Temple doors tend to be nice, but a few excel. For instance, the Salt Lake Temple doors are more ornate than most and include symbols. I was going to write about all temple doors with symbols, but have decided to just write about the Washington D.C. Temple doors.
|Washington D.C. Temple southeast doors.|
|Washington D.C. Temple northeast doors|
|Washington D.C. Temple main entry doors|
I'll start with a little background. When the church decided to build a temple in Washington D.C. (started 1968, completed 1974) they decided that it needed to be easily recognizable as an LDS temple. They decided that mimicking elements of the Salt Lake Temple would accomplish this. To the church's credit, it didn't just make a copy of the Salt Lake Temple but rather made a very modern interpretation of it. So while the temple has 2 sets of 3 symbolic towers with tiers, they don't look like those on the Salt Lake Temple. Similary, the temple has a priesthood assembly hall which echos the form of the Salt Lake Temple assembly room while being unique. The Washington D.C. Temple was also given a statue of the Angel Moroni (This wasn't standard then as only L.A. and Salt Lake had these statues at the time) but the statue wasn't a copy of the Salt Lake statue but instead a unique sculpture.
Looking at the Washington D.C. Temple from afar you'd think it lacked most of the symbolism seen on the salt lake temple - namely sun, moon, star and earth stones, the big dipper, etc. Indeed the stone facade lacks these ornaments; however, they are still present on the Washington D.C. Temple. They show up on the doors.
These doors have eight symbols. (Please click on the links to see the full doors) On the left side from bottom to top we see a star, a planet, concentric circles representing eternity, and the sun complete with a face. On the right side we have from bottom to top: the big dipper and north star, the earth, seven concentric pentagons representing seven dispensations, and the moon. I really like these doors because they are beautiful art done in a unique style. Each of these symbols have special symbolism.
The sun medallion essentially combines the Nauvoo Temple sun stone (which had a face) and the Salt Lake Temple sun stone style (which incidentally was shown to have a face at one point) while at the same time being a unique symbol. The moon medallion is round like the Salt Lake Temple’s but it has a crescent shape vaguely reminiscent of the Nauvoo Temple moon stones. The concentric circles is an adapted form of similar Salt Lake Temple symbols. The Salt Lake Temple doesn’t have the pentagons or planets, but early plans did call for Saturn stones. The Salt Lake Temple does have earth stones, however the decision to make the temple out of granite means that they have no detail, so it is nice to see an Earth medallion with details on the D.C. Temple. The bottom two symbols are also borrowed from the Salt Lake Temple which has many stars (which can represent heaven, a degree of glory, Christ as the morning and evening star, people who rely on the light of Christ, and several other things depending on context) as well as the big dipper which is used to imply the north star or us getting our bearings on life and charting a course for eternity. It is nice that these doors have the north star included. (The north star can also be a symbol of eternity as it is unchanging).
I really appreciate the detail, symbolism, beauty, artistry, artistic style and uniqueness of the Washington D.C. Temple doors. I like how they adapt (and add) symbols and brought them from stone to metal. Another advantage of these doors is that the symbols are brought to a level where you can see and contemplate them easily (In other words they are at eye level). Other temples have been given symbolic doors and I hope we will from time to time see these unique details in temple designs.
This is an addition to the original post
The artist who created the Washington D.C. Temple doors is Franz Johansen. He also made the large relief sculpture on the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City.
Here is a new picture of the door handles. The interior doors have door handles made to look like the east and west sides of the temple with a central tower and two flanking towers, but the exterior door handles look like this.
|Washington D.C. Temple exterior door handles|
Here are pictures of each of the door medallions. Each set has the medallion from the main entry doors on the left and the medallion from either the northeast or southeast doors on the right. I noticed that the symbols are organized. The top level has the sun and moon, major sources of light in day and night. The next level has concentric circles and concentric pentagons in circles, so it is where shapes are put. The next level has the planets and the earth, so it is dealing with planets. The bottom level has stars on one side, and the big dipper and north star on the other (in an eight pointed star). So the bottom level is filled with stars. The organization is nice and suggests that considerable thought went into these doors.
|Washington D.C. Temple door sun medallions|
|Washington D.C. Temple door moon medallions|
|Washington D.C. Temple door concentric circle medallions|
|Washington D.C. Temple door concentric pentagon medalions|
|Washington D.C. Temple planets medallions|
|Washington D.C. Temple door planet Earth medallions|
|Washington D.C. Temple door star medallions|
|Washington D.C. Temple door Big Dipper and Polaris medallions|