To meet the needs of a growing and diverse membership, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has evolved its approach to temple construction and design over the years. This brief article examines major design phases of Latter-Day Saint temple construction.
Temples of the Restoration
The first temples of the modern Church were built as places of instruction and traditional worship, which featured large assembly and instruction halls. When the endowment ceremony was introduced, partitions were used to form the various endowment rooms. These temples include the Kirtland Temple (1836), which fell out of Church ownership, and is now owned by the Community of Christ; the Nauvoo Temple (1846), which was destroyed by arsonists and rebuilt over 150 years later as the Nauvoo Illinois Temple (2002); and the St. George Utah Temple (1877), which has been remodeled inside to function as temples do today.
To better function for the presentation of the endowment, temples built by the Utah pioneers featured progressive-style endowment rooms where instruction was given by live presenters. Large priesthood assembly rooms remained a feature in these temples, located above the endowment rooms. East and west towers represented the priesthood while battlements along the north and south walls gave the appearance of a castle fortified against the forces of evil. These temples include the Logan Utah Temple (1884), Manti Utah Temple (1888), and Salt Lake Temple (1893).
Mormon Settlement Temples
After the turn of the century, the Church recognized the growth of its membership in more distant settlements by building a temple for the first time outside the state where Church headquarters was located. This temple, located in Laie, Hawaii (1919), was based on a design for a temple already under construction in Alberta, which retained progressive-style muraled endowment rooms but was much smaller, having no assembly hall nor any towers or spires. Temple dedications followed the Hawaiian dedication in Cardston, Alberta (1923), Mesa, Arizona (1927), and Idaho Falls, Idaho (1945). The Idaho Falls temple did feature a tower, which was patterned after an ancient Nephite temple beheld by the architect in vision.
Taking a temple to Europe brought a special challenge, as the staff and training required to present the endowment in various languages would be too difficult in an area where Latter-days Saints were few and scattered. Gordon B. Hinckley was given the challenge to overcome this obstacle, which he did through inspiration, conceiving the idea of using film to present the endowment. The idea was first realized in Bern Switzerland Temple (1955), and then followed in Hamilton, New Zealand (1958) and London, England (1958).
In the late 1960s, it was clear that Utah's historic temples were operating above capacity, and Church members east of the Rockies still had to come west to attend the temple. This burden was lightened with three new Utah temples and an East Coast temple, each featuring an unprecedented six endowment rooms: the Ogden Utah Temple (1972), Provo Utah Temple (1972), Washington D.C. Temple (1974), and Jordan River Utah Temple (1981).
Temples of the Pacific
Growth of the Church in the Pacific was recognized in the late 1970s, prompting the announcement of the Samoa Temple, which would serve as a regional temple for the Pacific Islands. After reconsideration, plans for this temple were replaced with plans for three smaller temples for the region: the Apia Samoa Temple (1983), Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple (1983), and Papeete Tahiti Temple (1983). This design was also taken to the east side of the Pacific in Santiago, Chile (1983).
President Spencer W. Kimball initiated an aggressive international temple building program in the mid-1980s using a detached six-spire, sloping roof design that brought temples to all habitable continents of the world for the first time. These temples include the Boise Idaho Temple (1984), Manila Philippines Temple (1984), Dallas Texas Temple (1984), Taipei Taiwan Temple (1984), Guatemala City Guatemala Temple (1984), Stockholm Sweden Temple (1985), Chicago Illinois Temple (1985), Johannesburg South Africa Temple (1985), Seoul Korea Temple (1985), Lima Perú Temple (1986), Buenos Aires Argentina Temple (1986), and Frankfurt Germany Temple (1987), which features a single detached spire only.
Smaller and Remote-Area Temples
After President Gordon B. Hinckley's announcement of his "smaller and remote-area" temple concept, a 6,800-square-foot temple with one endowment room and one sealing room was constructed in Monticello, Utah (1998). Similarly designed buildings were also built in Anchorage, Alaska (1999), and Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua, México (1999). The Monticello and Anchorage temples have since been enlarged to two endowment rooms.
New Generation Temples
While remodeling the narrow Uintah Stake Tabernacle into the Vernal Utah Temple (1997) where plans for side-by-side endowment rooms had to be rethought, the idea of in-line, progressive-style endowment rooms was introduced as an efficient layout for limited-space temples. This concept was incorporated into a 10,700-square-foot temple design with two progressive endowment rooms and two sealing rooms, which became the new-generation temple design that was built the world over in 44 locations. A two-story adaptation was built in Caracas Venezuela Temple (2000); Winter Quarters, Nebraska (2001); and Snowflake, Arizona (2002).
Modified New Generation Temples
Today's similarly designed temples are yet another adaptation of the new generation design, which feature more impressive spires and additional space, about 7,000 more square feet. The use of murals in the endowment rooms was also reintroduced. This design is seen in Columbia River, Washington (2001); Lubbock, Texas (2002); Monterrey, México (2002); Redlands, California (2003); Accra, Ghana (2004); San Antonio, Texas (2005); Newport Beach, California (2005); Sacramento, California (2006); and Helsinki, Finland (2006).