Monday, May 2, 2011

LDS Temple Grand Staircases

This is another installment in my LDS Temple staircase series of posts.  Today I want to show some grand staircases.

I'll start with the Salt Lake Temple where the endowment ceremony uses the grand staircase well.  You see it before entering the creation room.  When you leave the garden room you step onto the staircase, already a few steps up it on a small landing.  This emphasizes our choice in this fallen world, to ascend, or to fall further.  You then go up the staircase and get a brief view of the celestial room doors before turning and entering the world room.  The staircase itself is nicely built with fine woodwork.  Unfortunately, you can see from the three pictures below that at some point they have painted over the fine woodwork of the posts and part of the rail.  This is a shame as it was really fine handcrafted pioneer woodwork.  You paint cheap wood to make it look good.  You should never paint fine woodwork as it makes it cheaper.  Hopefully at some point someone will have the presence of mind to have the paint stripped off and the original beautiful wood restored.

The next grand staircase is found in the Mesa Arizona Temple where the endowment rooms were built with the staircase in mind so you climb it during the ceremony.  As you can see in the picture, the celestial room doors are at the top with the scripture "The Glory of God is Intelligence" written above them.  There is also a large mural of Joseph Smith preaching to the Lamanites (Native Americans in this case).  I also notice the fine stone or tile lining the sides of the staircase.
The Hamilton New Zealand Temple (below left) and Kyiv Ukraine Temple (below right) have similar main staircases seen in the picture below.  A similar staircase is in the London England Temple and I would guess the Bern Switzerland Temple as well.  I really like how the Kyiv Ukraine Temple staircase brings you close to the fine stained glass windows and particularly the interesting elliptical windows.
The new Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple contains a double grand staircase in its center seen below.  The staircase has fine custom made brass railings and a stunning chandelier.  Light from both the celestial room and the chapel is carried into the heart of the temple where the staircase sits through glass walls.  Several temples use the same floor plan as this temple.  I've been to both the Boston Massachusetts Temple and the Preston England Temple and each has a single grand staircase in its center.  I recall Preston going up, reaching a certain level, and then splitting into two staircases perpendicular to the first (although it has been almost a decade since I was there last).  The Boston Temple is a very similar temple.  In Boston, the staircase starts as two curved staircases that meet midway up and continue as a single staircase.  In plan it would resemble a wishbone.  If you don't go on the staircase you can instead walk between the two and go to other parts of the temple.
The San Diego California Temple features a large, open-center, spiral grand staircase that can be seen below.  It occupies one of the towers and provides a great view up into the tower and good views of the art glass windows.

A lot of the newer small style temples include grand staircases.  Below from left to right are pictures of the staircases in the Curitiba Brazil Temple, Vancouver B.C. Canada Temple, and Panama City Panama Temple.  A similar staircase is found in the Twin Falls Idaho Temple.  I like the shape and general look of these staircases and am glad that even these very small temples can have nice grand staircases.
I'm sure there are other grand staircases in temples.  Please comment and tell us about them.  I learned at one point that grand staircases, particularly interesting ones such as spirals, were used in buildings to show the skill of those that built them and to make a place special.  Sure, a simple, ordinary staircase would have got people between floors, but a grand staircase, especially a complex one, said that the place was special enough to spend the money, time, and skill necessary to build such a staircase.  The House of the Lord is a special place and one way we can make it holy and honored and special for HIM is by including grand staircases.

14 comments:

The Tolmans said...

I left a comment below on your holy of holies article worth reading or so I think, but if possible I am very interested in this dome room spoken of in the salt lake temple created by the holy of holies below. I have look and looked for a picture of this room and what its original function was but have been unable to find a picture of it or it's function. I have heard that it has been changed in to a dressing room for the general authorities to use, I do not know if this is true or not but do you have a picture of this room and know any thing more about it.

Scott said...

Blogger lets me know when you comment on earlier posts, so I'll answer them. As for the dome room - it is used as a dressing room and to light the windows in the dome of the Holy of Holies. It is essentially wasted space that they have managed to use. I've seen pictures of it and will see about finding them again.

Travis Brinton said...

The San Diego Temple has three grand staircases: the gravity-defying marvel in the west tower, the one in the celestial room, and another one in the exact center of the building, on the lower level, that (if I recall correctly; it's been some years now) separates the unendowed-accessible portion from the endowed-members-only portion of the building.
This is off-topic, but the east and west towers of the San Diego Temple deserve mention. They're 200 feet tall, and the unique thing about them is that they're interior volumes--you can see all the way up to the top. The west tower houses the grand spiral staircase; the east tower is the celestial room. You don't get a sense of the immense height of the rooms from the photos, but there is one photo on the Hyndman & Hyndman website that shows a view looking up into the cupola above the celestial room. ...which also has these cool stalagtite-like things with opaque glass in the ends. So cool.
Back on topic, the Washington, D.C. Temple has six staircases, one in each tower, that each run the entire height of its seven floors. Four are emergency staircases only; the east and west staircases could be considered "grand" staircases. They're square and open in the middle. IMO, they'd be a lot cooler if they were true spiral staircases: circular instead of square and with continuous steps instead of interrupted by landings at every turn.

Bert said...

Thanks for the great blog. The last picture of the grand staircase in the Salt Lake Temple, reminded me that from where the picture is taken, is where the Savior appeared to Lorenzo Snow, as he was coming up the stairs, and turned to go back into the sealing offices.
It would be cool if you could do a post about some of the hanging artwork in the temples. For example, in the Salt Lake Temple, at the top of the above mentioned grand staircase the painter did not finish the sandals on anyone in the painting. Only the sole is painted on. Also I would love to know more about the "Adam-Ondi-Ahman" by Alfred Lambourne, hanging just as you enter the temple.

Scott said...

Now pictures would require me to do some research. I know about the paintings of Adam-Ondi-Ahman and The Hill Cumorah in the Salt Lake Temple (the artist painted 2 copies of each and the others are in the Church History Library). I know about the Logan Temple painting of Christ. St George has one of the Founding Fathers appearing to Wilford Woodruff. I'll write a note to do a post on paintings sometime, but it may take me months to get around to it.

Bert said...

No hurry of course, just a suggestion. I have really enjoyed your blog, and have learned a lot. As far as the "Adam-Ondi-Ahman" by Alfred Lambourne painting, what peaked my interest in it really started with wondering what the smoke from the fire represented. I haven't ever heard of anyone discussing it, so we may never know without being able to ask Alfred directly. A picture of this painting can be found on the church's website, in the March 2005 Ensign, page 33.

Sister F said...

I love the staircase in the St. George Temple leading from the dressing room level up to the celestial room (the one you would go down after finishing a session). I don't know that I'd call it grand, but its more interesting than a typical staircase.

Sister F said...

Sorry for two posts, but I just remembered the escalators in the Jordan River Temple... definately not grand (I always call that temple the 'fast food' temple, really convenient but not the fanciest).
Have you seen escalators in any other temples?

Scott said...

A few temples have had escalators. Jordan River still does. I've been told that Seattle has escalators as well. Ogden and Provo both used to have them, but they were removed and replaced with new staircases. While the Jordan River staircases aren't horrible, I like stairs better. My friend complained that the Seattle escalators were really loud.

Ky said...

One of the nicest grand staircases I have seen in in the Los Angeles California Temple. The entire building is built on an oversize, grand scale and the staircase is no exception. There are actually two grand staircases, as one goes from the dressing areas to the instruction room areas, and the other goes from the Celestial Room to the large Assembly Room above it.

SMR said...

It is true that the dome room in the Salt Lake temple is a dressing room today. When the temple first opened the room did supply light to the dome of the Holy of Holies as Scott said. It also supplied light to the upper half circle Tiffany windows in the celestial room. Also these half round windows stayed propped open and would help draw heat of the celestial room and out the windows in the dome room. Today these widows have been blocked from the back side and the air vents to the room come in from behind them and the air is sucked out from the back side of the little tables in the windows in the Celestial room.

The dome is really something to see. Even though the room had no temple purpose it still was fully decorated and was used for both cooling and lighting other rooms.

Jeffery Nielsen said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the two circular grand staircases in the Manti temple. They reach six and a half stories nigh and are located in the round columns on the west end of the temple. One turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise. They are extraordinary engineering marvels because they are both self supporting with no central support and the are not attached to the walls for support. There are only three self supporting staircases of their height in the western hemisphere. If you do a session in Manti, afterwards, ask a worker to see the staircases. They will happily take you to the bases of them where you can look up seven stories to a domed ceiling and admire their craftsmanship. The risers are wide enough to hold five people on one, and they were used all through the rededication in the 80's. They were designed by Scandinavian ship builders whose names have sadly been lost. Most persons forget that Manti was dedicated before the SLC Temple and is almost as grand. I have personally ascended one stair case to the seventh floor tower sealing room and descended the opposite staircase to exit. They are breataking. BTW, the tower room is open for dealings, but isn't very large, so request it if you don't have a large party witnessing the sealing.

Brian said...

I lived in Provo when that temple has escalators, then moved to the Seattle temple district. Seattle has escalators on the north and south sides of the building. I don't think they are particularly loud, but they seem loud in the near-silent environment.

How grateful I was, when I first toured the Vancouver Temple to have not just a grand staircase, but such a beautiful staircase!

Matthew Taylor said...

A picture of the Los Angeles Temple's Grand Staircase under construction, as well as many other pictures of this temple's murals and some of the Swiss Temple can be found here: http://archive.org/stream/improvementera5811sunse#page/n0/mode/1up