Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kirtland Temple Symbols - Overview

I am trying to find the meanings for each of the symbols used in the Kirtland Temple.  Many of the decorative carvings used in the Kirtland Temple look like they are just decorative, and I suspect many are purely decorative.  I also know that many of the symbols have added meaning.  Here are some symbols.  I will rIt is true that merely having more decoration on the main floor and in particular on the Melchizedek Priesthood side is symbolic even if the individual decorative carvings were not.  Here are pictures highlighting symbols you may have overlooked:

I do want to credit this site: for giving me some information and the labyrinth picture.  I also got the drawings from this page.

If any of you know what these symbols mean, please comment.  I know only a few of their meanings.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Salt Lake Temple Symbolic Progression

One of the best parts of the older temples is the use of symbolic progression as one moves through the temple.  When you move from endowment room to endowment room the architecture of each room can be designed to compliment the endowment ceremony in meaningful ways.  I want to explain how some of this is achieved in the Salt Lake Temple.  Each room in the Salt Lake Temple is more than the previous room.  It symbolizes that as we progress in the gospel we become more.  We become better people, we gain more skills, we become more righteous and holy.  We become closer to God and we become more like Him.  I'm just going to show pictures of each endowment room and explain how it achieves this.

The Creation Room:
Salt Lake Temple Creation Room

Originally the creation room didn't even have murals (they were added many years later).  The lighting is very simple (newer lighting has been installed in the last few years, but it still has the simplest lighting).  There are no staircases and no natural light.  Also notice that there isn't even an altar in the room.  Although a nice, moving room, the creation room is very simple.  It is also the lowest in elevation (in the basement) and has the lowest ceilings of the endowment rooms.  This is the first endowment room in the temple.  It is our starting point - the creation of the earth and mankind.  The murals in the creation room also show progression from a disorganized world, to land and seas being formed, to plants being formed.  It is somewhat interesting that no animals are shown in the murals in the creation room despite the fact that animals were created during the creation.  This is used as a way to show progression in the garden room. 

The Garden Room:
Salt Lake Temple Garden Room

The next endowment room in the Salt Lake Temple is the Garden Room.  This room represents The Garden of Eden.  To get to the room, patrons go up a small rise from the creation room (a few feet).  The room is now larger and taller.  There are more lights are each is more ornate (in the picture they are slightly more involved, newly installed lights are really nice) and there is a large light at the top where the ceiling is recessed (recently upgraded with clear art glass incorporating sego lilies).  An altar is present, and although nice, is simpler than other altars in the temple.  3 staircases are now present although they are short and fairly simple.  Originally this would have had a small greenhouse behind the curtains that can be seen in the photo.  This would have brought natural light into the room.  Also notice that the door has glass on the top half and filling the arch above.  The murals now show the Garden of Eden in idyllic splendor with nice plants and animals all getting along.  Adding animals shows progression from the creation room.

 The Grand Staircase:

Grand Staircase, Salt Lake Temple
Upon leaving the garden room, patrons exit (if I recall correctly going down 1 step symbolizing the fall) onto a landing and then go up the grand staircase.  This is a fitting symbol of progression.  A stained glass window of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden is also seen. 

Grand Staircase, Salt Lake Temple
This staircase brings patrons to the first floor of the temple where they will enter the world room.  As they go up the staircase, the doors to the celestial room are visible before patrons turn to enter the world room.  This gives a glimpse of things to come. As a side note, Jesus Christ appeared to President Lorenzo Snow at the top of this staircase and told him he was to be the next prophet and to reorganize the first presidency.

 The Telestial or World Room:
Salt Lake Temple World Room

This room represents the fallen world that we all live in, yet at the same time it has to symbolize a progression.  The fallen state of the world is shown through fighting animals, trees competing for space or dying, a river eroding a hillside, etc.  The progression is shown in many ways.  Tall windows let natural light flood into the room.  In addition, the chandeliers are now clusters of ball lights instead of single lights.  The altar is more ornate.  The doors are taller.  The staircase is now more detailed and quite a bit taller.  The entire room is more spacious.  Also notice that the doors now have significantly more glass than in the garden room.  The color scheme is also slightly lighter than the garden room.  The murals also show progression because although representing a fallen world, they are more interesting than those in the garden room with more going on.  Notice that to leave this room one goes up a slight rise.

The Terrestrial Room:
Salt Lake Temple Terrestrial Room (back)
Salt Lake Temple Terrestrial Room (front)

Patrons go straight from the world room to the terrestrial room.  This room represents the Terrestrial Kingdom of God (2nd highest of 3 heavens) or the better world we can experience while still alive if we follow God's commandments.  The room shows obvious progression with ornate chandeliers, moldings, columns, details window arches, a Tiffany art glass window, a nice altar, this time surrounded with a large platform.  A staircase is also present with intricate carvings on it.  The color scheme of the room is the brightest yet with pastel blue and pink and cream.  A large painting is hung in this room (the temple rotates which painting hangs here so I can't say which one), usually of Jesus Christ as a fitting symbol of the only way to attain this state and more even further in life and towards life with God.  Interestingly, the chandeliers were originally clusters of ball lights like those seen in the world room.  This made it so the lights followed one theme and got nicer.  Also, the windows used to let natural light in, but have since been blocked by the sealing room annex (a hallway is now on the other side of the windows).  The terrestrial room is taller, larger, and higher than previous rooms.  Like the other rooms, the architecture here shows us that as we progress in the gospel and follow God's plan we increase in every way.  You might also notice that above the stained glass window there is a detailed carving with flowers and I think fruit, a small hint of what is to come in the celestial room.

The Celestial Room:
Salt Lake Temple Celestial Room

The endowment ceremony always ends in the celestial room, no matter the temple.  In the Salt Lake Temple, the celestial room's architecture is used in an effective way to reinforce the teachings of the endowment.  The room is the largest, highest, tallest, and most ornate of the endowment rooms.  The lighting now consists of eight chandeliers with clusters of more ornate pointed lights (instead of spheres).  Windows and Tiffany art glass windows along the top are also used to bring in light.  Mirrors and glass are used a lot.  Columns, arches, etc. are all far more ornate than in the terrestrial room.  Also, along the ceiling there is a lot of carved fruit and flowers.  Vines, trophies, flowers, etc. are painted on the walls.  Birds are carved into the walls.  The color scheme is bright and glorious with gold details.  When I first went to the Salt Lake Temple I didn't know how the terrestrial room's architecture could be outdone (and I had seen pictures of the celestial room).  Then I stepped into the celestial room and saw how much nicer a room could get.  It is breathtakingly beautiful with so many intricate details.  It is a wonderful representation of the highest heaven where we can dwell with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.  No picture does this room justice.

Although not endowment rooms, the sealing rooms and Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake Temple continue the theme of progression.  Notice that from the celestial room you can see (and walk into if you want) the sealing rooms.  To enter each you go up either 2 steps or up a short staircase.  The staircase has a cupid statue as a symbol of love.  Each sealing room is even more ornate than the celestial room, and two of them contain art glass windows.  The sealing rooms have the most ornate altars and have high ceilings.  This shows that as we are married for eternity in temples, and sealed together as eternal families, we grow, progress, fulfill God's plan, and become qualified to enter the highest part of the highest heaven.  In the photo, the second doorway from the right (next to the open sealing room) leads into the Holy of Holies.  This room is the most ornate of all with a short staircase leading from the doorway to another doorway into the room.  The room has a tall dome with art glass windows along the top and a stained glass window of the First Vision.  You can see a picture of it in my post on temple stained glass windows here

I love how the architecture of the Salt Lake Temple has been used to give a progression with patrons moving higher from room to more ornate/tall/spacious/bright/light/detailed/etc. room.  I love how the endowment feels when presented in this way.  Unfortunately, most temples have patrons in a single endowment room for the entire ceremony and then finally entering the celestial room.  This gives these temple their own unique ways to symbolize the progression (generally through the lights getting turned on brighter partway through the ceremony), but I think the temples with 4 endowment rooms before the celestial room are able to show this best.  In my opinion, the Salt Lake Temple does this best with the most areas of progression used.

Please comment and let me know what you think.  If there are details you noticed that I didn't mention, or other insights you had, please comment and let us all know.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wheat as a Temple Symbol

When you think of Latter-day Saint temple architectural symbols you usually think of the sun, moon and star stones.  Perhaps you think of the Angel Moroni.  One symbol you might overlook is wheat.  Several temples are adorned with wheat designs.  These can represent many things, including:

- Christ is the bread of life.  We need to be constantly nourished spiritually by him.
- A reminder about the parable of the wheat and the tares and that we need to be the righteous wheat that is safely gathered in.
- Preparedness.
- A reminder that the earth is "white, already to harvest" and that there is a need for missionary work.
- A reminder of the gathering of Israel just as wheat is gathered in from a field.

There are many more ways that wheat is used in our religion and many interpretations of its use in temple architecture can be found.  Here is my list of temples using a wheat design:

Cardston Alberta / Edmonton Alberta Temples (maybe)

Both of these share the same symbol (Edmonton copied it from Cardston because they are in the same province).  I've read that the symbol is the three hollyhocks, but I have since noticed that they don't resemble hollyhocks.  I've also read that the Edmonton Temple has wheat on its front so I assume it is this symbol.  I haven't seen pictures of this symbol on the Cardston Temple but assume it is there because the Flickr user said it was copied from the Cardston Temple for the Edmonton Temple.  If you know any more on this, please comment and let us know.

Seattle Washington Temple
The Seattle Temple has wheat designs in the cast stone panels sheathing the building.  The relief sculptures are huge staffs or wheat.  The narrow, tall, pointed windows enhance the wheat theme.

Rexburg Idaho Temple
The Rexburg Temple uses wheat in several ways.  First, the columns are made to look like stylized wheat.  Secondly, and most obviously, the stained glass windows throughout the temple are filled with wheat patterns that get fuller as you rise in the temple.  Third, other decorative details such as painted wall details, sculpted carpets, and metal details on the staircases have a wheat pattern.

San Antonio Texas Temple
The stained glass in the San Antonio Temple includes details of wheat.

I thought that the Manhattan Temple had glass panels on the exterior of wheat, but I've noticed that they don't quite match wheat and I read (on untrustworthy wikipedia) that they are representing flowing water.  I'm not sure what they are, but if any of you know, please let me know.  I would like them to be wheat, but if not that is also okay.  Whatever they are, I think if they were added on the other side (around the corner) the building would look better.  On the interior it is ornate, but the exterior is rather plain.

Those are the temples that I have found that use wheat as a symbol.  If you know of other temples that use wheat as a symbol, please comment and tell us about it.  If you know more details about some of these wheat symbols, write a comment and let us know.

In the press releases for some of these temples it was noted that wheat was used because of the agriculture in the area.  That is nice and great; however, since wheat is very clearly a symbol throughout the scriptures I think we should not discount its use in temples as just to blend in with the area.

Calgary Alberta Canada Temple
My original post didn't mention this, but the Calgary Temple, currently under construction, is using wheat in the stained glass and other details.  Please read the first comment on this post for more information.  You can look at a rendering here. Wheat can clearly be seen in the glass and stone details.

Nauvoo Illinois Temple 
My original post didn't mention this temple; however, I was just today looking at interior photos of the temple and bundles of wheat are carved into the door moldings.

The Kyiv Ukraine Temple also has wheat depicted in the baptistry stained glass, celestial room, and elsewhere.

The Laie Hawaii Temple has stylized wheat in the art glass windows.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unique Sealing Rooms

Today I'm just going to show some pictures and short commentary about what I consider are the most unique or interesting sealing rooms in Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  These rooms are used for temple marriages where a man and woman are married for time and all eternity and where children can be sealed to them for eternity.

The pioneer temple sealing rooms:

The St. George Utah Temple has a number of unique sealing rooms.  One is up a small staircase in the celestial room (in the tower).  Most of the sealing rooms are on an upper floor and have a single round window going into each room.  To me, the round window just makes the room feel unique.

Orig. Logan Temple Sealing Rm
The original Logan Utah Temple interior had a sealing room (shown to the left) with gold leafed walls and a stained glass window.  It is extremely unfortunate that when the temple was remodeled the room and wall covering was lost.  I think the gold leaf was lost because it was applied to plaster walls and so it couldn't be removed and brought to the new temple (I know that is what happened to at least most of the Logan Temple murals).

Manti Temple Sealing Room
The Manti Utah Temple has many wonderful ornate sealing rooms.  My favorite is a small one off the celestial room (that isn't used any more).  I've been told that this room was the Holy of Holies until the Salt Lake Temple was completed.  Then it was a sealing room for decades.  Apparently President Hinckley wanted to preserve the room and thought it was extra special so he had the room stop being used for sealings.  This could be a rumor, although I think it was a sealer that told me this.  The room is beautiful with an arched ceiling and intricate gold patterns and detailed woodwork.  The door is left open, but roped off so you can see it but not go all the way in now.  It is also very small, with maybe room for 5 or 10 people to witness the sealing.

Salt Lake Temple SE Sealing Room
Salt Lake Temple SW Sealing Room
The Salt Lake Temple has many nice sealing rooms.  Originally it just had 3 sealing rooms.  Two were on either side of the Holy of Holies, just off the celestial room.  The last was up a small staircase on the east side of the celestial room.  The intricate craftsmanship in these rooms is wonderful to see.  The sealing rooms flanking the Holy of Holies have stained glass windows.  Still, my favorite of the three is at the top of the stairs off the celestial room, in the east center tower of the temple.  I love that the staircase leading to this room has a cupid statue on the bottom rail post.  This is a fitting symbol for the room where a man and a woman are married for time and all eternity.  These rooms definitely are unique.

The dark wood sealing rooms:

Cardston Alberta Temple Sealing Room
The Cardston Alberta Canada Temple is the first temple I know of with dark wood sealing rooms.  This temple used extensive woodwork with intricate inlays using woods imported from around the world.  As you progress in the temple the wood becomes more expensive, lush, an more intricately inlaid.  This means that the celestial room is covered in really nice dark woods.  The sealing rooms also end up dark with really involved inlays. I like this.  It is so different from the usual white sealing room, while still being nice.
Cardston Alberta Temple Sealing Room
I know of only one other temple with dark woodwork in the sealing rooms.  This is the Oakland California Temple.  At least one (although not all) of the Oakland Temple sealing rooms is done in dark wood as seen in the picture below.  I like the dark wood and think it would contrast nicely with the white clothing worn in the temple.  I also like how here the altar glows in a bright contrast to the darker walls.
Oakland California Temple Sealing Room
I have not been in any of the dark wood sealing rooms.  If any of you have, please comment and tell us what they are like and what you think of them.  Also, if you know of any dark wood sealing rooms that I haven't mentioned, please write and let us know about them.

San Antonio Texas Temple Tree of Life Sealing Room

I was going to write about barrel vaulted ceiling rooms, which would also include the Las Vegas Nevada Temple sealing rooms, but I decided to just focus on the best of the group.  The San Antonio Texas Temple sealing room with a stained glass window of the tree of life is inspiring.  The brightness and whiteness of the room seems to be enhanced by the colors of the tree of life window.  Utah artist Tom Holdman did the stained glass windows for the entire temple and did a wonderful job in my opinion.

Washington D.C. Temple Oval Sealing Room
Washington D.C. Temple Sealing Room
Since I am talking about unique sealing rooms I have to mention this sealing room in the Washington D.C. Temple.  I love the oval shape of the room, the metallic wall covering (wall paper or metallic paint or something) that makes the walls shine.  I also find the oval altar interesting.
Washington D.C. Temple Sealing Room (another view)
So that is my list of the most unique sealing rooms.  There are so many more nice sealing rooms that you can tell us about in the comments.  I'll leave you with a picture of one of the Hong Kong China Temple sealing rooms.  I like it mainly because it has elliptical windows, which is just cool.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Latter-day Saint Temple Stained Glass - Scenes with People

The topic of temple stained glass windows is so large that I have avoided writing about it.  This is unfortunate, because Latter-day Saint temples have a rich history of using stained (and art) glass windows in various styles and ways.  To make the topic manageable, today I'll just talk about scriptural scenes (with one exception).  This post is limited to stained glass scenes of people so it does not include representations of the Tree of Life, which is also common in temple windows, nor does it cover stained glass stars, etc.  Even so, stained glass windows showing people in scriptural or other scenes have been used in many temples and should be an interesting topic.

The Salt Lake Temple
Adam & Eve leave Garden of Eden, Salt Lake Temple
There are 3 scriptural stained or art glass scenes in the Salt Lake Temple.  These were made in New York and are Tiffany glass.  The first scene is Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden.  It shows an angel holding a flaming sword guarding the way to the Tree of Life.  This window was originally seen as you left the garden room and headed to the world room and so it was exactly in place with the endowment ceremony.  At some point it was moved and now you notice it just after you exit the celestial room.  I think the original placement was better and should be restored.

Moroni Giving Plates, Sealing Room, SL Temple
The next stain glass windows are in the sealing room to the right (west) of the Holy of Holies.  This is the sealing room on the west end of the celestial room.  The sealing room contains a stained glass window of Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates The Book of Mormon was translated from from the Angel Moroni.
In person, the window is much more impressive.

First Vision Stained Glass, Holy of Holies, Salt Lake Temple

The final scriptural stained glass window in the Salt Lake Temple is in the Holy of Holies.  This stained glass scene is of the First Vision, where God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in answer to his prayer.  This is a very fitting work of art for the room where the prophet can go to seek revelation on how to run the church.  I've never seen this, because you aren't allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, but I have included a picture.  Also, you can see the window from the other side where it goes into either the sealing office or a hall off the sealing office.

Windows by Tom Holdman
Utah stained glass artist Tom Holdman has a lot of experience doing stained glass for the church in numerous temples.  Some of these are geometric, others are nature scenes, and a few are scriptural including the following windows in the Palmyra New York Temple, Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple, Nauvoo Illinois Temple, Sao Paulo Brazil Temple, and Manhattan New York Temple.

The Palmyra New York Temple
Palmyra Temple First Vision Window
The Palmyra New York Temple is filled with stained glass depictions of nature - mainly the sacred grove and tree of life.  The first window commissioned  by the church was one of the First Vision and it is in the lobby.  Tom Holdman convinced the church to let him do all the windows in the temple (by coming up with private donations to pay for them) and he did a wonderful job of filling them with symbolic stained glass trees.

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple
Winter Quarters Temple Lobby Art Glass
This temple was built in a suburb of Omaha where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pioneers camped for a year while heading to Salt Lake. The Church News reported about the window:
Similarly, the Winter Quarters temple site is sanctified by the interment nearby of the remains of Latter-day Saints of the 1840s and 1850s who, in the words of William Clayton's now world-famous hymn, died before their journey was through.

A depiction of Elder Clayton's writing of that hymn while camped with the Pioneers on the plains of Iowa, "Come, Come, Ye Saints," is included among 18 stained-glass art scenes that tell the story of the epic gathering of Zion by way of Winter Quarters. The artist, a member of the Highland 6th Ward, Highland Utah Stake, said he had a recording of the hymn playing continuously as he formed the William Clayton scene. Thus inspired, he was able to portray Elder Clayton with a pleasant countenance, "happy to be a Saint." (Indeed, Brother Clayton was jubilant, having learned that morning of the birth of his son back in Nauvoo.)

But sadness mitigated by hope is depicted as well in the window scenes. A father and mother are shown in winter walking away from the grave where they have buried a loved one, he supporting her in their mutual grief. The shovel he carries points toward the grave site. Near the grave grows a tree, laden with fruit. Yes, it is an unseasonable element in a winter scene, but intended so: It depicts the tree of life, symbolizing the hope of exaltation and eternal life for those who die in the Lord. (See Doctrine and Covenants 42:45-46.)

Other art scenes in the stained-glass panels depict the wooden roadometer the pioneers fashioned to measure their travel; the building of cabins at Winter Quarters; Brigham Young signing papers calling for the Mormon Battalion enlistment; pioneers crossing the Elkhorn River; the chief of the Omaha Indians, who showed kindness to the Pioneers at Winter Quarters; the log tabernacle at Kanesville, on the Iowa side of the river, where Brigham Young was sustained as president of the Church in December 1847; and the handcart pioneers.

One of the art scenes is a portrait of President Young himself. "Personally, I think it's the best thing I have ever done in my life," Brother Holdman said of the portrait, which depicts President Young as a figure of strength and fortitude. "Here, he has all of these people stretched out across the plains. People are dying; people are asking him, 'What should we do to survive?' He had to be going through a lot, don't you think?"
Winter Quarters Temple Sealing Room Art Glass
Although the Church News doesn't mention it, another scene is found in a stained glass window in a sealing room. In the center pane is an image of parents with children, a wonderful symbol in the room where husband and wife are married for eternity and children are sealed to them for eternity.

The Nauvoo Illinois Temple (rebuilt)
Baptism of Jesus in Nauvoo Temple Baptistery
The newly rebuilt Nauvoo Temple contains a wonderful stained glass scene of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the baptistery. The window is just behind the font and was also done by Tom Holdman.  John the baptist is shown in camels hair clothing as stated in the Bible and the Holy Ghost is seen in the form of a dove.

The Sao Paulo Brazil Temple (remodeled)
Christ Visiting Nephites, Sao Paulo Temple
When the Sao Paulo Temple was remodeled the church added several stained and art glass windows.  In the lobby a scriptural scene was made by Tom Holdman showing Jesus Christ appearing to the Nephites at the temple in the land Bountiful after his resurrection.  It is a reminder to patrons as they enter and leave the temple that Christ has visited the Americas and did and still does care about their people.

The Manhattan New York Temple
Christ and Apostles on Road to Emmaus, Manhattan Temple
On the first floor of the Manhattan Temple is a stained glass scene done in an older style showing Christ with two apostles on the road to Emmaus.  This window was also done by Tom Holdman.

The Snowflake Arizona Temple
Christ and Children, Snowflake Temple
I find it interesting that the Snowflake Arizona Temple has a stained glass window so similar to the one in the Manhattan Temple.  The Snowflake window was originally in a church for a different faith in the eastern U.S. and was purchased at an auction and then installed in the temple.  It shows Christ  surrounded by children, caring for and teaching them.  More information on the window can be found here.

The Redlands California Temple
First Vision, Redlands Temple
Just behind the recommend desk of the Redlands California Temple is a stained glass window of the First Vision.  The window has an interesting history.  Here is an excerpt from the Church News story.
After the first chapel was built in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1933, a large art glass window depicting the First Vision and over a dozen small windows or icons showing various aspects of Church history were installed. . . . 

In 1960, it was deemed necessary to sell the building — windows and all — because it had no off-street parking for the growing wards.
Once the building was sold, San Bernardino Ward Bishop Charles W. Eastwood tried to buy the First Vision window but the pastors of the Protestant faith that had bought the building would not allow its removal. Finally, in 1978, after repeated requests, a new pastor allowed it to be taken if it would be replaced with amber glass.
Some time later, the icons were also obtained and put into storage.
Brother Eastwood and his wife, Laurie, became the custodians of the window and began to search for an artisan to restore the dirty and broken panes of art glass. Sister Eastwood, daughter of famous Latter-day Saint artist Minerva Teichert, had a special interest to see these works of art preserved. . .
The First Vision window was finally installed in the Pacific Chapel in San Bernardino and unveiled on March 7, 1979.
When the Redlands California Temple was announced, Sister Eastwood initiated efforts to obtain the window for permanent display in the temple.
"I felt impressed that this exquisite piece of art should be in the temple," recounted Sister Eastwood. "In the temple thousands will enjoy its beauty and message."
The icons have also now been restored by John Heiss of the Upland California Stake. . .
If anyone reading this has pictures of the other windows in the Redlands Temple that show church history, please let me know and how to get them.  I've found a few here.  I'm very glad that we were able to save and use these stained glass windows and that we have such great stained glass in the Redlands Temple.

Well there you have it.  Those are the stained glass windows depicting scenes with people that I know about in Latter-day Saint Temples.  If you know of any temples that I missed, please comment and let me know.  Also, if you know of any pictures of these stained glass scenes, please let us know where they are and how to get them.

I hope the church continues to occasionally add stained glass scriptural scenes in temples.  The really do add to the experience of the temple and remind us of important parts of the scriptures.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Original Salt Lake Temple Annex Building

Original Salt Lake Temple Annex Building

There are and have been several annexes to the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently there is a sealing room annex or addition. This is the portion of the temple attached to the main temple on the north that juts out and is filled with sealing rooms. I’m not talking about that building. There is also an annex north of the temple that is a separate building that you enter to go in the temple. This annex contains the dressing rooms and a chapel that looks similar to a miniature Salt Lake Temple. I'm not talking about that building. This post is about the annex that the current annex replaced.
Original Salt Lake Temple Annex Interior

Originally one would enter the Salt Lake Temple from an annex on the north where the current annex stands. The annex was done with the same symbols as the Salt Lake Temple (and I think in the same stone). It had stars and small spires in the same style as the Salt Lake Temple. The main difference from the Salt Lake Temple was that the annex was done in a Victorian version of a Byzantine style, similar to Greek Orthodox churches. Arches and domes and curves were used in a way not seen in the Salt Lake Temple. Stained glass was also used. As time went by, the Salt Lake Temple became busier. The small capacity of the annex, and the fact that its style didn’t perfectly match the Salt Lake Temple probably led to it being replaced by the current annex in the 1960s. I wish I could have seen the original annex and could use it. I think its architecture is more interesting than the current annex (and I like the current annex). I understand that it didn't match the temple or meet the needs of the church.
On a side note, after the original annex was torn down, but before the current annex was completed, the North Visitors Center on Temple Square was used for a short time as a temporary annex to the Salt Lake Temple (it was even dedicated as a temporary annex). This is the visitor's center that currently holds the Christus statue. Once the current annex was completed, the visitor's center was turning into a visitor's center.

I would like to see the old annex rebuilt somewhere else. I think it would make an excellent style for a small temple. The architectural style could also be used for a medium or large sized temple. The history of the building makes it a good choice for a new temple style. Also, I think the annex is very attractive, interesting, unique, and beautiful. I'm fine if a temple was just done in the style of the annex while not being an exact replica. If we ever build a temple in Greece or Turkey or another country with Byzantine or Greek influences, I think patterning the temple on the original Salt Lake Temple annex would be an excellent decision.

Please comment and let everyone know what you think about the original Salt Lake Temple annex, or other temple annexes, or patterning future temples on buildings that have been torn down.

Latter-day Saint Temple Courtyards and Atriums

Temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are usually surrounded with beautiful gardens giving a place for anyone to sit and enjoy the temple and the beauty of nature.  A few temples have an atrium or courtyard giving a special experience.  I want to discuss a few of these and hope that you will comment and tell me about any temples that I've missed.

The Portland Oregon Temple
I loved it when I went to the Portland Oregon Temple and found a small atrium just inside the front doors.  In the photo to the left (from Google Maps) the atrium is on the north (top) of the temple.  It is those two sections with a glass roof in between a spire and a small dome.  The atrium was really nice and was open to the public.  This came in handy for me as I was able to show it to a friend who isn't a Latter-day Saint.  Non-members frequently feel left out of the temple, and having this nice garden that we let them go into is a way to help them feel welcome.  The temple atrium is filled with beautiful plants.  Pictures of the atrium can be seen here, here, here, and here.

The Las Vegas Nevada Temple
The Las Vegas Nevada Temple uses the same floor plan as the Portland Oregon Temple and consequently it also has an interior garden.  This time I'm calling it a courtyard because it is open air.  In the areal photo the courtyard is around the spire with the Angel Moroni (this is on the right center of the photo.  That green patch is a bunch of plants in a beautiful garden including fountains.  While the grounds are also beautiful and filled with gardens, the courtyard, by its enclosed nature, is a quieter garden to sit in and contemplate.  Again it is open to the public.  I couldn't find pictures of the interior (and unfortunately I didn't take any photos on my several visits to this temple).

The San Diego California Temple
Unfortunately, I have never been to the San Diego California Temple.  I have read about it and know that it has an atrium.  In the photo on the left the atrium is between the two towers and is an eight sided star shape (technically the symbol is The Seal of Melchizedek).  From what I've read, the atrium is just outside the Celestial Room (possibly by the sealing rooms?).  For this reason, it is not open to the public but provides a wonderful scenic garden to inspire patrons to the temple.


Bountiful Utah Temple
The first temple I ever went inside was the Bountiful Utah Temple.  I went there for the temple open house before I was 12.  I have since been there many times.  One unique feature of this temple is the courtyard/atrium near the baptistery.  It is underground, yet open air.  On the level above cars can drive around the atrium making it the center of a sort of round about.  In the picture it is the center of the circle on the top.  If you park in the underground parking  lot you enter the temple just before the atrium and then walk around the atrium and finally get to the recommend desk, meaning this atrium is open to the general public.  Here is a picture of it.  Here is another showing how it is beautiful even in the winter.  The atrium is circular with glass all around.  I always loved going to the Bountiful Temple to do baptisms because I got to walk around this atrium.

The Salt Lake Temple (a long while ago)
Most people don't realize that the Salt Lake Temple used to have a greenhouse built in.  The room was attached to the garden room.  In fact, early plans of the temple had the entire garden room as a greenhouse attached to the temple on one side.  Real plants were planned to fill the room making it a literal garden.  The completed temple had the garden room inside the temple with a painted mural of the Garden of Eden.  The garden room originally also had a greenhouse attached to it seen here allowing real plants to be in the garden room.  The greenhouse is on the right side of the photo.  You will need to look closely as it isn't very big and resembles a small shack attached to the temple.  Ultimately this is probably the best use of a temple atrium because it is used to reinforce and facilitate the teachings of the endowment.  Architecturally it never quite matched the temple exterior, which is probably why it was removed.  I think it would have been nice to be in the garden room and look forward to where there are 3 arches up a few stairs with curtains in front of them (if you've been in the room you should know what I'm talking about), and have these areas open and leading to a naturally lit garden with real plants.  I think it would add a lot to the temple ceremony and provide a wonderful representation of the Garden of Eden.  I think it would be nice to add the greenhouse again.  It could be made to resemble the sealing room annex on the north of the temple, only with more glass.  I think this would work and is how the Salt Lake Temple was intended.  (I added the photo next to this paragraph which makes the greenhouse much easier to see).
The Oakland California Temple
From what I've read and seen in pictures, I understand that the Oakland California Temple has a courtyard garden enclosed on 3 sides.  In the picture this is on the north (top).  I mentioned in an earlier post that the courtyard has sculptures including this one (I like dogs by the way).  The sculptures are looking towards one of the two relief sculptures of Jesus Christ teaching.  I like the idea of this partially enclosed sculpture garden as an area to contemplate Christ and the temple.

Those are the temples that I know have (or had) an atrium or courtyard.  I think several others used to have them before additions took over the courtyards.  With our current focus on small temples, I don't expect to see many more of these, although the Rome Italy Temple complex forms a square garden between the temple, visitor's center, stake center, and family history center.  I think several other temples have this type of setup that creates a more private garden.  I do hope that we occasionally see an atrium or courtyard in a new temple.  The high school I attended had numerous small gardens with a single tree surrounded by glass that went into 2-3 classrooms and a hallway.  This brought a lot of natural light into the rooms and was really nice.  This idea could be used even in our smaller temples as it would only require a small space.

Please comment and let us all know what you think about temple atriums, courtyards, and enclosed gardens.  If you know of any I've missed please comment as well.