Truman O. Angell
September 2011

“Truman O. Angell,” Ensign, Sept. 2011, 73

Great Lives Remembered

Truman O. Angell

Truman Osborn Angell (1810–87) served for several decades as Church architect, planning and directing the construction of many significant buildings, including the Salt Lake Temple. Throughout his years of service to the Church, Truman was humble and obedient.

He was born on June 5, 1810, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. When he was a teenager, a local craftsman taught him carpentry and joinery, a specialized kind of woodworking.

At age 22 he was introduced to the Church by his sister, who had received a copy of the Book of Mormon from missionary Thomas B. Marsh. In January 1833 Truman was baptized along with his mother, Phebe, and his wife, Polly.

Shortly after Truman was ordained a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, the Prophet Joseph Smith requested that he build a store in Kirtland, Ohio. Truman declined, telling the Prophet he was preparing to leave for a mission. The next day, however, Truman saw the First Presidency in the distance and felt prompted to accept the building assignment from the Prophet. He later recorded, “Accordingly I changed my determination and yielded obedience.”1

In 1856 President Brigham Young sent Truman on a mission to Europe, instructing him to “take drafts of valuable works of architecture” so he could “be better qualified to continue” to work on the Salt Lake Temple and other buildings.2

Truman was called as Church architect in 1867. (The Church no longer calls an official Church architect.) Although years of hard work had caused Truman’s health to suffer, he humbly accepted the call. He wrote in his journal, “I feel a good deal worn out but if the President and my brethren feel to sustain a poor worm of dust like me to be Architect of the Church, let me strive to serve them and not disgrace myself. … May the Lord help me so to do.”3

Truman directed many building projects in Utah, including the Lion House, the Beehive House, the Utah Territorial Statehouse, and the St. George Utah Temple.

Truman did not live to see the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893, but he served faithfully as Church architect until his death in 1887.


  1. Truman O. Angell, in Kate B. Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, 20 vols. (1958–77), 10:197.

  2. See Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, 10:204.

  3. In Paul L. Anderson, “Truman O. Angell: Architect and Saint,” in Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and David J. Whittaker (1985), 161; spelling standardized.