- Salt Lake, Utah
- April 6, 1893 – Dedication date
Providential Importance in HistoryPresident Brigham Young I scarcely ever say much about revelations, or visions, but suffice to say, five years ago last July I was here, and saw in the spirit the Temple not ten feet from where we have laid the chief cornerstone. I have not inquired what kind of a Temple we should build. Why? Because it was represented before me. I have never looked upon that ground, but the vision of it was there. I see it as plainly as if it was in reality before me. Wait until it is done. I will say, however, that it will have six towers to begin with, instead of one. Now do not any of you apostatize because it will have six towers, and Joseph only built one. It is easier for us to build sixteen than it was for him to build one. The time will come when there will be one in the center of Temples we shall build and on the top, groves and fish ponds. But we shall not see them here, at present. 1
Heavenly VisitationsBy LeRoi C. Snow For some time President Woodruff’s health had been failing. Nearly every evening President Lorenzo Snow visited him at his home on South 5th East Street. This particular evening the doctors said President Woodruff was failing rapidly and they feared he would not live much longer. Lorenzo Snow was then President of the Council of Twelve and was greatly worried over the possibility of succeeding President Woodruff, especially because of the terrible financial condition of the Church. Referring to this condition, President Heber J. Grant has said: “The Church was in a financial slough of despond, so to speak, almost financially bankrupt—its credit was hardly good for a thousand dollars without security.” My father went to his room in the Salt Lake Temple, where he was residing at the time. He dressed in his robes of the Priesthood, went into the Holy of Holies, there in the House of the Lord and knelt at the sacred altar. He plead with the Lord to spare President Woodruff’s life, that President Woodruff might outlive him and that the great responsibility of Church leadership would never fall upon his shoulders. Yet he promised the Lord that he would devotedly perform any duty required at his hands. At this time he was in his eighty-sixth year. Soon after this President Woodruff was taken to California, where he died Friday morning at 6:40 o’clock, September 2, 1898. President George Q. Cannon at once wired the sad information to the President’s office in Salt Lake City. Word was forwarded to President Snow who was in Brigham City. The telegram was delivered to him on the street in Brigham. He read it to President Rudger Clawson, then president of Box Elder Stake, who was with him, went to the telegraph office and replied that he would leave on the train about 5:30 that evening. He reached Salt Lake City about 7:15, proceeded to the President’s office, gave some instructions and then went to his private room in the Salt Lake Temple. President Snow put on his holy temple robes, repaired again to the same sacred altar, offered up the signs of the Priesthood, and poured out his heart to the Lord. He reminded the Lord how he had plead for President Woodruff’s life and that his days might be lengthened beyond his own; that he might never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of Church leadership. “Nevertheless,” he said, “Thy will be done. I have not sought this responsibility but if it be Thy will, I now present myself before Thee for Thy guidance and instruction. I ask that Thou show me what Thou wouldst have me do.” After finishing his prayer he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord. So he waited—and waited—and waited. There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation. He left the altar and the room in great disappointment. He passed through the Celestial room and out into the large corridor leading to his own room where a most glorious manifestation was given President Snow. One of the most beautiful accounts of this experience is told by his granddaughter, Allie Young Pond. “One evening when I was visiting Grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the doorkeepers had gone and the nightwatchman had not yet come in, so Grandpa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser. “After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor, leading into the Celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of Grandpa when he stopped me, saying: `Wait a moment, Allie. I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as he had done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.’ “Then Grandpa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: `He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.’ “Grandpa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful White Robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him. “Then Grandpa came another step nearer me and put his right hand on my head and said: `Now, granddaughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grandfather, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior here in the Temple and talked with Him face to face.’ “Then we went on and Grandpa let me out of the main front door of the Temple.” During the M. I. A. June conference in 1919 at the officers’ testimony meeting in the Assembly Hall, I related Allie Young Pond’s experience and testimony. President Heber J. Grant immediately arose and said: “In confirmation of the testimony given by Brother LeRoi C. Snow quoting the granddaughter of Lorenzo Snow, I want to call attention to the fact that several years elapsed after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith before President Young was sustained as the president of the Church. After the death of President Young, several years elapsed again before President Taylor was sustained, and again when he died several years elapsed before President Woodruff was sustained. “After the funeral of President Wilford Woodruff the Apostles met in the office of the First Presidency and Brother Francis M. Lyman said: `I feel impressed although one of the younger members of the quorum, to say that I believe it would be pleasing in the sight of the Lord if the First Presidency of the Church was reorganized right here and right now. If I am in error regarding this impression, President Snow and the senior members of the council can correct me.’ “President Snow said that he would be pleased to hear from all the brethren upon this question, and each and all of us expressed ourselves as believing it would be pleasing to the Lord and that it would be the proper thing to have the Presidency organized at once. “When we had finished, then and not until then did Brother Snow tell us that he was instructed of the Lord in the Temple the night after President Woodruff died, to organize the Presidency of the Church at once. President Anthon H. Lund and myself are the only men now living who were present at that meeting.” 2
VisionsBy President Wilford Woodruff When in the western country, many years ago, before we came to the Rocky Mountains, I had a dream. I dreamed of being in these mountains, and of seeing a large fine looking temple erected in one of these valleys which was built of cut granite stone. I saw that temple dedicated, and I attended the dedicatory services, and I saw a good many men that are living today in the midst of this people. And I saw them called of God and sent forth into the United States and to Babylon, or what is called the Christian world, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony against the nations of the earth, because they had rejected the testimony of Jesus and of the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth. When the foundation of that temple was laid I thought of my dream, and a great many times since. And whenever President Young held a council of the brethren of the Twelve and talked of building the temple of adobe or brick, which was done, I would say to myself, “No, you will never do it”; because I had seen it in my dream built of some other material. I mention these things to show you that things are manifested to the Latter-day Saints sometimes which we do not know anything about only as they are given by the Spirit of God. 3
Physical and Historical DescriptionNo object in Salt Lake City excites greater interest in the minds of strangers than the Temple, which has been erected by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It elicits expressions of wonderment because of its beautiful yet massive proportions, unique architecture, and evident costliness. Numerous questions are asked concerning the structure, the purposes for which it has been built, and why none but members of the Church are permitted to enter its precincts. This article has been compiled, from authentic sources, to satisfy all reasonable inquiries in relation to these matters. Four days after the arrival of the Pioneers on the barren site of this now lovely city, July 28, 1847, President Brigham Young, while walking over the ground with some of his associates, suddenly stopped, and, striking the point of his cane into the parched soil, exclaimed, “Here we will build the Temple of our God.” His prophetic words were noted by his companions, and Apostle (afterwards President) Wilford Woodruff drove a wooden stake into the small hole made by the point of President Young’s cane. On the evening of the same day, the ten acres selected for the Temple Block were marked out, and it was decided that the future city should surround that square. In April, 1851, the members of the Church—assembled in general conference—voted unanimously to build the Temple. February 14, 1853, after the site for the great structure was surveyed, the block was solemnly dedicated, and ground broken for the foundation of the Temple. On April 6th of the same year the cornerstones of the Temple were laid, with impressive ceremonies, amid great rejoicing of the assembled multitude. Unknown to those who surveyed the site for the building, the wooden stake driven into the ground by Wilford Woodruff, on the 28th of July, 1847, marked the center of the plot laid out by them. It should ever be remembered that this magnificent structure was planned and its erection begun by a small number of despoiled and destitute people, at a time when they were struggling for existence in the midst of adverse surroundings. We shall not enumerate the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles which, from time to time, hindered the progress of the stupendous undertaking; but it may well be said that the completed Temple is a monument of faith and work unparalleled in the world’s history. The Temple is built of gray granite taken from a mountain of that enduring material at the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon, twenty miles southeast of the city. Many blocks of granite in the walls are so large that four yoke of oxen were required to haul each of them, occupying four days in transit. This process of hauling rocks by ox-team, from the quarry to the Temple site, was so slow and expensive that President Young decided to have a canal constructed to carry the rock by boats. Accordingly, the canal was dug, at great cost, from the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon across the bench land, to an outlet in City Creek, near the Temple block. But in 1873, before the canal was sufficiently completed to be made available for the main purpose in view, a line of railroad was laid which supplanted this contemplated use of the canal. The latter has since been used to great advantage in conveying a large supply of water from Jordan River to the City. Some idea of the massiveness of the building, and of the enormous amount of rock used in its construction, may be obtained from the following figures: Foundation, or footing wall, sixteen feet wide and eight feet deep; basement walls, eight feet thick; upper story walls, six feet thick. The extreme length of the building is 186 1/2 feet; extreme width, 118 1/2 feet. Height of side walls on main bulding, 107 1/2 feet; east center tower, 210 feet high; west center tower, 204 feet. Inverted arches are constructed in the foundation, to distribute evenly the enormous pressure of the massive walls. The entire area is 21,850 feet. The architecture of the Temple is composite and original. The six towers, three on the east and three on the west, are built entirely of granite. Within each of the four corner towers there is a spiral staircase. There are 172 granite steps, and four landings, in each of these stairways. Each step is six feet long, and weighs over 1,700 pounds. On the capstone of the east center tower is a hammered copper statue, twelve feet five and one-half inches in height, heavily gilded with pure gold leaf. It represents the angel Moroni, blowing a trumpet, proclaiming the restoration of the Gospel. The largest dressed rocks in the building are known as the “Earth Stones.” They are at the base of the buttresses, near the level of the ground, on each side of the basement windows, fifty of them in all. Each of these blocks of granite is five and one-half feet high, four and one-half feet wide, and twenty inches thick, and weighs over three tons. On each of them is carved, in bas-relief, a globe three feet eleven inches in diameter. They cost, when finished, about $300 each. The “Moon Stones” are also fifty in number, inserted in the buttresses in line with the top of the first row of oval windows. These stones are carved to represent the different phases of the moon. On the buttresses above the “Moon Stones,” in line with the top of the upper row of oval windows, are the “Sun Stones,” fifty in number. Nearly all the keystones of the windows and doors in the building are ornamented with a beautifully cut five-pointed star. There are also stars carved on the face of a large number of other granite stones prominent in various parts of the structure. On the facade of the middle tower at the west end of the building, in line with the battlements, is carved the seven stars forming the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, or dipper, with the pointers directed, as nearly as possible, toward the North Star. The keystones of the lower windows of the east and west center towers have inscribed on them the words of the Lord, “I am Alpha and Omega.” Below these keystones is carved the emblem of Clasped Hands, and on the stones at the top of the upper windows in the same towers is depicted the awe-inspiring symbol of the All-Seeing Eye. At the top of the buttresses of the east center tower are carved representations of rays of light emanating from clouds. The stones representing rays of light streaming from the midst of clouds indicate Gospel Light dispelling the clouds of error which had enshrouded the world: “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” The stones representing the sun, earth, moon and numerous stars, are allegorical emblems of the conditions to which the resurrected souls of mankind will be assigned when all are judged “according to their works.” “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” 4 The depicted constellation of Ursa Major, with the pointers directed to the North Star, is intended to remind those in doubt concerning the true way, that they should follow the path indicated by the Priesthood. The Clasped Hands are emblematic of the strong union and brotherly love characteristic of Latter-day Saints, through which they have been enabled to accomplish so much both at home and abroad. The grand truth recorded in the Scriptures, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” is expressed by the symbol of the All-Seeing Eye. The following words are inscribed on a stone tablet on the east center tower of the Temple:
HOLINESS TO THE LORD
THE HOUSE OF THE LORD BUILT BY THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
COMMENCED APRIL 6, 1853;
COMPLETED APRIL 6, 1893. 5
Presidents of the Salt Lake Temple:
- Lorenzo Snow, 1893-1898.
- Joseph F. Smith, 1898-1911.
- Anthon H. Lund, 1911-1921.
- George F. Richards, 1921-1938.
- Stephen L. Chipman, 1938-1945.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, 1945-1949.
- Robert D. Young, 1949-1953
- ElRay L. Christiansen, 1953-1961.
- Willard E. Smith, 1961-1964.
- Howard S. McDonald, 1964—Present Incumbent. 6