Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas at LDS Temples

With Christmas approaching, I thought I'd write a little bit about LDS temples that have Christmas displays.  This list is not exhaustive, but should highlight some of the great Christmas displays at Mormon temples.

The Salt Lake Temple has the most prominent Christmas displays.  Massive amounts of intricately placed tasteful Christmas lights fill Temple Square, the Conference Center Plaza, Main Street Plaza, and the block east of the temple.  Dozens of large nativity sets are placed on the block east of the temple.  A prominent nativity scene, complete with audio narration, is done on the grass between the Tabernacle and the North Visitors Center.
Christmas Lights at Temple Square

The buildings on Temple Square also receive decoration with wreaths and Christmas trees being placed in the Conference Center, Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, Visitors Centers, and Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  Christmas events also take place such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, Christmas themed films in the visitors centers, and numerous other Christmas concerts and events.  You can see some photos and read a great article on how Christmas lights started at Temple square here.

Christmas Lights around the Assembly Hall on Temple Square

The St. George Temple also has Christmas lights.  There is a formal lighting ceremony each year, usually on the day after Thanksgiving.  A photo can be seen here.

The Washington D.C. Temple features its Festival of Lights each Christmas season.  The festival includes international nativity scenes and Christmas trees, nightly concerts, and a vast number of Christmas lights.
Washington D.C. Temple Festival of Lights

The Mesa Arizona Temple also has a Christmas light display and nativity scenes.  Some photos can be seen here.  International nativity scenes are on display.
Mesa Arizona Temple Christmas Lights
Mesa Arizona Temple Christmas Lights

The Oakland California Temple has a Christmas lights display.
Oakland California Temple Christmas Lights

The San Diego California Temple has some Christmas lights and a nativity scene that can be seen here.  In fact, many temples have a small nativity scene even though most temples don't have Christmas lights or other events that would attract non temple patrons during the holidays.

The Los Angeles California Temple has a Christmas lights display that can be seen here.

The Hamilton New Zealand Temple also features a Christmas lights display that can be seen here.

One of the nice things about Christmas lights at Mormon temples is how tastefully they are done.  The lights are very neatly arranged.  Great care is taken so that the lights don't take away from the temple.  Nativity sets are a common feature so that these Christmas displays can remain religious and focused on Jesus Christ who is the reason for Christmas and central to our temples.  I've seen Christmas light displays at other churches with varying degrees of success .  Some are tasteful, but unfortunately some are commercial, lack the religious elements, or are focused on Santa instead of The LORD Jesus Christ.  I'm glad that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints keeps the proper focus on Jesus Christ.

There are probably a few more temples with Christmas lights and other Christmas decorations.  Please comment and tell us about them, or more about some of the ones that I mentioned but know little about.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Fortaleza Brazil Temple Rendering

In case you missed it, the church recently broke ground on, and released the rendering of, the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.  It is another of the two towered temple style.  Here is the rendering, followed by the renderings of the other new two towered temples for reference.
Fortaleza Brazil Temple Rendering
Brigham City Temple Rendering
Kansas City Temple Rendering
Rome Italy Temple Rendering
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple Rendering
 I like the new rendering of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple.  I am a big fan of the new two towered temple style.  I like the classical design of this new temple, although I like the neoclassical architecture used in the Philadelphia Temple even more.  The Fortaleza Temple is built into a hill which should allow light to fill the baptistery.  I particularly like the towers of the Fortaleza Temple and the slight concave curves on each side.  I also like the columns on the towers and the fact that they cluster on the corners.

Well, that was a really short post, but hopefully you liked the rendering.  Please comment and let us know what you think about this new temple rendering.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Washington D.C. LDS Temple

I love the Washington D.C. Temple.  I have been inside once and outside two other times.

The Washington D.C. Temple (actually in Maryland, right next to the Capitol Beltway) is a huge temple.  It is 288 ft tall, taller than the Salt Lake Temple.  It is the third largest temple by square footage, but I believe it is the largest in overall dimensions (100 ft wide by 247 feet long by 288 ft tall).  The temple sits on a heavily wooded site, but due to its size, it is noticeable from all around and very prominently seen from the freeway.  It looks even bigger in person.
The Washington D.C. Temple
The exterior architecture of the Washington D.C. Temple is based on the Salt Lake Temple.  It has 6 spires (and was the first temple since Salt Lake to have six).  The three spires on the east side represent the Melchizedek Priesthood and presidencies in it (in particular a stake presidency or the first presidency).  The western three spires represent the Aaronic Priesthood and a bishopric or the presiding bishopric.  On this temple, all six spires are at different elevations, which gives the temple a slightly different look as you walk around it.  The top of the towers have gold leafed spires with pointed arches in them.  Pointed arches are used throughout the temple.

The Washington D.C. Temple also has a unique Angel Moroni Statue (added when only the Salt Lake and LA Temples had one).  This Angel Moroni statue is holding a representation of the gold plates that The Book of Mormon was translated from (and is one of the few that do).  If you want to see this statue, but can't get to D.C., the Jordan River Utah Temple, Seattle Washington Temple, and Mexico City Mexico Temple each are topped with replicas of the Washington D.C. Angel Moroni statue.  The original was sculpted by Avard Fairbanks and is an 18 ft tall bronze sculpture covered in gold leaf.  The replicas are 15 ft.

The doors of the Washington D.C. Temple are also very ornate.  I've discussed them before on this blog.  You can read about them here.  They incorporate many of the symbols on the Salt Lake Temple.  I also intend to update that post with more pictures of the doors, so you may want to look at it again.  There are ornate doors on the southeast and northeast sides of the temple and slightly different doors on the main entry on the north.
Washington D.C. Temple northeast doors
Washington D.C. Temple main entry doors

The Washington D.C. Temple is not just a copy of the Salt Lake Temple.  It was completed in 1974 and has a lot of 60s and 70s architecture (in a good way).  It is very modern and sleek.  The temple is made of reinforced concrete covered in white marble.  You might think that it doesn't have windows.  It actually has two types of windows.  On the east and west sides there is a stained glass window going continuous from the first to seventh floors.  This is striking at night when the temple is viewed from the outside.  On the inside, the center towers are open center staircases with these windows along one corner.  The other windows in this temple are stone windows.  Some of the white marble was cut thin enough to be translucent and provides light to the interior.  Numerous vertical ribs draw the eye upward and exaggerate the height of the already tall building.  They also add to the sleek look of the temple and cast small shadows that constantly change the way that the temple looks as the sun moves.

The Interior
You enter the Washington D.C. Temple on the north.  The entrance is actually in an annex.  Behind the recommend desk there is stained glass similar to that found on the east and west center towers.  Then there is a nice lobby on a bridge leading to the temple proper.  The glass is clear here so you can see the trees and the temple.  Even more importantly, you can a very large (30 ft long) original painting of the second coming of Jesus Christ painted for this temple.  I've seen prints of this painting many times before.  It shows the righteous on the right hand of Jesus, welcoming him in joy and the wicked on the left hand side hiding from him.  In the upper corner on the left side of the painting (right hand of Christ) is the Washington D.C. Temple.  Prints of this painting are nice, but experiencing it in person is even better.  As you approach it you are walking straight towards Christ, and because you are on a bridge, at first you cannot see the whole painting.  All that you can see is Christ and the righteous.  It feels like you are coming to join Christ in joy as you approach the temple (which you can see through the clear windows of the bridge).  When you get fully into the temple proper, you can see the entire painting including the wicked, which makes you want to help them.  I don't know if the artist intended the painting to be displayed this way, but it is effective and powerful.  Intended or not, how the painting is displayed magnifies its effect.  The painting is in a room with a lot of dark walnut woodwork which, although not in style right now, looks really good.  This is the second floor of the temple.  Most of the floor is a lobby with this painting.  The floor also holds a chapel and temple offices.
Washington D.C. Temple annex bridge
Washington D.C. Temple mural of the second coming of Jesus Christ
You can go up or down floors either by using one of the staircases on either end of the temple, or by taking one of four elevators (two on each end).  There are also four other staircases in the smaller towers, but I didn't see them.  The east and west end staircases are square in shape with an open center.  There is a fountain on the first floor level of each that can be seen and heard from all 7 floors of the temple.  The views from any floor of these two staircases are impressive looking up or down, especially since you can view 7 floors of colorful stained glass window.  The stained glass window is W shaped and has chipped glass so that more light is refracted into the temple.  The August 1974 Ensign states:

The colors near the ground are rich and vibrant - reds and oranges- but as they rise, they give way to clearer tones: blue, violet, and finally white.  According to Brother Henry Fetzer, the change in colors is symbolic of the purity and clarity that enters a person's life as he leaves earthly concerns and aspires toward heavenly matters.  The unbroken line of window rising continuously to the top of the temple is a reminder of the unbroken progress that is possible in the gospel.
Progression is also shown in the temple color scheme elsewhere.  The Ensign also states:
The interior colors also change.  Walnut paneling and deep blue give way to more and more white, with accents of gold.  The celestial room, with white walls and a white ceiling, is carpeted in a very pale apricot gold.  Plants provide the only other colors.

Many doors in this temple have door handles with a stylized version of the three towers on each side of the temple on them.  I like seeing custom door handles.  It is a nice touch.

The first floor used to have a cafeteria, but now it only has some vending machines.  You can get to the baptistry from here (down one floor in the basement and sub-basement) although I suspect that there is a separate baptistry entrance somewhere.  I liked the baptistry.  Originally it had nice blue carpet, but now it has been redone with golds and greens and stone (I assume faux) that looks really good.  I liked the original (first photo) and would have kept it, but the new finishes (second photo) are really nice so it is hard to complain much.
Washington D.C. Temple Baptismal Font
Washington D.C. Temple Baptismal Font
The third floor of the temple contains the clothing rental, dressing rooms, and brides' rooms.  A hallway runs from east to west connecting the main staircases.  The dressing rooms haven't been updated since the 70s (as the particular shade of blue lockers showed) and show some wear, but I suspect the lockers will be replaced soon enough.  This floor is mainly powder pink, as is most of the temple.

The fourth floor contains the endowment rooms and celestial room.  There are six endowment rooms around a centrally located celestial room.  There are only 3 other temples in the world with that many endowment rooms - Ogden Utah, Provo Utah, and Jordan River Utah.  The Washington D.C. Temple used to need that many rooms when it was the only temple for the eastern U.S. and Canada.  Now sessions run once an hour, but my middle of the day session had enough people to do the ordinances.  The endowment rooms are simple.  The back of the rooms have a lot of vertical lines which somewhat tie the room into the exterior architecture.  There also appeared to be a few translucent stone windows along the top of the back of the room.  The seating doesn't have a central aisle which is highly unusual for an LDS temple.  Men and women still sit on opposite sides of the room, but it is possible to sit next to someone of the opposite gender.  The white marble altar in the front has pointed arches cut into it.  Pointed arches are repeated throughout the temple. 
Washington D.C. Temple Endowment Room
The centrally located Celestial Room is quite large.  It takes up the center of the fourth floor and the middle of the fifth floor.  The room is oval shaped.  It doesn't have a central chandelier.  Instead it has 12 classic chandeliers around the perimeter of the room between 12 columns.  The square columns are uniquely shaped with their tops flaring into a modern version of a capital and forming pointed arches in the process.  They are done in marble (faux?) with gold ornamentation.  Mirrors surround the room.  As you walk in, you see several reflections of yourself due to the curved walls.  The carpet is intricately sculpted and the furniture feels elegant and fitting for Washington while not out of place with the modern elements.  The top has a dome with clouds in a blue sky painted on it.  You can see a better photo of this photo here.

Washington D.C. Temple Celestial Room
The fifth floor of the temple is not open because it just houses mechanical units (heating, etc.) and the upper portion of the celestial room takes up some of the space.

The sixth floor of the Washington D.C. Temple has the sealing rooms and sealing office.  I particularly like the oval sealing rooms (first photo) which have been redone, but still look really good.  The rectangular sealing rooms are also nice.  The altars are all white marble with pointed arches carved in.
Washington D.C. Temple Sealing Room
Washington D.C. Temple Sealing Room
Washington D.C. Temple Sealing Room
The seventh floor of the temple is a large priesthood assembly room.  Few temples have such rooms, and you can read about them in my post here.  The Washington D.C. Temple's pulpits (there are 24 in the room) mimic the style of the Salt Lake Temple pulpits.  Pointed arches appear on the backs of the stands in the solemn assembly room.
Washington D.C. Temple Priesthood Assembly Hall
The August 1974 Ensign magazine has numerous construction photos of the Washington D.C. Temple, as well as a section of the temple on pg. 12 and a plan of the sixth floor on page 18.  There are also numerous architectural sketches and a lot of explanation about the temple.  If you don't have that issue of the Ensign laying around, you can find it at the Church History Library when you are in Salt Lake.

I loved visiting this temple.  It is so grand, unique, symbolic, modern, and beautiful.  It truly is very good architecture and a wonderfully done temple.

I'd like to hear what you think about this temple, or anything that you might have to add, so please add you comments on this article below.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

LDS Temple Celestial Room Domes

I really like the use of domes in LDS Temple celestial rooms.  Many recent temples have included them, in addition to some older temples.

Both the St. Louis Missouri and Preston England Temples have domes in their celestial rooms.  The temples share the same floor plan, so this isn't too surprising.  Other temples with this style likely have domes.  I know that Boston has a small dome at the end of the room.  If I recall correctly it has clouds painted in a fake oculus.
St. Louis Missouri Temple Celestial Room
Preston England Temple Celestial Room

The first style of small temple had a few mentionable domes.  The Brisbane Australia Temple has a dome with cloud and sky scene and the Snowflake Arizona Temple has an elliptical dome with a sunburst pattern.  These temples are often criticized for being cookie-cutter.  The domes help add some garnish to the very nice cookies.

Brisbane Australia Temple Celestial Room Dome
Snowflake Arizona Temple Celestial Room Dome
The next style of small temple shared a common floor plan that almost always included a celestial room dome.  These temples were given many architectural distinctions to make them much less cookie-cutter.  The temple domes are differentiated with unique, detailed patterns.  All of these temples have a lot of detail.  I wasn't able to find pictures of them all, but here are the ones I could get:
Apia Samoa Temple Celestial Room Dome
Newport Beach California Temple Celestial Room Dome
Redlands California Temple Celestial Room Dome
Sacramento California Temple Celestial Room Dome
San Antonio Texas Temple Celestial Room Dome
The Draper Utah Temple was also given a dome.  I'm pretty sure this is a faux dome, painted to look like a dome.  It is really high up in the room so it is hard to tell, but I think the ceiling is actually flat or only very slightly curved.  The shading makes it look curved and makes it appear to be a dome.  I'm fine with that.  I also love the ring of Sego Lilies (Utah's state flower, which also fed starving pioneers) around the perimeter.
Draper Utah Temple Celestial Room Dome
Several older temples also have domes.  The Sao Paulo Brazil Temple has a dome with nice gold.  I don't know if this dome is original, or if it was added during a recent remodel.  I think it may be glass, but am unsure.
Sao Paulo Brazil Temple Celestial Room Dome
Other temples have had domes added.  For instance, the Boise Idaho Temple had a stained glass dome installed in its celestial room.  Pictures can be seen here.  From what I've seen. a lot of the six spire sloped roof 1980s temples had a central celestial room with an octagonal dome.  I've only seen Dallas' in person.  I liked it.

The Jordan River Utah Temple has an oval dome.  It is really simple with just some texture added like you sometimes see on vaulted ceilings in homes.  The Provo Utah and Ogden Utah Temple both have domes in their celestial rooms.  At least one of them is a dome with numerous ribs and a nice pattern.

The Orlando Florida Temple has a glass dome in its celestial room that can be seen here.

The Rexburg Idaho Temple has an elliptical dome with a wheat pattern painted on it.

I'm sure other temples have domes.  Please comment and let us know about other interesting Mormon Temple celestial room domes, or what you think about these.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

New Temple Announcements

So new temples were announced in General Conference for Kinshasa, Congo; Barranquilla, Columbia; Durban, South Africa; Star Valley, Wyoming; and Provo, Utah (which already has a temple, and will get a new one with the recently burned Tabernacle being rebuilt as a temple).  We were also reminded that the church is building a temple in Paris, France (which was announced about 2 months ago).

I'm excited for these temples.  I love that the continent of Africa is going from having 3 temples to 5 temples.  I also love that Star Valley, Wyoming (near Jackson Hole) is getting a temple.  I was up there about a month ago and found out that Afton, Wyoming has a Tabernacle.  Maybe the new temple will be built near that Tabernacle.  I am glad that Wyoming will finally have a temple.  I'd have guessed that a temple would be built near Casper so that it would be by Martin's Cove, but Star Valley probably has a larger Mormon population.

Then there is the Provo Temple.  Okay, that name is already taken by the Provo Temple.  Let's call it the Provo Tabernacle Temple (Provo Temple 2?).  I was reading various reactions to this new temple online and one commenter, who apparently reads this blog, mentioned The Trumpet Stone and wondered what I would think about the Second Provo Temple.  So I guess I'm obligated to give my opinion :).

I love the idea of turning the shell of the Tabernacle into a temple.  When the Tabernacle burned it was unclear what the church would do.  Tabernacles were the first stake centers (which is why when the modern stake centers were introduced in the 1950s or so the church stopped building Tabernacles).  Since that time, many Tabernacles have been torn down, but a lot have been preserved.  The preserved ones are used for stake conferences from time to time and for community meetings and special events such as concerts.  To fully restore the burned Provo Tabernacle would have been extremely expensive for a building that the church doesn't build anymore and whose function can be fulfilled by numerous other buildings in the city.  This meant that the church would be spending a lot for something they didn't need.  Making the Tabernacle into a temple gets around this problem because the money for restoration will also make the Tabernacle into something useful and needed, not superfluous (although historic and beautiful and great for the city).

Some have commented that they think it is too costly to make a temple out of a Tabernacle.  I've seen comments claiming that the church would never make a temple out of an existing structure after the Vernal Utah Temple because that temple cost too much.  These people seem unaware that the Copenhagen Denmark Temple and Manhattan New York Temple were both built out of existing structures after the Vernal Temple was completed.  Even if the church doesn't like remodeling existing structures into temples, the Provo Tabernacle Temple is a unique situation.  The interior has already been gutted for us.  To not build will involve the cost of demolition at the least.  This means that this temple remodel should be simpler than the other re-purposed temples and the cost shouldn't be prohibitive.

You can see a rendering of the new Provo Temple here.  You can also see it at  I like the rendering.  I read online that one person didn't like that they were adding the central tower.  I think the building has looked odd ever since they removed the original central tower in 1917.  The original tower was causing structural problems so they removed it, but this made the building look odd.  Later they removed the square base of the spire and went with a simple roof ridge.  This helped aesthetics a little, but the corner towers still looked like they were meant to have a companion.  The new temple central tower is a faithful reproduction of the original central tower (either lighter this time, or with stronger supports) with the addition of a statue of the Angel Moroni.  I'm guessing that the finials on the four corner towers weren't originally gold leafed, and I like that they will match the new statue of Moroni.  I also like the light color of the tower which helps the building feel like a light, bright, holy temple (similar to the two white tower tops on the Logan Temple that help overcome the dark stone of the main building).

I also like the use of brick on this temple.  Several other temples are made of brick including the Vernal Utah Temple (converted from a tabernacle), the Copenhagen Denmark Temple (converted from a chapel) and the Johannesburg South Africa Temple.  I like the red brick.  It reminds me of the blood of Christ.  It also reminds me of Nauvoo and the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo where the Temple Endowment was first given to a select few by Joseph Smith while the temple was being completed.  I also love the buttressing of the walls, the pointed arches, and the keystones and other prominent stones done in a lighter grey or white.  I like the stained glass windows (added when they removed the original spire) and it appears that they will be restoring the windows.  Since the central tower never would have had stained glass windows it will be interesting to see how they do those windows and if they use them to work in symbolism.

Another thing I like about this temple is that it will be the second (or third if you count the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple) temple with five towers (the Oakland California Temple also has five towers).  I am not the biggest fan of central tower temples, but I like the look with four complimentary corner towers.

I look forward to seeing how the interior of this temple will look.  The original tabernacle had an ornate interior.  I hope the copy a lot of the beautifully carved elements for the temple.  By the way, the church is adding ornately carved moldings to the Brigham City Temple.  You can see pictures in this article.  I hope similarly ornate work goes into the temple rooms.  Here is what the tabernacle interior used to look like.

It will also be interesting to see how they divide the interior into rooms.  I've never been in the original tabernacle, so I'm unsure just how much floorspace is available.  I'd assume that that the church will add an underground annex with dressing rooms and offices and perhaps a chapel so as much of the historic building as possible can be used for temple ordinances.

There are some of my thoughts on these new temples, and mainly on the Provo Tabernacle Temple.  Please comment and let us know what you think about these temples.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The New Two-Spire Temple Style

I love seeing the new renderings for LDS Temples.  This week the press leaked the rendering of the Payson Utah Temple (the church confirmed that this is indeed the temple rendering, but that it wasn't supposed to be released until next month).  The church also broke ground on the Trujillo Peru Temple and Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple this week.  Pictures can be seen here, or later in this post for Philadelphia.

The Payson Temple looks like it may be a modified version of the Draper Utah and Gilbert Arizona Temples, but it could be unique.  The Trujillo Peru Temple is clearly the same style as the Cordoba Argentina and Phoenix Arizona Temples.  Then there is the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple which is one of the new two-spire style temples along with the Kansas City Missouri Temple, Brigham City Utah Temple, Rome Italy Temple and at least one other temple that hasn't had its design publicly revealed.  As a refresher, here are renderings of these 4 temples:

Kansas City Missouri Temple Rendering

Brigham City Utah Temple Rendering

Rome Italy Temple Rendering

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple Rendering
The main element that ties all of these temples together is the use of two spires to represent the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods.  Many Mormon temples have used either two spires, or two sets of three spires to represent the Priesthoods.  It is nice to see this symbolism returning to temples.

I think this new style of temple is distinctly Mormon and iconic.  These temples are taller with 3-4 stories in addition to a basement.  Their shape accentuates their height, as do the twin spires.  I like the vertical soaring nature of these temples.  The first two make good use of detailed architectural precast concrete while Rome and Philadelphia appear to use stone.  Either way, the detailing is done well.

I like how the Kansas City Missouri Temple and Rome Italy Temple are both modern.  Rome seems more modern with its numerous curves, sleek design, and cutaway spire.  I think this was a good choice as Rome is so overwhelmed with classical and other architecture that it would have been difficult for the temple to stand out (in a good way) and not look contrived with classical or neoclassical architecture.  The Kansas City Temple, on the other hand, has a modern and somewhat simple exterior, but uses traditional pyramidal spires in addition to arches to visually link it to the Salt Lake and other pioneer temples.  This is fitting as it is being built where a lot of early church history occurred.

The Brigham City Utah Temple is obviously meant to look like a pioneer style temple.  The church has stated that it is a mix between the Salt Lake Temple, St. George Temple, Logan Temple, and Manti Temple.  This helps it fit in with the Box Elder Tabernacle across the street and with the history of the area.  At the same time, if you look at the temple closely you'll notice that it is a modern interpretation of the pioneer style.  Precast concrete is used.  Also, the way the spires taper, concrete details are recessed, and other elements of the building are shaped, are very modern.  Crenelations have been replaced by recessed triangles in the concrete panels.  The buttressing, although present, is somewhat subdued.  So I see the Brigham City Temple as a successful blend of the historic pioneer style temples and present day architecture.

The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple is now the most classical (really neo-classical) of these temples (or any for that matter).  It looks like it could easily be 200 years old, and not like a modern take on a 200 year old building.  This appears to be intentional.  It helps the temple fit in a very historical city.  In the rendering you can see that the temple borrows elements from the building across the street (I think a court building).  It will also fit in with a nearby Catholic cathedral and other architecture in the area.  The spires should seem familiar.  They definitely fit in with spires in the city.  I can see that the architects have obviously borrowed elements from the spire of Independence Hall, also in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were written and signed and where the Liberty Bell once hung.

I love the fine details of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple, and look forward to seeing them in more detail.  I love the fluted columns with Corinthian capitals (I hope they are unique capitals).  I like the mixture or rectangular and cylindrical columns and the clustering of columns at the front.  The window variety is also interesting.  I particularly like the elliptical windows along the fourth level.  There are other details such as the short parapet railing running along the roof line and repeated at two heights on each tower.    I also like the floral bunches (would you call this a wreath or a garland or something else?) on the towers and look forward to seeing what types of flowers are put into them.  I also look forward to seeing the fine details on the cornice.

I also like the large details of the temple.  The corners of the building have a weightier look that makes the building appear strong while at the same time making the center windows seem even more open and beautiful.  The first level is also made of massive blocks which gives it a weighty look.  This is a good architectural trick to give balance to an exterior and makes the temple look enduring.  The soaring spires, combined with the 4 stories and somewhat slender proportions, make the temple appear tall and grand in a great way.

I love the symbolism of this temple with its two spires based on Independence Hall.  This is fitting as Pennsylvania is where the U.S. government was set up with the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution which we believe to be inspired by God.  The spires represent the priesthoods and remind us that Pennsylvania is also where the government of God, the priesthood, was restored to the earth in 1829.  The Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood were restored to the earth by John the Baptist and Peter, James and John respectively near Harmony Pennsylvania.

The whole interior of this temple should be interesting.  The Manhattan New York Temple's interior would fit the exterior architecture perfectly.  It borrowed the neoclassical elements from the Salt Lake Temple.  I would be happy if the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple also borrowed interior elements from the Salt Lake Temple.  The murals could also show the area around Harmony, Pennsylvania where the priesthoods were restored and where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were baptized.  Depictions of the priesthood restorations and baptisms would be great in murals.  Much of the translation of The Book of Mormon also happened in this state and should at least show up in a painting.  Also, the Founding Fathers who met at Independence Hall appeared in the St. George Utah Temple to have their temple work done.  I would add a picture of that event somewhere in the temple.

I really like the new two-spire temple style and hope that the church uses it for a while.  I think it is the best style in a long time.  Please comment and let us know what you think about this style of temple, the individual temples, or anything else in this post.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

LDS Temple Glass - Trees

Stained glass and other forms of art glass are one of my favorite features in LDS Temples.  This art form was used in several early temples and then became very simple for a long period of time.  In the last 15 years or so, art glass use in temples has increased.  Windows are now made very unique.  A lot of windows depict things and are not purely geometric.  People, events, stars, suns, moons, and trees are depicted in temple windows.

In this post I will discuss how trees are depicted in LDS Temple art glass.  Trees are highly symbolic so it makes sense that they would be incorporated into sacred temple architecture.  The scriptures use trees symbolically and we should recognize what a specific tree might symbolize when we see a depiction of it.  Tom Holdman, who has done windows for the Palmyra New York, Nauvoo Illinois, San Antonio Texas, Winter Quarters Nebraska, Manhattan New York, Boise Idaho, Laie Hawaii, Rexburg Idaho, Draper Utah, and other temples often discusses symbolism he hides in his windows.  You might notice that all the tree windows I am highlighting were done by him.  So expect them to have hidden meaning.

I mentioned that trees have symbolic meanings.  Take for instance the following stained glass window in the rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple that depicts the baptism of Jesus.  Many artists would simply have added some vegetation.  Mr. Holdman has certainly added vegetation, but he has carefully chosen it to teach us more.  Those in tune with the spirit can thus be taught much more deeply than would otherwise be the case.  Two trees are depicted.  On the left is a fig tree and on the right is an olive tree.  Figs may remind us of the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve made aprons of fig leaves to hide their nakedness.  They might also remind us of the story when Jesus cursed a fig tree (shortly before his death) because it had leaves but no fruit.  We might remember Jesus' words "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16).  In fact, if you search the scriptures, you will find that figs mean a lot.  Olives similarly have great meaning.  We might think of the parable of the Olive Tree in Jacob in The Book of Mormon.  Or perhaps we will think of olive oil used in blessings, or the olive as a symbol of Israel (just like the 12 oxen also in the baptistry).  My point is that using trees in this window adds a lot of meaning.
Nauvoo Illinois Temple Baptistry Stained Glass Window
Another notable use of trees is in the Palmyra New York Temple.  This temple overlooks the Sacred Grove, a forest where God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith.  Because of this, the temple windows are meant to depict trees to remind us of the Sacred Grove.  One window features The First Vision.  Others generally represent the grove.  The trees are again used symbolically.  Most windows have 7 trees with the number 7 representing perfection, holy things, etc.  Meanwhile, the front door has 5 trees.  This is meant to represent the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil from the Garden of Eden.  This tree is important in scripture and symbolically as we enter the temple and go through this symbolic door we can be reminded that we have all entered mortality just like Adam and Eve and we have things to learn.  The Celestial Room has a central tree that represents the Tree of Life.  There are other symbols (numerical and other) that will be discussed when I write about this temple, but for now here are some pictures.
Palmyra New York Temple First Vision Stained Glass Window
Palmyra New York Temple Baptistry with Tree Windows
Palmyra New York Temple Celestial Room with Tree of Life Windows
Palmyra New York Temple Sealing Room with Tree Windows
  The Tree of Life has similarly been used in other temples.  It appears in the Winter Quarters Nebraska and San Antonio Texas temples' stained glass windows.  It also appears in other temples.
Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple Celestial Room with Tree of Life Windows
San Antonio Texas Temple Sealing Room with Tree of Life Window
Several temples have interesting stylized trees.  The Manhattan New York Temple has tree windows in the Terrestrial Room, in the Celestial Room, and in the Sealing Rooms.  The Sealing Room windows are very interesting because they show two trees with roots intertwining and branches intertwining.  This is an interesting window for a room where couples are married for eternity and children are sealed to their parents.  This is done for the living and on behalf of the deceased.  Fruit is also used symbolically in the sealing room window.  The Laie Hawaii Temple has similar stylized trees in its recently added baptistry windows.
Manhattan New York Temple Celestial Room with Tree Windows
Manhattan New York Temple Sealing Room with Tree Window
Laie Hawaii Temple Baptistry Tree Window
I previously mentioned the Winter Quarters Temple.  It has other tree windows.  You can read about those in my post on that temple.

I also already mentioned the San Antonio Temple and its Tree of Life window in a sealing room.  There are other depictions of trees including the stunning Celestial Room windows that make us think about the future Celestial kingdom whose Edenic glory will eclipse the original garden's grandeur.  The Boise Idaho Temple also recently received a stained glass dome with trees in its celestial room.  This can be seen here.
San Antonio Texas Temple Window with Trees
San Antonio Texas Temple Celestial Room with Tree Windows
That's my list of trees in Mormon Temple stained and art glass windows.  I likely missed some and you can discuss them in the comments section.  I also haven't spelled out all the symbolism and don't know it all so feel free to discuss that in the comments section as well.  Or just comment on these beautiful windows.  They are wonderful treasures in our temples.