Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Logan Temple - Then and Now

The Logan Utah Temple was the 2nd temple built in Utah, the first with progressive endowment rooms and multiple towers (there are 6, although the octagonal corner towers are usually overlooked making people think that there are only 2).  It is a beautiful temple.  I received my bachelors and masters degrees from Utah State University in Logan so I have spent a lot of time at the Logan Temple and enjoy it.  The one thing I don't like is how the church gutted the building from 1977-1979 and replaced all the intricate hand carved ornamentation with incredibly simple decorations that don't match the exterior.  In some cases the church removed original pieces and instead of returning them they simply replaced them with downgraded components.  This seems crazy to me.  I should note that Spencer W. Kimball was the prophet at the time.  He said he regretted having the temple gutted.  Interestingly, a few years later the Manti Temple, a fraternal twin of the Logan Temple, was carefully restored instead of gutted.  The gutting the Logan Temple at least saved the Manti Temple.

I am hoping for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to restore the Logan Temple's beauty.  At minimum they could add moldings, door handles, etc. that match the style of the original temple.  I think they should really go further and completely restore it, or as close as possible.  The Nauvoo Temple was restored in this way.  While it is technically not the same floor plan as the original (originally endowments were performed in the attic and an assembly hall was on the 2nd floor where endowment rooms now are) it is close and follows the spirit of the original structure and the architecture matches the original architecture.  The Logan Temple could similarly be restored.

Here are pictures of the original Logan Temple Interior:

Original Baptismal Font
 The original baptismal font was a lot more ornate than the current version.  It is sitting in the Church Museum of History and Art.  I think it should be returned to the temple.

The original Logan Temple endowment rooms featured murals by pioneer artists.  Some were destroyed during the remodel.  Others still exist
Original Logan Temple Creation Room

Original Logan Temple Garden Room

Original Logan Temple World Room

Original Logan Temple Terrestrial Room

Orig Logan Temple Terr. Room Painting

Original Celestial Room
 The original celestial room was also nice with elegant arches and windows!  Chandeliers and art also graced the room.  The endowment rooms also had murals (which couldn't be saved as some were painted directly on the walls and not on canvas).  The endowment rooms were progressive for the first time in this temple with patrons going from the creation room to the garden room to the world room to the terrestrial room and finally to the celestial room.  Previously the endowment had been acted out in a large room divided by curtains.

Assembly Room
The original assembly room (which I am 95% sure is still on the top floor) echoed the style of the Kirtland Temple.

The original sealing rooms were very ornate.
Original "President's" Sealing Room

Original "Gold" Sealing Room
The Gold room was also called the Holy of Holies and may have been one at one time.  That is real hand applied gold leaf on the walls and not a wallpaper design.  Several fires damaged the room, but each time the gold leaf was re-done.  The stained glass window behind the sealer's and witnesses' chairs is one of several stained glass windows that were originally in the Logan Temple.  Several are now in the Church Museum of History and Art.  The rest are in the Manti Temple cafeteria (at least I'm fairly sure they were the same windows when I ate there).
Original Tower Sealing Room
The towers also originally contained small sealing rooms.

Original Door Knob
The original door knobs were ornately sculpted brass similar to those in the St. George, Manti and Salt Lake Temples.  The photo is one I took in the Church Museum of History and Art.  Why can't we put these on at least some doors of the Logan Temple?  Or at least make replicas to place on the doors.  We have recently added very detailed sculpted door knobs to new temples so I think we should add them back to the Logan Temple.  The current temple door knobs are smaller and have no ornamentation whatsoever.  They are extremely plain and pale in comparison to the original door knobs.  I think the current temple door knobs are even plain when compared to other temples built at the same time as the remodel such as the Jordan River Utah Temple.

Temple Window Arch in Museum
The original window arch moldings were carefully saved by the church and added to the Church Museum of History and Art.  The current moldings do not match the temple.  I think these moldings could easily be replicated and added to the temple during a remodel.

Original Ceiling Medallion
The original ceilings had exquisite hand carved details similar to those found in the Salt Lake Temple.  Here is a detail showing fruit and flowers sculpted into the ceiling medallion above a chandelier.  Yes, replicating these would cost money, but we just added this kind of detail to the Manhattan New York Temple so it is clearly in the church's means.

So there you have it, that gives you an idea of what the Logan Temple used to look like.  It had ornate pioneer craftsmanship that was painstakingly and carefully placed as an offering to God.  Unfortunately, that craftsmanship was torn out and given to museums and replaced with very boring and simple downgraded replacements. I don't like that the new temple is less nice than the original.  I think we should always leave things better than we were given them.

Current Celestial Room
Current Baptismal Font
Here is what they replaced the original nice temple interior with - a late 70s Celestial Room (which I like, but not in this context) and a late 70s fiberglass baptismal font.  This makes me sad.  The historical architecture of the building has been lost.  The new interior lacks the sacrifice for the beauty of the temple that made the original building so grand.  The hard work of the pioneers who built this temple has largely been undone.

Current Logan Temple Sealing Room
The current sealing rooms are OK but nowhere near as nice.  Also the whole current sealing floor uses too much cream color for my taste and doesn't have windows.  It seems dark.  I don't know why the church doesn't put the original stained glass windows back in the sealing rooms.  The sealing room pictured is the nicest in the current temple, with the rest less detailed.

One of my biggest desires is to hear one day that the Logan Temple is going to be remodeled to restore its former beauty.  Precedents have been set for this.  The Nauvoo Temple was rebuilt and restored despite the lack of many drawings and the remoteness of the temple.  As I recall, someone donated the money for the church to build the temple.  I suppose if someone gave the church a few million dollars specifically to restore the Logan Temple they probably would.  Also recently we have seen remodels of numerous temple - Santiago Chile, Atlanta Georgia, Ogden Utah.  These remodel projects are taking temples from a period of time when the church struggled financially and replacing their original plain interiors with new ornate, nice, detailed, temple quality interiors (and exteriors).  The Logan Temple was built around the same time as many of the temples currently being remodeled so seeing its interior re-gutted and restored to its original glory is certainly possible.  I even think that it is likely in the next 10 years, especially as the economy recovers.

As a bit of trivia - the Logan Temple is currently made of exposed dark stone in a random pattern.  Originally the temple was painted white (with a little red in the paint so I guess really light pink).  So originally the Logan Temple would have looked similar to the St. George Temple in color.  Logan's weather took its toll on the exterior paint and within a few years the whole exterior was peeling and looked horrible.  A decision was made to just let the paint wear off and so that is why we have the current exterior.  The stones are randomly placed because they were intended to be covered and never seen.  Otherwise they would have been carefully placed like those on the Manti Temple and Salt Lake Temple.  I'm fine with the current brown exterior with white towers.  It is actually interesting.  This does show one of many changes to the original temple.  I'd love to see it coated in white, but think that the brown look is probably a better look (and easier to maintain).  This does make me wonder how it would be if we did more temples with dark colors and light accents.

I know from my experience that the Logan Temple is well used with endowment sessions frequently crowded.  The Brigham City Utah Temple is being built to handle this overcrowding.  Likely, other temples will be needed to handle the Logan Temple crowds.  As these other temples are constructed, it will allow the church to restore the Logan Temple (which would decrease its capacity) while still meeting the needs of the saints.  The Logan Temple was carefully made into a beautiful holy edifice with careful craftsmanship intended to inspire the souls of the patrons.  It really is time to have that inspiring interior re-built.  I will concede that it will probably occur when a remodel is needed for other reasons (which could easily be now) or when someone donates the money to have it re-done.

Of course the primary purpose of the temple is to provide a place to perform saving ordinances for the living and the dead and the current temple does that.  But architecture plays a role in conveying the ideals taught in the temple to the patrons and inspiring them to live those ideals.  The original temple did this in a great way and was a powerful force for good (more powerful in my opinion than the current) amplifying the teachings of the temple through architecture, murals, symbolism, and beauty.  Hopefully this will be restored to the Logan Temple some day.


Brett Stirling said...

President Kimball regretted the loss of the pioneer craftsmanship.

Clark Herlin said...

The Logan Temple Assembly Hall is still in use. Go to this link:

Don said...

Clark, that blog is already gone. The link doesn't work.

Jim said...


I completely agree with you on the Logan Temple needs to be restored to it's original design. My wife and I visited the temple last April and did initiatories a session and some sealings.

As we drove up to it I was amazed at the beauty of the outside of the temple. I actually like the outside and the mismatched stones with the white towers.

Walking inside was another story however. While it was beautiful, it was beautiful in a 1970's sort of way. It was very underwhelming.

One thing that threw me off was the walking down the hall to the veil room. It threw me off a little.

While doing the sealings, our sealer told us where we were located in the building and originally there would have been a window behind him but was covered over during the remodeling. He talked about how he wished it was put back in, and have the building be put back to how it was.

I know it has been done in other temples. According to the Los Angeles temple was remodeled in 1981. "The addition of two rooms and audio visual equipment allowed sessions to begin every half hour in a stationary motion-picture presentation of the endowment.
In 2003, the Los Angeles California Temple was reverted to a progressive-style presentation of the endowment (still using film). The Terrestrial Room was completely renovated."
So if they did it for the Los Angeles Temple. They can do it for Logan.

I'm assuming the Brigham City temple will alleviate some of the congestion in the temple, and allow for the remodeling of the Logan Temple.

Love your blog, keep up the posts.

Anonymous said...

Please explain more about the murals. You say most were "destroyed in the remodel. Other still exist." Which ones still exist? I was under the impression that they were all removed in the major remodel.

Scott said...

In one of the Logan Temple books it states that the garden room murals (I think it was that room) were painted directly on plaster on the walls and couldn't be preserved. I believe it said that the other murals were all on canvas and were actually saved, although they are not in the current temple, but rather in archives. There was a painting of Christ in the terrestrial room that is now in the annex near the entrance.

Brian said...

I did not see it in your post, but the gutting of the temple was due to an electrical fire. From what I understand it did extensive damage and caused some structural issues.

Scott said...

Several fires damaged the Logan Temple over the years, but these had been repaired decades before gutting. Some structural issues may have remained, but probably would have been cheaper to repair than to gut and re-do. The major reason for the remodel was because the many staircases made it difficult for older or handicapped patrons to use the temple. Many just weren't going.
I'm confident that the church will restore the Logan Temple only without so many stairs.

Brian said...

I can see stairs being an issue, I noticed that in Manti, Salt Lake and Idaho falls, you move up in altitude, as you move "Up" in knowledge, I can only assume Logan did the same. With the way They have done the small temples and even new ones with Oquirrh Mountain and Draper, I can't imagine that at the very least they wont paint the walls. Murals in Garden and Terrestrial, then molding everywhere...

Unknown said...

I'm writing a book about the Logan Temple. I have obtain images which people took during the 1970's interior renovation. I have collected over 1,000 images of the Logan Temple, some when it was constructed in 1879 and after. I have also gathered stories and newspaper clippings via facsimileing or antique. You can visit my website @ The book will be a pictorial in full color and come out the end of this year.

Ryan said...

With recent and repeated comments from Elder Scott directly on this temple and the loss of it's original beauty and that the Brigham City temple is being constructed leads me to think it will be within the next 1-2 years that it is announced this temple is closing and will be correctly restored.

I was devastated when I went through a session at the Logan temple. I'd longed to go inside and a few years after my own endowment was in the area and able to do so. So disappointed at the wildly disparate interior from that of the exterior.

That whole era was a dark period architecturally for the church. Perhaps needed to never go that route again.

Anonymous said...

I am a contractor that does just finish work on Temples. I know the "master plan" was to fix Laie Hawaii, then Mesa Arizona, and then Logan. Hawaii was finished in 2010: At double the cost of tearing it down and building a new one. Mesa is next. Logan will be interesting, because it will be a "Re-Creation" not a restoration. See, Because of ADA compliance, they can't put in all the stairs. But they will make it what it "could have been." The project will start in 2013. Promise.

Anonymous said...

I really love the posts and pictures. I appreciate the insights concerning symbols and doctrines. I love the Logan Temple and albeit the Church has made decisions that members have disliked we really do not know the "whole picture" of the time. I think we should be a bit more cautious about speaking such diatribe and disgust with a decision of the past no matter how poor it seems to have been made.

It should be remember that the aesthetics of the temple are not a primary purpose of the Temple. The first purpose of the Temple is to gather Israel and Endow them with the power from God. They serve to adopt us into the Abrahamic Covenant and to offer us the blessings of exaltation. Everything else is secondary to that purpose--including the aesthetics.

Scott said...

I certainly didn't intend to have my language interpreted as "diatribe and disgust". I have revised the post and removed some language that was harsh and hope that it is now better. I added the final paragraph to echo some of your sentiments and tie them into my thesis, that the architecture of the Logan Temple helped the ordinances resonate and inspire better than the current architecture does.
My original comments were meant to support President Kimball's statement that he regretted having the temple gutted and losing the pioneer craftsmanship. Today the church goes to great lengths to preserve our heritage and architecture and has definitely been influenced by some decisions in the past including the loss of the Logan Temple architecture and pioneer craftsmanship.
It is also true that there is a larger picture. I found out that one major reason for the remodel was because the numerous stairs was making it difficult for the elderly to attend the temple. I think the church (based on President Kimball's comments) understands that some remodel was necessary to eliminate the stairs, but that it could have been done in a way that preserved murals and echoed the original architecture, even if the exact layout was altered. I also realize that the church didn't have as much money or other resources when this remodel was done, and that limited their restoration efforts. Recently temples have been restored and remodeled. I see a remodel of the Logan Temple, restoring most of its original beauty, being very likely in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

I am very grateful that you responded such the way you did. I hope that I did not come across as harsh either. I do agree that the message conveyed comes more clear when a patron of the Temple not only hears about the principles of sacrifice and dedication but sees it in action. As you pointed out in response to my previous concern, the Logan Temple was a unique Temple at not only teaching but showing what sacrifice, dedication, and consecration really is about. Again, I check your blog often and welcome the insights. I also welcome the idea that the Logan Temple has a fantastic heritage and a beautiful exterior with a somewhat underwhelming interior. I think that the reason I posted it was more or less because I have felt the same way in the past both with the interior/exterior of the Temple. Like you (I am assuming--which may not be right and please correct me if I am wrong), I enjoy the rich heritage of The Church and feel sometimes that as members we forget that heritage: or at the very least, we do not consider it enough. Fantastic insights! I am a fan and hope that I did not offend you--I just wanted to caution readers and bloggers alike to not make the same mistakes that I have in the past and come to think that Temple work is all about me--I am taught along the way yet that purpose runs parallel to an equally glorious purpose: to redeem the dead. It is much like the mission. I am overjoyed when I think that the Lord made the missionary program the way that he did: the primary purpose is to bring others into the Church, yet along the way the way he also trains young men and women to become more righteous saints and more valiant leaders. Your final paragraph is fantastic and I do know that the 80s was a time of financial and spiritual hardship of the Church out of which decisions were made that may need to be reversed; however, as you have pointed out elsewhere on this site--the Lord's purposes are perfect and His Church will not be lead in forbidding paths. (By the way, love the tribute to The Portland Temple--that is where I was endowed and therefore, I know the difference that it makes when there are magnificent murals and room progression vs. one room). Thanks again!

Mark Shields said...

@ Anonymous' comment from October 30, I can't imagine the Mesa temple closing for any real period of time. It is extremely busy, and we're still at least a way from having the Gilbert and Phoenix temples open to take the load off. The '91 remodeling brought back a lot of the earlier artwork, so it would be very interesting to see what else could be done to restore it.

By the way, I have to commend you on this site. I absolutely love it. Thank you so much for your great work.

D1Warbler said...

As someone who did baptisms for the dead as a USU Freshman in the original Logan Temple font; became engaged on the original Logan Temple grounds; was married in the President's Sealing Room of the Logan Temple and then spend the next 11 years joyfully worshiping in that Temple, the gutting of that Temple was very, very difficult. I had to go through the open house about 20 times before I could go through without crying through the entire tour. Fortunately, just before it was gutted, my husband and I were led by one of the Temple workers on a tour which included the Assembly hall, and the turret sealing room which overlooked the very area in which my husband proposed to me. Because of that tour, when the Temple was re-dedicated in 1978, because I was a member of one of the Temple Dedication Choirs, I was able to attend the Dedication while sitting in the Assembly Room -- which was just as I remembered it. I know that there were good reasons for the Brethren to do what they did to the Logan Temple during that remodel, but it was still extremely difficult to deal with for those who were sentimentally attached to that beautiful edifice. It also didn't help that when the usable items from the Temple were sold, they were taken to the Provo DI, and the people in Logan who would have loved to have something from that interior weren't even told that they were taken there.

The modern interior was, and still is, a jarring contrast to the pioneer exterior; which is why many of us who remembered the interior as it was had a hard time "loving" the new interior.

However, all of that said, new or old, original or remodeled, the Logan, Utah Temple is still just a building. It is the ordinances given within such structures which are the most important, and they can be given in buildings as ornate as the Manti and the Salt Lake Temple, or as utilitarian as the St. Paul, Minnesota Temple (the smaller Temples are really quite utilitarian in design and decoration when compared to some of the larger Temples -- unless we are talking about the smaller historical Temples like the Palmyra and the Winter Quarter's Temples).

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like the current assembly hall is the original. Here's an excerpt from the working draft of "Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball" (the draft is on the CD accompanying the book):
"In fall 1974 the First Presidency asked Emil Fetzer to propose plans for remodeling the Logan Temple, in service since 1884, so that films could be shown as part of the endowment ceremony. Over weeks he failed to conceive a suitable plan. Finally he considered the radical solution of removing all the interior divisions...
"...the floor of the solemn assembly room on the top level had structural defects that required complete removal of that level. Then they discovered that...the whole roof except for the main timber trusses had to be removed....As Fetzer...stood in the dirt of the basement level and looked up to see open sky through the skeleton roof trusses, he says, "I was horribly shocked,...shaken at the boldness and the audacity that I had in proposing such an extreme and drastic manner for changing a temple...yet, I knew that it was right.""
(Ch. 35, Pg. 23)

Paul said...

Thank you for this entry and the pics! I've lived in Logan most my life and frequent the Logan Temple often but have never seen much for pictures of it's former glory. I really hope that one day this re-beautification will happen!!

Anonymous said...

The entire Logan Temple was gutted including the assembly hall level. But because the assembly room level was not to have any major changes in the rebuild the majority of the woodwork, pulpits, etc. were saved and reused in the reconstructed room. So the assembly hall still has much of that pioneer craftsmanship and looks basically the same as it always has. On the other hand the rest of the temple was so heavily modified and rearranged that little to nothing of what was salvaged before the gutting could be used in the rebuild. The St. George Temple is similar in that the lower levels (the baptistry and current endowment rooms) have been heavily modified throughout the years, although the upper levels (sealing rooms and assembly hall) haven't seen much change since the temple first opened. The only difference is the St. George Temple was not gutted, so unlike the Logan Temple its assembly room is 100% original, not reconstructed with original parts.

Unknown said...

My parents and maternal and paternal grandparents were all married and sealed in the original Logan Temple. The remodel was and continues to be disappointing, but todays standards. We need to remember that the renovation took place when the economy was poor and the Church had to use the resources that could be expended at that time. The original temples rooms were carefully photographed and have been recently digitalized and are in the Church Historians office. I predict that the day will come that we will see a complete restoration back to its pioneer roots, including a reproduction of the murals and the ornate sealing rooms. When the late 1970's renovation began the newly dedicated Ogden Temple was operating at 110% of capacity and the need for a "working" temple was crucial. The Church did not have the capital to build another "working" temple in close proximity to the Logan Temple and this was converted to a "working" temple. President Kimball was a friend of my family and he personal told us that one of his regrets was the conversion of the Logan Temple to a "working" temple. With the technology that we have today and the craftsmanship that has been developed over the past decade we will see the Logan Temple restored.

Martin said...

I just found your blog. Great commentary. I love looking over historical records. Is there any way you can make your pictures "larger". It was just hard to see what the temple rooms looked like, even on my computer.

I second your point about gutting the temple. Just because the brethren decided to do it, doesn't mean every aspect of construction was "inspired". Ease and cost may have been factors, but they don't have to be the most deciding factors.

At this moment the Idaho Falls Temple is being redone. We have been told that they are keeping the murals and returning it to look much like it did originally, but with new infrastructure.

HartSki said...

I was living in Logan when the remodel was announced. I think they wanted to tear down the building to begin with but the Saints in Logan wanted it preserved. My friend worked on gutting the Temple building and I remember how sad I felt watching the work done. I to this day do not understand why the pioneer work was demolished. I know the Church can fix this as they have the funds and have demonstrated it on other buildings - Provo Tabernacle restoration for example. I would love to see the Logan Temple brought back to its historical pioneer splendor and beauty. I love the new Temples also but these original ones and one of one. Thanks for your blog and information.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments in this blog. I have lived in the Logan Area since 1981, and have only known this pioneer era temple in it's present configuration. I was always puzzled as to why this temple had such an underwhelming interior compared to other pioneer era temples.

I just returned from a trip to the Manti temple. I was so inspired with the interior of that temple. I wanted to find photos and other information as to the original Pioneer configuration of the Logan Temple, and came across your blog. One of the temple workers in Manti told me President Gordon B. Hinkley was down there to Manti weekly when that temple went through a re-model specifically because the First Presidency did not want to have happen to Manti what happened to Logan in the 1970's.

I hope the Church will restore the Logan Temple to it's former glory. The interior needs to match the exterior and honor the pioneer sacrafice that built the temple.

Megan said...

Welcome to 2019! President Nelson did announce in the April conference that the Logan Temple will be restored. Hooray!