Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple Symbols - Sunstones

The Sun has been used as a temple symbol from the second Latter-day Saint temple, the Nauvoo Temple.  This symbol has a lot of meaning, and that meaning varies depending on how it is used on a particular temple.  Sometimes the symbol may have multiple meanings on a given temple adding a rich depth of symbolism.  I'm going to focus on sun stones mainly and skip over sun symbols in glass.

The first sunstone was on the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.  Three of the original thirty sunstones have survived and can be seen in the Nauvoo Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visitor's center, Nauvoo Community of Christ visitor's center, and in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington D.C. right next to the original star spangled banner.  The rebuilt temple has sunstones matching the originals.

These sunstones in the Nauvoo Temple had a face on them.  This was apparently supposed to represent an actual person.  Joseph Smith was asked by a builder "Is this like the face you saw in vision?" and Joseph replied "Very near it" (See FAIR article).  So apparently the face had some added significance.
The suns on the sunstones were rising above either waves or clouds (there are conflicting accounts from the builders).  Early plans also had the sun rising above acanthus leaves, something that was worked into the rebuilt temple's interior (see photo on the right).  The sunstones formed the capitols of exterior pilasters together with the clouds/sea and the trumpet stones just above the sunstones.  The trumpet stones are what I named this blog after.  Some sources call them cornucopias, but the Salt Lake Temple plans show them clearly as trumpets (later the Salt Lake Temple trumpets were removed).  On the Nauvoo Temple, the sunstone's strongest intended meaning was not the celestial kingdom.  Wandel Mace, one of the temple foremen, said:
The order of architecture [on the Nauvoo Temple] was unlike anything in existence; it was purely original; being a representation of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife. John the Revelator, in the 12[th] chapter [and] first verse of [the book of Revelation] says, 'And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.' This is portrayed in the beautifully cut stone of this grand temple. (See FAIR article)
The next temple with sunstones was the Salt Lake Temple.  The symbolic stones on the Salt Lake Temple follow the general arrangement of those on the Nauvoo Temple and therefore have similar meaning.  So the sunstones primarily refer to the vision of John in the Revelation.  They do have some additional meaning as well.  Time seems to be used as a symbol on the temple with earthstones (originally to be detailed going through hours of a day), moonstones in different phases representing days, weeks, and months.  The sunstones could then represent the seasons and years as the sun moves north and south in the seasons.  Each sunstone has 40 points and 40 is often used to represent a long period of time.  The big dipper then would imply Polaris which never changes.  So in this case the sunstones would also represent progression towards eternity.

Early plans for the Salt Lake Temple show faces on the sunstones, similar to those used on the Nauvoo Temple sunstones.  This was probably changed when the temple material was switched to granite, making carving faces difficult.  I like how the Salt Lake Temple sunstones include the whole sun instead of only showing the Nauvoo Temple rising sun (for variety, I like the Nauvoo version a lot).  Originally the Salt Lake Temple's sunstones were intended to be gilded.  It would have been cool to see them covered in gold.  (See New Era article)

The Washington D.C. Temple was the next to include the sun, although in this case it was a sun metal door detail.  This sun is clearly inspired by the sunstones on both the Nauvoo Temple and Salt Lake Temple.  The Salt Lake Temple's round shape is combined with the face from the Nauvoo Temple.  The sun also appears to be rising.  For more information on the Washington D.C. Temple doors you can read my post and accompanying links here.  The arrangement of symbols on these doors, although clearly borrowing from the earlier temples, implies that in this temple the sun (highest on the doors) is being used to represent the celestial kingdom with glory compared to that of the sun as in 1 Corinthians 15:40-42.  This is how I think most members interpret the sunstone's symbolism, and for a lot of the later temples this is the primary intended meaning.  Another way to interpret the symbolism on this temple (and others) is that the sun is a part of the heavens (along with the moon and stars) and so sunstones represent heavenly things and the temple is a heavenly place.

I think that the next temple with sunstones was the Portland Oregon Temple.  These can be seen glowing brilliantly (they are thinly cut translucent stone) in the picture (you can see the full image in this link).  In this temple the sunstones are along the top of the temple and therefore line the top of the celestial room.  This shows that they represent the celestial kingdom.  At the same time, on the exterior of the temple, the symbols match those of the Salt Lake Temple and stars cover the spires above the sunstones meaning that the stones also are representing John's vision as in the Nauvoo and Salt Lake Temples.  The style is clearly copying the Salt Lake Temple sunstone design.  The way these stone windows glow also points out that sunstones can simply be used to represent light.

The Las Vegas Nevada Temple uses the same general floorplan as the Portland Temple.  In Las Vegas, the sunstones are moved down slightly so the starstones can be on the main body of the temple instead of the spires.  The sunstones are made out of precast concrete in this case.  The use of the sunstone in this temple implies John's vision.  Inside the celestial room there is also a brilliantly cut crystal sun mandala used to represent Jesus Christ (see my Las Vegas Temple post for more information on the symbolism).  The sun mandala can be seen on the manufacturer's website.  Additionally, above many doors in this temple there are rising suns similar to the Nauvoo Temple suns, but semicircles and without faces.

The Bountiful Utah Temple and Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple both contain sunstones.  There are 12 on each temple and they are at the base of each temple's spire.  The photo to the right shows the stones on the Mt. Timpanogos Temple and the original photo can be found here.  A picture of the Bountiful Temple with visible sunstones can be found here.  On these temples the sunstones follow the Salt Lake and Nauvoo Temple pattern and most clearly refer to John's vision.  Each temple also has suns on the doors seen on the Bountiful Temple here, and on the Mount Timpanogos Temple here, and here and here.  These door suns are more stylized and look similar to flowers.  I like that the spire suns have the rays going all the way to the center of the suns, making them different from previous temples' sun stones.  The Bountiful Temple also includes Native American sun designs throughout the temple.  Some can be seen in the main lobby on the top of wood columns.  The largest is in the celestial room stained glass window and therefore probably also represents the celestial kingdom.

The Bogota Columbia Temple also includes sunstones that can be seen here. They are at the base of the spire and as far as I can tell there are 16 of them.  This temple is similar to the Bountiful and Mount Timpanogos Temples.

The Preston England Temple has 2 sunstones.  They are arranged alongside starstones and moonstones.  The 2 starstones are closest to the front doors and the center of each is a new moon.  Then there are 4 moonstones increasing towards a full moon.  Then there are the sunstones which are closest to the celestial room and sealing rooms.  The center of each sunstone is actually a full moon.  Clearly these stones are meant to represent progression.  The sunstones represent the celestial kindgom.  I like how the orientation and style of the sunstones are different than previous temples.

The Albuquerque New Mexico Temple again follows the Salt Lake Temple's symbolism.  This time a single sunstone is placed among moonstones implying progression and the celestial kingdom.  Starstones higher on the temple link the sunstone symbol to John's vision.  Suns also appear in the stained glass windows.  Here is a link to the original of the picture at the left.

Palmyra New York Temple Sunstone
The Palmyra New York Temple is one of the first small temples.  Unlike other temples of this style which simply use circles as a decorative pattern (with circle in square symbolism), this temple has moonstones and sunstones and starstones.  In Chad Hawkins' book The First 100 Temples it states:
The sun and star stones of the temple are on the spire.  There are four sunstones, each one facing a cardinal direction of the compass.  Each sunstone has thirty-three rays of light, representing the number of years of the Savior's mortal experience.  Higher on the spire are three stars adorning each of its four sides, totaling twelve stars.  This design refers to the symbolic meanings represented by the numbers three and twelve.
If you read my post on the Las Vegas Nevada Temple, you'll remember that when a sun is paired with 12 stars it references Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 1 and thereby makes the sun represent Jesus Christ.  In the Palmyra Temple this is doubly emphasized by the 33 rays.

The Columbia River Washington Temple includes the symbols from the Salt Lake Temple but has moved the sunstones to the top of the spire.  They look similar to those on the Bountiful and Mt. Timpanogos Temples.

The Newport Beach California Temple also used sunstones.  In this case there are a lot of them along the top of the temple.  I'm not sure what other symbols are present except that if you look carefully you can see stars cut into the top of the spire which may imply a John's vision interpretation of the symbols.

When the Soa Paulo Brazil Temple was recently remodeled they added suns to the tops of the Celestial Room columns.  These are based on the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple's sun-rising-out-of-acanthus-leaves capitals, without faces, but with gilding.  I like seeing this detail in a remodel and hope to see similar details in new temples.

Those are the sunstones I've been able to identify.  10-15 more temples include the sun symbolically in their stained glass, but that will have to wait for another post.  To review, the sun as a temple symbol represents:

John's Vision in Revelation 12:1
The Celestial Kingdom as described in 1 Corinthians 15:40-42
Eternal Progression
Time approaching eternity
Jesus Christ (especially when paired with 12 stars symbolizing his apostles).
The Heavens

Please comment and let us know what you think, or if you know of any sunstones I may have missed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Oakland California Temple Tree of Life Motif

The Tree of Life is used as a symbol on many temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Sometimes the tree is realistically depicted.  Other times a stylized version of the Tree of Life is used.  The Oakland California Temple uses a stylized version of the Tree of Life that I really like.  I have found this symbol in two prominent locations.

Each of the five towers of the Oakland Temple have the stylized Tree of Life pattern running up the middle of each of their four sides.  Pictures of this are found in the following links: 1, 2, 3.

The same stylized version of the Tree of Life is found on the temple doors.  You can see a picture of them here.

I like this symbol and especially this particular stylized version of it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Temple Symbols - A Circle in a Square

Circle in Square, Las Vegas Nevada Temple
One common symbol found in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that of a circle inscribed in a square.  This is a very simple symbol with a neat meaning.

The circle in the square represent heaven and earth coming together (a great temple symbol).  The heavens are often described as a bowl and often symbolized by a circle.  In paintings, God is often depicted as laying out the heavens with a compass and the earth with a square.  The square is made with a square and represents the earth which is often described as having four corners.  The temple is a place that represents the union of heaven and earth, and where heavenly beings (Angels & Jesus Christ) literally come. 

The circle in the square can remind us of our temple covenants.  I don't want to elaborate on this, but those who have been endowed hopefully have picked up on or will pick up on how a circle and a square represent other symbols that represent other things.

The original Nauvoo Temple had a flying angel weather vane with a symbol above related to the circle in the square.  Here is an excerpt explaining the symbol.
Above the angel was the symbol of the square and compass, and surmounting that was a stylized flame of fire. . . . There exists no account for reason of the placement of the square and compass on the weather vane. One scholar has suggested that, since the compass, which is used to draw circles, points towards the bowl of the sky, and that the square, which is used to draw squares, points towards the earth, that the combination of the two symbols represent the powers of God in creating the bowl of the starry heavens and the four corners of the earth (Brown and Smith, Symbols in Stone, p. 105). Since the symbol is associated with "the angel flying through the midst of heaven" (D&C 133:36), it may suggest that the gospel will be "declared by holy angels" (Moses 5:58) from above to the four corners of the earth, even "unto every nation, and kindred, tongue and people" (D&C 133:37). (source site)
The Salt Lake Temple used the circle in square symbol (and didn't just hint at it).  The symbol can be seen in two places.  The first is here and is actually the earth stones (they just didn't receive the details of continents when the temple materials were changed to granite.  In this case, the symbol may be unintentionally a circle in a square.  The other location is high on the temple, near the top.  In this photo the circle in the square symbol is repeated above the inscription stone and below the cloud stones (which originally were planned with trumpets and would have been trumpet stones, which is where I got the name for this blog).  I've heard people claim that this symbol is the Saturn stone.  Originally the temple was planned to include stones sculpted like the planet Saturn; however, John Taylor had them removed from the temple design at the same time he instructed the architects to stop doing everything the way the Masons did as this was not a Masonic temple.  The circle in the square symbol is definitely NOT the planned Saturn stone symbol.  If you look in the book The Salt Lake Temple: A Monument to a People 1893-1993 you can see the original elevations of the temple and they include both the Saturn stones AND the current tower circle in square symbols on the same drawing.  These two symbols are distinctly different symbols.  I hope I've cleared that up, because a lot of people claim otherwise (online and elsewhere) and it is flat out wrong.  The Salt Lake Temple would also have originally had the compass and square symbols next to the earth stones, but later designs eliminated the symbols.

Many other temples include the circle in a square symbol, so many that I'm not even going to attempt to list them.  You'll find them in stone, on doors, in glass, on fences, cast into the concrete for sidewalks, and many other places.  Here are some examples - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. The original Ogden Utah Temple and the current Provo Utah Temple contain this symbol when viewed from the top.  The upper portion of each temple was rounded and is where the endowment and sealings are performed.  The base of the temples is square (or nearly so).

I like the circle in square symbol, its simplicity, and its beautiful symbolism of heaven and earth united.  Please comment and let us know what you think about this symbol or other places it has been used.

If you want to read more, here is an article by Hugh Nibley on the subject from BYU's website.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Latter-day Saint Temple Baptismal Font Staircases

This is another post on staircases in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Temples.  Today I'll be briefly discussing baptismal font stairs.

Above from left to right are pictures of the baptismal font stairs in the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, St. George Utah Temple, Logan Utah Temple (original), Salt Lake Temple, Laie Hawaii Temple, and the Cardston Alberta Canada Temple.  These staircases are typical of many temple stairs where one walks up to the font.  Many have beautiful decorative railings.  I like these staircases.  I really like the intricate railing and step details used in the St. George Temple, Logan Temple and Salt Lake Temple.  I also like that patrons get to use the stairs.

There are many temples with stairs around the font which only lead to the area around the oxen and which are only used for maintenance and cleaning.  These can be seen in the Jordan River Utah Temple, Ogden Utah Temple (at least before remodeling started), Provo Utah Temple, remodeled Logan Utah Temple, and many others.  Most of these are really plain, but one stands out.  The Washington D.C. Temple font has two curved staircases that have obviously been planned to work with the look of the font and I think they add a lot to the temple and enhance the baptistry.
Washington D.C. Temple Baptistry

Those are a few baptistry staircases.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Las Vegas Nevada Temple

I really like the Las Vegas Nevada Temple built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It shares the impressive floor plan of the Portland Oregon Temple and is therefore a highly modified form of the six spire sloped roof style of temple.  The details that went into this particular temple are impressive.  Members donated large amounts of money to build the temple beyond their tithing.  In fact, they raised $11 million, 428% of what they were asked to raise (see this site).

This temple has a copper roof, precast concrete panels, and detailed spires in addition to beautiful art glass windows.  The doors are tall with paneling above the doors that make them look even taller (the Manti Temple does the same thing).  The precast panels have several symbols/decorations cast into them.  Moonsun, and other stones similar to those found on the Salt Lake Temple are on the exterior panels.  Some glass windows also have stars cut into them.  The desert lily, a local flower, is also cast into the panels (see this site).  This helps the temple fit in locally as well as adding symbolism.  "Consider the lilies of the field..."  Another exterior symbol is the circle inscribed in a square, a symbol found on many temples which, among other things, can represent heaven and earth coming together or God and man united.  The art glass windows filling the north and south elevations of the temple are impressive.  At night they make the temple glow.  During the day, they brightly illuminate many rooms.  The celestial room is on the south of the temple, and due to the interesting hexagonal geometry of the building, the windows for this room face southeast and southwest, so light is always flowing into the room during the day.  Also, since more light always comes from the south in the northern hemisphere, the celestial room is the room with most light in the temple.

The grounds of the Las Vegas Temple are filled with lush desert vegetation and give a feeling of the temple being an oasis in the desert.  The temple site is intentionally far from the strip; in fact, if it was any further away it would be on the mountain it is next to.  There is also a fountain on the west side of the temple.  On the east side, just inside the temple, there is a courtyard garden that is open to the public.  It has flowers and other plants and ponds.  There is also a good view of the Angel Moroni statue from this courtyard.  The entry waiting room is also nice with a dome with really good acoustics (don't whisper something you don't want overheard), a detailed floor with numerous types of stones inlaid in a nice pattern, and a mural of Christ teaching (I think it was the sermon on the mount, but it has been about a year since I was last there).

Inside, the temple is decorated with desert colors.  Pinks, browns, tans and reds are everywhere in the temple.  Accents of gold and silver (Nevada is the silver state) work nicely with these colors.  The color scheme is also very soothing and adds to the feeling of peace already present in all temples.

 The Las Vegas Temple baptistry is one of my favorites.  The room has exterior windows which make it very light.  It is also at an angle, which makes it feel special and unique.  The floor beneath the font has beautiful polished stone laid out in the Star of David.  The chapel looks out on the font (without a wall or even glass in between).  There are two columns in the room, each round and painted to resemble a brown stone.  This makes the room feel refreshingly cool (which is welcomed in the heat of Las Vegas).

If you are doing an endowment, you'll first enter the chapel to wait for a session.  The chapel is unique.  It has art glass windows all along two sides of the room which illuminate the room with pink hues.  Above the doors here (and elsewhere in the temple) there are arches filled with a carved rising sun.  I would estimate that these half suns are between 3ft and 5ft in diameter.  The style is interesting and a little hard to describe.  They are similar to the Nauvoo Temple sunstones, but without a face on the suns.  They can also be found in the endowment rooms, celestial room, and elsewhere in the temple.

On the way to the endowment rooms you might notice that the staircases are triangular (or hexagonal depending on your point of view).  This is very similar to the Portland Oregon Temple.  I love this feature because it makes the temple unique and is something you almost never see.  I've only seen these types of staircases in the Portland Oregon Temple and Las Vegas Nevada Temple.  This architectural feature makes the temple different than the world.  It is also modern in a good way.

The endowment rooms are very similar to those in the Portland Oregon Temple and are laid out with the focus on a corner of the room.  Differing from Portland, the rooms have a slight curve to them.  The rooms are finely crafted.  A short railing has an 1800s look to it, perhaps to connect the temple to the original Latter-day Saint pioneers who were sent by Brigham Young to what would become Las Vegas to convert Native Americans.  This made church members among the first settlers of Las Vegas. (on a side note, there are some Native American themed paintings and artifacts inside the temple).

The celestial room is brilliantly done.   It is very similar to the Portland Temple celestial room (unfortunately without a second level).  Two walls are filled with art glass letting light flood in.  The top pieces of glass are ovals with a star cut into them.  This causes rainbows to be scattered about the room.  On the exterior corner there is a very tall window of cut glass.  The top pane is a circular crystal medallion cut into a sunburst.  You can see pictures of this glass on the manufacturer's website.  If I remember correctly, the window goes into a sealing room in the corner of the room.  The celestial room also features two polished silver chandeliers covered in crystal.  The silver fits in well with the color scheme of the temple and helps the temple fit into Nevada, the Silver State.  I really like this celestial room.  I wish they had added a staircase and upper level like the Portland Oregon Temple has; however, even without that detail this room is stunning.  I also like a lot of details in this room better than those in the Portland Temple.  There is added symbolism in the celestial room glass.  There are 12 oval windows with stars cut into them and the one huge circular sunburst glass.  Together these may reference Lehi's vision in The Book of Mormon of Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles:
And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.
And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.
1 Nephi 1:9-10, emphasis added
 The sealing rooms are nice.  I particularly like the barrel vaulting in the center of the rooms.  I recall there being fine details painted around the rooms, but I don't have any pictures detailed enough to show this.

I highly encourage you to visit the temple when you are in Las Vegas.  It is always the highlight of my trips to Las Vegas.  Even if you cannot go inside, you can enjoy the lush grounds, exterior symbolism, and the courtyard (inside the temple but open to the public and before the recommend desk).

Please comment and let everyone know what you think about this temple, or other interesting details I missed.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Temple Symbols - Ursa Major (The Big Dipper) and Polaris

Temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contain many symbols. The constellation Ursa Major (The Big Dipper) is carved onto the Salt Lake Temple's west central tower.  This symbol has a lot of meaning and is used in a few other temples.  I'd like to highlight the symbol's meaning and how and where it is used.

The first temple to have this symbol was the Salt Lake Temple.  The west central tower lacks windows on the top story allowing for the big dipper sculpture.  While there are other stars depicted on the temple, this sculpture uses them differently.  The stars are six sided instead of the other stars which are five sided.  They are also arranged in a group.  On the Salt Lake Temple the big dipper stars point towards the actual north star.

The big dipper's symbolism can be understood in several ways.
1. The big dipper points to the north star, Polaris, the only star that doesn't move during the night.  As the big dipper is used to find the north star, the temple is used to help us find God who doesn't change.
2. As the big dipper helps us find our way, the temple guides us through life and to eternity.
3. The symbol can represent progression if used in conjunction with other temple symbols.  The temple lowest stones are the earth stones (originally to show the earth rotating through hours of a day).  The next stones are moon stones going through phases which can represent days and months.  Next up are the sun stones.  The sun goes through seasons so it could represent seasons and years.  The big dipper sculpture is higher on the temple and hints at Polaris, the star that doesn't change.  It represents infinity, eternity.  So as we go up we get hours, days, months, years, and finally eternity.  As we progress in the temple we approach the infinite and eternal.
4. The eternity symbolism can also represent going from a temporal, mortal state to an eternal, immortal, resurrected state.
5. The big dipper as a guiding constellation can be seen as a symbol for the Holy Ghost which guides us through life.
The next temple (I know of) to display the big dipper is the Washington D.C. Temple.  This temple is a stylized version of the Salt Lake Temple.  The symbolic sculptures from the Salt Lake Temple were depicted in the detailed doors of the Washington D.C. Temple.  Among the panels is one on the bottom right corner showing the big dipper and the north star (over the Seal of Melchizedek).  Because this temple also depicts the north star, it hints that the symbol is supposed to be understood with the north star.  I'm glad they added this symbolism to the Washington D.C. Temple.

The Anchorage Alaska Temple also contains the big dipper symbol.  The Alaska state flag is just the big dipper and north star.  So including the big dipper symbol from the Salt Lake Temple was one way to make this temple fit in locally.  The stars are eight sided on this temple and are carved into the stone rather than projecting out of it.  You can see the big dipper and north star carvings in this photo.  You will need to look closely.  The north star is on the left top and is larger than the other stars.  The next star is a little more than half way down the wall on the other side of the first window.  It may take you a minute, but you can find all the stars.  The last two are at the top of the wall with one between the last two windows and the other to the right of the last window.  I think the carvings are on the celestial room wall, but I may be wrong.

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple also includes the big dipper and north star (see this Church News article).  They are in the stained glass in one of the dressing rooms and are positioned as they would have been on April 6, 1830, the day The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.  Here is a photo showing stars, although I don't think this is the big dipper one (it has too few stars).

I don't know of any other temples that have used the big dipper symbol.  If you know of any others please comment.  Comment also and let us know what you think of this symbol and how it is used on temples.  I am glad that the church has used this symbol on more than just the Salt Lake Temple.  I hope it continues to be used from time to time.

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple (in a suburb of Omaha) is a wonderful temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I'd like to highlight today.

Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple
The temple is one of the first style of small temples with some notable differences.  It is two stories tall and is built into a hill.  It actually shares a floor plan with the Snowflake Arizona Temple.  In this case, the hill is actually the pioneer cemetery.  Winter Quarters was one location where the saints spent the winter after being driven from Nauvoo, Illinois and before reaching Utah.  Many died there and have hallowed the ground.  Now the temple adds to the sacredness of the location.  I like that because the temple is built into the hill, the baptistry is at the same level as the interred dead providing wonderful symbolism.

Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple Celestial Room Windows
Okay, I'll briefly address the architectural weaknesses of the building.  It is one of the early small temples; consequently, it looks similar to a lot of temples.  It also has a spire that looks more like a chimney.  From the outside, the temple is nice, but not very grand.  This isn't all bad.  Because the temple isn't huge it doesn't distract from the cemetery.  In fact, from the cemetery you can only really see the Celestial Room windows that are a stained glass representation of the Tree of Life.  I think this maintains (and enhances) the peace in the cemetery and enhances the temple at the same time.

Winter Quarters Temple Entry
Now I'll move onto the many positive aspects of this temple.  As you enter the temple, you will notice that the doors are very unique.  The entry glass is covered in (brass?) metal grill work covered in metal grapes with a floral depiction on the glass doors (olive?).  Grapes and olives are found throughout the temple.  Once inside, you see the recommend desk with a stained glass window of a trail going through trees.  The Church News reported:
The window behind the recommend desk features a river with seven trees adjacent to it, symbolic of seven gospel dispensations in the history of the world. The river alludes to Psalm 1:3, which speaks of a righteous man who is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf shall also not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
The leaf in this passage Brother Holdman interprets as representing the posterity of God's righteous children, and he has shown the leaves on the tree linked together, as righteous posterity are linked in an endless chain.
Moreover, the scene alludes to Revelation 22:1-2, "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it and on either side of the river was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits. . . ."
Thus, Brother Holdman used pulverized crystal to form the river, symbolic of the use of the word crystal in the scriptural passage. That also signifies the sacrifice of the early Church members who crushed their china and silver to mix with mortar in the walls of the Kirtland Temple to make it shimmer.  The river of life, in fact, is a unifying motif, flowing down through the window images, beginning at the Celestial Room, alluding to Ezekiel 37, which speaks of living waters issuing from the House of the Lord. In the baptistry, the river appears to flow into the baptismal font.
Winter Quarters Temple Font
The baptismal font is on the other side of the glass.  The baptistry has a chapel (unique in this size of temple).  Three art glass windows go between the chapel and the font.  One window has an olive branch bearing olives, another has a fig branch bearing figs, the last has an almond branch bearing fruit and flowers representing the rod of Aaron that blossomed and bore fruit and was kept in the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the ancient Tabernacle.   This is a symbol of the Aaronic Priesthood and therefore fitting for a temple baptistry.  The Church News article further states:

Windows in the baptistry are bordered with quilt patterns from that era, a log-cabin pattern and crown-of-thorns pattern, signifying the sacrifices of the pioneers who wrapped the bodies of their departed loved ones in quilts before burial.
Some of the stained-glass themes hearken to designs on the Salt Lake Temple. And in one of the dressing rooms is a representation of the North Star and the Big Dipper constellations in the exact orientation that they would have to each other on April 6 . . . in 1830. (The stars are formed by holes drilled in the glass, which makes them appear to twinkle.)
Beneath the temple's spire there are six windows, three are in the men's dressing room on the top floor.  See July 2003 Ensign.  It describes the windows as follows:
Each panel contains a mariner’s compass. In the center of each compass are stars and the moon, representing the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms. The glowing rays of the sun make up the outer ring of each compass, representing the celestial kingdom. The bottom three panels depict a river, rolling hills, and wildflowers.
When you go upstairs, you might also notice the windows in the lobby directly above the recommend desk.  This lobby has a window with 12 images from Church history relating to Winter Quarters.   The images are:

Brigham Young
The Kanesville Tabernacle
Winter Quarter's Grist Mill
The Pioneer Roadometer (the odometer was invented by the pioneers)
William Clayton writing the hymn "Come, Come, Ye Saints"
Pioneers building cabins
Brigham Young signing papers to enlist the Mormon Battalion
The chief of the Omaha Indians who was kind to the saints and let them stay at winter quarters
Pioneers crossing a river
Handcart pioneers
A mother and a father burying a child.

The church news explained about this last pane:
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.
If you read the article you will notice other small details that are hidden in the art.  When I visited the temple, the workers pointed out that in the lobby there are thistles painted on the ceiling.  They suggested that the thistle could represent trials.  I can see this, but I also know that it is a royal flower (shown with a crown when representing Scotland).  The purple flower is a royal color.  I also read that the pioneers ate thistles to keep from starving (in addition to the Sego Lily, also represented in this temple).

Winter Quarters Temple Creation/Garden/World Room
The endowment rooms don't have murals, but the first does have two fitting paintings.  The first is of the Missouri River (continuing the river theme) and the second is of Chimney Rock in Nebraska.  This was a landmark on the pioneer trail.  It also has special temple significance as reported in the institute manual Church History in the Fullness of Times:
On 26 May the company passed Chimney Rock—a principal landmark in Wyoming—which was considered the halfway mark by emigrating Saints. It was near Chimney Rock that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball expressed concern over the lightmindedness and profanity of some camp members who were holding mock trials and elections, gambling, and playing cards. Late one evening the two senior Apostles, moved by the Spirit, discussed calling the camp to repentance. The next day Brigham Young spoke to the men plainly.
William Clayton recalled Brigham saying, “Give me the man of prayers, give me the man of faith, give me the man of meditation, a sober-minded man, and I would far rather go amongst the savages with six or eight such men than to trust myself with the whole of this camp with the spirit they now possess. . . . Do we suppose that we are going to look out a home for the Saints, a resting place, a place of peace where they can build up the kingdom and bid the nations welcome, with a low, mean, dirty, trifling, covetous, wicked spirit dwelling in our bosoms? It is vain!” He concluded with a call to repentance: “If they [the brethren] will not enter into a covenant to put away their iniquity and turn to the Lord and serve Him and acknowledge and honor His name, I want them to take their wagons and retreat back, for I shall go no farther under such a state of things. If we don’t repent and quit our wickedness we will have more hinderances than we have had, and worse storms to encounter.”
The following day, Sunday, Brigham Young convened a special meeting of the leaders. They went out on the bluffs, clothed themselves in their temple robes, and held a prayer circle. William Clayton said they “offered up prayer to God for ourselves, this camp and all pertaining to it, the brethren in the army, our families and all the Saints.” Thereafter a more saintly atmosphere prevailed in the camp.
Winter Quarters Temple Terrestrial Room
The design of these two endowment rooms is essentially the same as the other first small temples, but they are decorated a little differently and are beautifully done.  I really like the sconces, chairs, and railings which are intentionally designed to match 1840s decor.

The celestial room is stunning.  Throughout the temple there are depictions of the state flowers from the five states that the pioneers traveled through on their way to Utah.  In the Celestial Room there is the aforementioned stained glass window of the tree of life.  The window also contains state flowers including the Sego Lily.  The Church News explained:
Throughout the temple on art-glass windows are represented the state flowers of the five states through which pioneers trekked — Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah. In the Celestial Room is the sego lily, designated as the state flower of Utah because its roots provided sustenance for the Pioneers during their first winter. It was as manna from heaven for them, Brother Holdman noted. Thus the presence of the flower in the celestial room represents the completion of their journey to the promised land and alludes to Revelation 2:7,17, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. . . . To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna."
Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple Celestial Room

The Celestial Room is also unique with details such as a chandelier in a style fitting with the pioneer period instead of the standard modern chandelier used in other temples of this style.

Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple Sealing Room Detail
The sealing rooms again use art glass.  An image of parents with children is in the center pane.  The center top pane also has a crown at the top.

I love the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple.  It has been finely built and filled with symbols and beauty.  It works with the sacredness of the site and enhances it.  This temple effectively honors and remembers the pioneers and their sacrifice while bringing us closer to God.

Please comment and tell us what you think about the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Temple Materials - Brick

This is another installment on materials used in temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This time we are discussing brick.

You might ask what my opinion is on brick.  As a building material I hate it.  As an architectural material, I often like it.  I hate it as a building material because it is brittle, heavy, and hard to reinforce (sometimes impossible).  This is really bad if you are in an area with seismic concerns.  Brick also can look less permanent than stone, but it often looks enduring.  I actually like the temples that use brick.

The temple endowment was first given in the upper assembly room of Joseph Smith's red brick store in Nauvoo, Illinois.  Joseph realized that the temple wouldn't be completed before his death so he gave the ordinances to a select few there.  Because of this, brick temples can remind us of where the ordinances were first given.

Original plans for the Salt Lake Temple called for it to be made from adobe, a kind of brick.  This seems odd, as Brigham Young saw the temple in vision. You would think he would have insisted on the granite it was later built out of.  Well, the adobe used at the time was apparently the same grey color as the temple, which makes his vision make sense.  In this case, I am glad granite was chosen.

Johannesburg South Africa Temple
The Johannesburg South Africa Temple was the first completed out of brick.  It is made of brown brick and is one of the six spire sloped roof temples.  I think the brick gives it an 80s look, but not in a bad way.  The brick (a veneer really) is carefully laid and gives a very orderly, nice, neat look.  I also like how the white spires springing from their brick bases seem all the whiter next to brown brick.

Vernal Utah Temple
The Vernal Utah Temple and Copenhagen Denmark Temple are both made out of brick, and both are remodeled from existing structures - Vernal was an old tabernacle and Copenhagen was an old chapel.  I like how both of them are red, making them uniquely colored temples and reminding us of Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store.  The Vernal Temple has yellow-orange stone details around the windows and doors.
Copenhagen Denmark Temple
The Copenhagen Denmark Temple has a very orderly, stately look.  It is quite simple and reminds me of the Temple of Solomon.  I like that the red brick makes the light columns stand out.  I also like how the red in these temples can remind us of Christ and his sacrifice for us.

Other temples have brick beneath the surface such as the London England Temple which, according to is made of reinforced concrete on a structural steel skeleton with brick walls covered in white Portland limestone.

Although not brick, other temples use CMU (Concrete masonry units) which are better known as cinder block.  I used to have a bad impressing of CMU; however, they are a good building material.  In most cases they should be stuccoed or otherwise covered for aesthetic reasons.  I understand that the Twin Falls Temple is CMU with precast concrete panels covering the exterior.  The Hamilton New Zealand Temple is also CMU and apparently just painted.  I think a few others are CMU, particularly temples built in the 1970s and 1980s.  In most, if not all, of these cases the CMU is covered with stone, stucco, or some other material.  To be clear, CMU is not brick.  Brick is clay masonry.  CMU is concrete masonry.  Stone masonry also exists and is what the pioneer temples are made out of.

I like that a few temples are made out of brick.  I like the variety.  Still, I hope this material is only occasionally used.  Given the current history of brick in temples, it will probably be very rarely used and mainly used when a building is remodeled into a temple.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Making Temples Local - Flowers

I'll probably do multiple posts on making temples fit in locally.  I'll start with flowers.

One way the church has (especially recently) helped temples feel unique and built for a given state or nation is to use locally significant flowers.  Many of the first types of small temples included the state flower in carpets, upholstery, and elsewhere.  This was one of a few changes to help these nearly indistinguishable temples fit in locally.  With other temples the local changes were far more involved and now great effort is made to have temples of the same plan be vastly different.
 The Holy Ghost Lily, the national flower of Panama, is used in the Panama City Panama Temple.  This flower is prominently displayed throughout the temple.  The nice thing about this flower is that it is also symbolic.  It gets its name because it looks like there is a dove in the center.
Holy Ghost Lily, Panama City Temple Inlay
The Twin Falls Idaho Temple includes stylized versions of the Syringa flower, Idaho's state flower, in the railings, wood table inlays, stained glass, and elsewhere.

Syringa Flower, Twin Falls Idaho Temple Railing

Syringa Flower, Twin Falls Idaho Temple Wood Inlay
The Draper Utah Temple includes the Sego Lily, Utah's state flower.  This flower is also prominently featured in the Salt Lake Temple, partially because the pioneers ate it to keep from starvation.  The flower appears in art glass, ceiling and wall paintings, carved carpets, etc.
Draper Temple Sego Lily Details
The Anchorage Alaska Temple features the forget-me-not flower, Alaska's state flower.  It also makes a fitting symbol for the temple.  We shouldn't forget our God, and he will not forget us.  We shouldn't forget the covenants we make or the spouse we marry in the temple.

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple has the state flowers of the five states the pioneers passed through.  The Church News said:
Throughout the temple on art-glass windows are represented the state flowers of the five states through which pioneers trekked — Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah. In the Celestial Room is the sego lily, designated as the state flower of Utah because its roots provided sustenance for the Pioneers during their first winter. It was as manna from heaven for them, Brother Holdman noted. Thus the presence of the flower in the celestial room represents the completion of their journey to the promised land and alludes to Revelation 2:7,17, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. . . . To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna."
 So not only do the flowers make the temple unique, but they also make it symbolic.  The state flowers are the Blue Violet (Illinois), Wild Rose (Iowa), Goldenrod (Nebraska), Indian Paintbrush (Wyoming), and the Sego Lily (Utah).  The temple also has thistles in a design in the upstairs waiting area.  Thistles are prickly and may be a symbol of trials.  Their use may be more positive as thistles are hardy and a royal flower (United Kingdom coins have a thistle with a crown representing Scotland).  The thistle was also another plant that the pioneers ate to keep from starving.

The new Kyiv Ukraine Temple uses Ukraine's national flower, the sunflower, throughout the temple.  The flower is found in decorative painting and in fabrics.  See this church newroom article.

The newly remodeled Laie Hawaii Temple now has the Hawaii state flower.  This Deseret News article states:
Elder Scott Whiting, an area Seventy and coordinator of the local temple committee, said during the renovation the temple has been structurally hardened and will stand well into the future. "The original beauty and structure of the temple have remained intact during the renovation process," he said. In addition, he added, the state flower, the hibiscus, and leaves and nuts from the kukui tree add local significance to the temple's d├ęcor.
Laie Hawaii Temple Recommend Desk Glass Detail
Those are just a few examples of how temples have used local flowers to make the temple fit in locally.  Other temples have used other plants.  For example, the Rexburg Idaho Temple uses wheat just about everywhere in the decoration.  It is on staircases, in stained glass, sculpted in carpets, painted on walls, etc.  This was planned because the temple is in a farming community.  It also has great gospel symbolism.

I really like that some effort is made to give temples a local touch.  I have no problem with imported materials, but I also like to see something local represented.  I also like it when the flowers have some added symbolism as most of those listed above do.

Please comment and let us know what you think about using local flowers in temple designs.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Temple Materials - Precast Concrete

This post will start a series of posts that I intend to write from time to time about materials used in temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Oddly enough, instead of starting with stone or plaster (the earliest materials) I am starting with precast concrete (the most modern material in my opinion).

As an engineer, I respect concrete as a building material.  It is essentially a combination of coarse aggregate (stone chips, gravel, small rocks, etc.), fine aggregate (sand), water, various admixtures, and cement.  The Romans used concrete to make their wonderful structures such as the Pantheon, so it isn't really that modern.  The Romans had a recipe for cement which was lost until the 1800s.  When water is added to cement it causes a chemical reaction that binds the various other components of concrete together and gives strength.  This can make the completed product stronger than stone.
Concrete has the great compressive strength of stone with several major advantages.  Concrete can be poured and cast into the desired shape (even with patterns).  It also allows structures to be built without large pieces of stone.  Concrete is weak in tension, so weak that we neglect its tensile strength in design.  This is why it can crack.  Stone has the same problem and requires arches and other structural components to be used to keep the structure in compression.  You can reinforce concrete with steel (or other materials) and let the steel take the tension.  This creates a much better, stronger, and more versatile building material.
Precast concrete is used to save time (normally you must wait for lower levels of a structure to cure before adding higher levels).  Panels can be cast on or off site ahead of time and then added when needed.  Precasting concrete also allows for controlled conditions because things such as temperature and humidity have a huge impact on concrete curing and resulting strength.  Precast panels can also be prestressed, giving them even greater strength.  Intricate designs can be cast into precast panels and even stone finishes or other finishes can be added to precast panels.

Okay, so I've probably bored all the non-engineers out there, so I'll move on to the temples using precast concrete.  You might think it odd that a temple would use concrete.  Concrete can be an ugly material, or even just have an unfinished look not appropriate for a temple.  It can also be finely finished and make some of the most beautiful buildings in the world such as the Sydney Opera House or this Bahaii Temple.

So on to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' temples with exposed precast concrete exteriors.  I was a little surprised that a few temples didn't make the list as they were actually stucco or plaster exteriors and not precast concrete.  Here is the chronological list I came up with after reviewing all the temples on :

Ogden Utah Temple (original only - remodeled will have stone)
Provo Utah Temple
Tokyo Japan Temple
Seattle Washington Temple
Jordan River Utah Temple
Atlanta Georgia Temple
Mexico City Mexico Temple
Denver Colorado Temple
Las Vegas Nevada Temple
Toronto Ontario Canada Temple
Orlando Florida Temple
St. Louis Missouri Temple
Billings Montana Temple
Albuquerque New Mexico
Rexburg Idaho Temple
Twin Falls Idaho Temple
Gila Valley Arizona Temple
Under Construction:
Kansas City Kansas Temple
Brigham City Utah Temple

I don't think all of these work well, but the most recent are very nicely done.  I think that the "cast stone" version of concrete panels tends to just look like fake stone; whereas, the temples that fully embrace concrete as their material tend to look better.  Temples with detailed cast panels also tend to look better than those with flat panels.  The temples with my favorite uses of precast concrete are Jordan River, Mexico City, Rexburg, and Twin Falls.  Let me elaborate:

The Jordan River Utah Temple is very modern.  It uses inverted parabolic (hyperbolic?) arches as an architectural motif.  Using cast stone allows the temple to hold these details without prohibitive engraving costs.  White marble chips have been added to the concrete to give it the bright white color.  The spire is actually a type of fiberglass (you don't want to throw the weight of concrete that high up a building in Utah for seismic reasons).

The Mexico City Mexico Temple has intricate Mayan designs incorporated into the precast stone panels.  Unfortunately, due to the horrible pollution in Mexico City, the panels turned a nasty brown color.  Fortunately, the church recently replaced all the exterior panels with exact replicas.  I assume the replicas now how a special finish that makes dirt and pollution fall off (they can finish the concrete and make it do that now).  I also love how the Mexico City Temple incorporates local ancient architecture and uses modern precast concrete to make a temple in a successful fusion of old and new.  The temple won an award for its artistic use of precast concrete (see

The Rexburg Idaho Temple refreshingly uses precast concrete.  According to,
The exterior walls of the Rexburg Idaho Temple are made of 637 precast panels from 45 different molds, including the retaining wall. The material is called China White—a white quartz finish (mined in Washington state) on concrete panels. A water-proofing compound allows dust to wash off in the rain, keeping the temple a radiant white.
I also love the art deco influences (I'm a huge art deco fan).  I love how columns and pilasters resemble wheat (wheat is used throughout the temple stained glass, carpets, stair railings, wall designs, etc.).  I think the concrete works because it is finely finished, detailed, and kept immaculate.

The Twin Falls Idaho Temple was built at the same time as the Rexburg Temple and shares many similar features.  I must state that I don't think it is as well proportioned as Rexburg or in general design; however, I like the temple and loved attending it (the inside is very well executed with the exception of ductwork making the terrestrial room windows fake).  The precast panels are the biggest strength of the exterior and are well done.  They incorporate a waterfall theme.  The panels have a nice white quartz finish.  I think the panels are the same concrete used in the Rexburg Temple.

Other notable precast concrete temples are:
The Las Vegas Nevada Temple with desert lilies, sun, moon, and earth "stones" cast into the concrete.
The Denver Colorado Temple's modern designs cast in concrete.
The Albuquerque New Mexico Temple with its use of sun and moon "stones" made of precast concrete.
The Seattle Washington Temple has shafts of wheat cast into the panels.

I also like that several new temples will use precast concrete.  The Kansas City Temple is already sheathed in its precast panels and will have a sleek look.  Some nice details have been cast between windows.  The Brigham City Temple will also use precast concrete panels, despite being heavily influenced by stone pioneer temples.  I like the design and think it will be more interesting in person than in the rendering.

I used to think that using concrete was somehow being cheap.  When nicely done, it is not cheap.  In fact, a major reason that precast concrete isn't used for temple exteriors in many parts of the world is that the countries don't have the skill, technology, or quality control to produce the panels.  They are advanced and a very good building material.  In many temples they have been a beautiful building material as well.

Please comment and let us know what you think about precast concrete as a temple building material.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Alternatives to Angel Moroni Statues

I've already written a lengthy post about Angel Moroni statues on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' temples.  This post is about other notable temple toppers.

The original and rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple had(have) a bell tower on the top.  Yes, the original temple had a flying Angel Moroni weather vane and the rebuilt one has a statue of Moroni.  In addition to this, both temples contain(ed) a bell as the tower is a bell tower.  The tower in the completed temple can be seen in the picture on the left.  The original temple bell was taken with the saints from Nauvoo when they crossed the plains and settled in Utah.  It currently sits atop a tower at temple square, south and a little west of the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
I like the idea of a temple bell.  On my mission I remember being in Cambridge at Easter and hearing church bells ring out from Great St. Mary's Church.  It was impressive.  I would love to see a bell added to another temple, although I don't expect to see one.  This is mainly  because we like to build in neighborhoods and bells might annoy neighbors.  Also, now days we (all of society, not just the church) don't tend to use bells very often.

This brings up another temple topper, also from the Nauvoo Temple - a clock tower.  The Nauvoo Temple tower has clocks on all four faces.  This was mainly added because it was popular to add clock towers in the 1840s.  Also, at that time, most buildings were considered a community asset and would have many functions.  Adding a clock would provide one more community service.  You have probably also guessed that the Nauvoo Temple bell was installed for use with the clock.  To this day it chimes the hour at temple square.  It probably wasn't intended, but a clock can act as a symbol of time and eternity and of order.

Weather vanes are another temple topper that has been used a few times.  The Kirtland Ohio Temple was built with a weather vane (the current one is a replica).  The original Nauvoo Illinois Temple had a weather vane angel that would have helped people determine the wind direction (you'll notice that the Nauvoo Temple had a lot of practical features for the community).  The St. George Utah Temple was built next and has a weather vane on its tower.  Similar weather vanes top the Logan Temple east and west center towers.  Today one faces north and the other faces south.  I assume that they originally rotated with the wind, but have since been replaced when the towers were replaced with fiberglass replicas.  The weather vanes on these three temples are all arrows.

The Cardston Alberta Canada Temple has no tower or spire, however its gently sloping pyramidal roof has a light or lantern at its peak, a fitting topper to a temple.

The remaining temples have had some sort of finial or spire when they haven't had Angel Moroni statues but have had towers.

Please comment and let us know what you think about these unique temple features from before Angel Moroni statues became standard.  I like these unique features and hope we keep them intact.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Crenelated Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Perhaps you are wondering what a crenelation is.  It is a parapet with short segments cut out.  They are used in castles and fortress walls.  So I could have also labeled this post "Battlements on Latter-day Saint Temples" or "The Castellated Temple Style".  But crenelation is a fun word, so I'm going to use it.

A major feature of the temples Brigham Young built are the crenelations and other castle style architecture used.  The pioneers were trying to literally build the Kingdom of God and it showed in their architecture.  Even churches were made to resemble castles.  The defensive architecture was also used as a symbol of the protection faithfully living the gospel and attending the temple provided (temporally and spiritually).  It also reinforced the royal imagery of a church with the royal priesthood and as sons and daughters of God destined to be kings and queens.  It reminds us that the temple is the House of the Lord with Christ as the King of Kings, the Prince of Glory.  The castle look also visually unites the four pioneer temples despite their differences.

The St. George Temple was the first to look like a castle.  It is brilliant white and has buttresses and crenelations giving it a look of strength and nobility.


The Logan Temple was built next and it again features buttresses and crenelations or battlements.  The current dark stone seems to add to the fortress look of the temple (originally it was painted white).  The corner towers are also octagonal giving a turret look which makes the building look even stronger.

The Manti Temple continued to use castle features despite having towers with French revival influences.  Again buttresses and crenelations are found on the walls.  The middle towers also have pyramidal stones at the tops of the walls that make them look even more defensive.  Another feature is the large stone retaining wall which includes crenelations and adds to the fortified look.  The west end towers are octagonal giving a turret look, while the east towers are all square to make them visually appealing butting into a hill.  This also makes the east towers appear weightier and stronger and larger, which is fitting as they represent the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The Salt Lake Temple is of course covered with castle elements.  Its architecture is often called castellated gothic (I think the name isn't very fitting as the architecture isn't very gothic with no pointed arches or flying buttresses and relatively little glass).  The architecture is very well done and beautiful.  The temple really is a conglomeration of styles, but the crenelations, buttresses, and deeply set windows all give a feeling of strength and a castle look.  The use of normal arches and not pointed arches probably helps it look like a castle as well.  You might also notice that the buttresses extend above the crenelated parapet.  This is because at that level every other buttress is also a chimney.  You can see that half of them are open in this photo. The open ones are chimneys.

These four temples, the pioneer temples, are the only ones to use the castle style with crenelations.  Other temples have mimicked features of these temples including the Brigham City Utah Temple which is currently under construction.  That temple isn't using crenelations.  The San Diego Temple is often compared to a castle and it is beautiful and has a look of strength, but it is not crenelated.  The crenelated castle style is part of what makes the pioneer temples unique.  I would like to see it incorporated into a new temple, but if not, we still have four superb examples of the style.  I should also mention that using a crenelated castle style of church architecture is not unique to Mormonism - I saw many examples of it on my mission in England.