a Grecian cross, 102 feet from east to west and 78 feet from north to south. The central portion rises to a height of 50 feet. There are four sculptured friezes on the exterior of the building, depicting four principal dispensations of the gospel.

The temple was dedicated November 27, 1919, by President Heber J. Grant.

Manti Temple

In August 1850, while visiting the Saints in central Utah’s Sanpete Valley, Brigham Young announced plans for building the Manti Temple. Later he was to say of the site, “Here is the spot where the prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a temple site. …” It was not until 1877, however, that ground was broken for this sixth and last temple to be built in the 19th century.

The temple stands on a stone quarry, and because of the solid rock foundation, one and a half years were required for excavation and terracing. The temple was 11 years in the building. Laborers were paid in livestock and farm produce. Pioneering in a harsh, almost unyielding land, theirs was a task that would have broken the spirit of less valiant people, or those without so lofty an ideal.

Like the Logan Temple, this structure was designed with towers on the east and west ends. Octagonal towers on the west end contain spiral staircases from basement to roof, through five stories. In each case the center is open, without supporting columns, and the walnut railings and balusters, winding up 90 feet, form a symmetrical coil, perfectly plumb from top to bottom. There are few such staircases in America.

The temple was dedicated May 21, 1888, by Elder Lorenzo Snow, then a member of the Council of the Twelve.

Logan Temple

Eighty-three miles north of Salt Lake City is the city of Logan in beautiful Cache Valley. Logan became a Mormon settlement in 1859, and soon after, the early residents wanted to build a temple there. In 1863 Wilford Woodruff told the Saints that the day would come when they would “have the privilege of going into the towers of a glorious temple … east of us upon the Logan Bench.”

Brigham Young dedicated the hillside temple site in May 1877. This five-story building of very dark gray siliceous limestone has towers on the west and east ends rising 165 and 170 feet, respectively, into the air. In addition, 100-foot octagonal towers at each corner of the building give the temple an unusual and fortress-like appearance.

No wages were paid for labor on this temple. Members faithfully donated livestock, produce, and money. The children contributed their nickels.

The Logan Temple was dedicated May 17, 1884, by President John Taylor.

St. George Temple

In Utah’s southwest corner is an 82-mile-long belt of fertile land in a semitropical climate. Because converts from the southern states were sent there to grow cotton, it became known as Utah’s “Dixie.”

Here in 1871, in the town of St. George, President Brigham Young announced that a temple would be built. A natural limestone ledge on the north side of the site became the foundation base, but water seepage soon threatened to halt work on the other sides. The ingenious pioneers made a pile driver by filling an old cannon of Mexican War vintage with lead and used it to pound hundreds of tons of volcanic rock into the earth to make a secure foundation for the temple. The old cannon still occupies a place of honor on the temple grounds.

The structure was built of native sandstone and covered with white stucco. On January 1, 1877, the lower story of the building was dedicated by Wilford Woodruff so that baptisms for the dead and endowments could begin. The building was dedicated by President Daniel H. Wells of the First Presidency on April 6, 1877.

Salt Lake Temple

In July 1847, only four days after the first pioneer company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young thrust his cane into the desert soil and said, “Here we will build a temple to our God.”

Ground was broken in February 1853 for a structure that would be 40 years and four million dollars in the making. It had been determined to build the temple out of the best materials that could be found, and blocks of gray granite, quarried in a canyon 20 miles to the east, were laboriously transported by ox team to the building site. Four yoke of oxen labored four days to transport a single block.

Because of the labor involved and the poverty of the pioneers, work came to a standstill many times. By 1873 the railroad began carrying the granite stone to a spur on Temple Square, but by 1877, when Brigham Young died, the temple walls had risen only 20 feet. Two succeeding presidents, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, carried this work to completion, and on April 5, 1898, the finishing touches were applied and the temple was opened to the public. It was dedicated April 6, 1898, by President Woodruff. In all, 31 dedicatory sessions were held, the last on April 24.

This temple became, as Brigham Young declared it should be, “a proud monument of the faith, perseverance, and industry of the Saints of God in the mountains in the nineteenth century.”

Nauvoo Temple

“… I command you again to build a house to my name, even in this place, that you may prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life.” (D&C 124:55.)

Thus spake the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith at Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1841, after the Saints had been forced to abandon the Kirtland Temple and had not been able to build on two other dedicated sites in Jackson County and at Far West, Missouri.

Now they would raise a beautiful structure of light gray sandstone, to be used for only about two months. This brief time of use was known to the Lord: great trials lay ahead for his persecuted people and they needed to be endowed with power from on high if they were to survive to build his kingdom.

Endowment work in the temple began in December 1845, and by the end of that month more than a thousand members had received these blessings. The temple was closed February 7, 1846, and Nauvoo became a deserted city as the Saints fled westward across the Mississippi River. In November 1848 a fire destroyed all but the four walls of the temple, and in 1850 a tornado blew the walls to the ground.

Kirtland Temple

Recognized as an excellent example of early American architecture, the Kirtland Temple was built during the Saints’ extreme poverty for “a great endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them.” (D&C 105:12.)

A three-story structure, the outer stone walls were covered with stucco. Many families sacrificed their fine china and glassware to be ground up and mixed with the stucco, thus giving a sparkle to the exterior.

Working with all their might and living as prudently as possible between the beginning of construction in 1833 and the dedication on March 27, 1836, the Saints built a temple 59 x 80 feet, with a tower rising 110 feet from the ground.

To this place the Savior came on April 3, 1886, and accepted the temple as a house to his name. Next came Moses, who committed to the Church the keys of the gathering of Israel; Elias, to confer his authority; and finally, Elijah, in fulfillment of Malachi’s prediction. (See D&C 110.)

The temple was used as a sacred edifice for two years, but when persecution caused a mass exodus of the Saints from Ohio, the temple was desecrated by their persecutors. The building has since been restored and is used as a meetinghouse by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“What is a temple?” is the universal question. And we answer: Each temple is dedicated as “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119.)

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances thereof. And yet, hundreds of millions have died without ever having heard that there is such a thing as a gospel plan. Since there is only one plan of salvation, surely there must be some provision made whereby these people may hear of it and have the privilege of either accepting or rejecting it. Such a plan is given in the principle of salvation for the dead. …

In the temples we administer … ordinances for the living and by the living for and in behalf of the dead. All ordinances performed by the priesthood of the Most High are as eternal as love, as comprehensive and enduring as life, and through obedience to them, all mankind, living and dead, may enter into and abide eternally in the kingdom of God. …

The eternity of [the] marriage covenant is a glorious revelation, giving assurance to hearts bound by the golden clasp of love and sealed by the authority of the Holy Priesthood that their union is eternal.

—David O. McKay
(Improvement Era, March 1956, pp. 141–42)

“Whatever the gospel offers may be done in a temple. Baptisms, ordinations to the priesthood, marriages, and sealings for time and eternity for the living and the dead, the endowment for the living and the dead, gospel instruction, councils for the work of the ministry, and all else belonging to the gospel are here performed. Indeed, in the temple the whole gospel is epitomized.”

—John A. Widtsoe
(“Looking Toward the Temple,” Ensign, January 1972, p. 58)

Photography by Royce Bair, Arch Cheney, Brian Kelly, Michael Keogh, Eldon Linschoten, George Oates, and Don Thorpe

Kirtland Temple.

1. Painting of Nauvoo Temple.

2. Salt Lake Temple in winter.

3. Manti Temple at night.

4. Manti Temple from a distance.

5. Logan Temple from a distance.

6. Tower of the St. George Temple.

7. St. George Temple.

8. Logan Temple in winter.

9. Mesa Temple in Arizona.

10. Alberta Temple in Cardston.

11. Frieze from the Hawaii Temple.

12. Hawaii Temple.

13. Idaho Falls Temple.

14. London Temple.

15. Swiss Temple.

16. Los Angeles Temple at night.

17. Los Angeles Temple.

18. New Zealand Temple.

19. Oakland Temple.

20. Provo Temple at sunset.

21. Provo Temple.

22. Ogden Temple.