The Salt Lake Temple is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) located on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. At Template:Convert, it is the largest LDS temple by floor area. Dedicated in 1893, it is the sixth temple completed by the church, requiring 40 years to complete, and the fourth temple built since the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846.[1]


File:Salt Lake Temple model - 2 March 2013.jpg

Cutaway model showing the interior layout of the temple

The Salt Lake Temple is the centerpiece of the Template:Convert Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. Like other LDS temples, it is considered sacred by the church and its members and a temple recommend is required to enter, so there are no public tours inside the temple as there are for other adjacent buildings on Temple Square. In 1912, the first public photographs of the interior were published in the book The House of the Lord, by James E. Talmage.[2] Since then, various photographs have been published, including by Life magazine in 1938.[3] The temple grounds are open to the public and are a popular tourist attraction.[4] Due to its location at LDS Church headquarters and its historical significance, the Temple is patronized by Latter-day Saints from many parts of the world. The Salt Lake Temple is also the location of the weekly meetings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.[5]Template:R As such, there are special meeting rooms in the building for these purposes, including the Holy of Holies, which are not present in other temples.

The temple includes some elements thought to evoke Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem. It is oriented towards Jerusalem and the large basin used as a baptismal font is mounted on the backs of twelve oxen, as was the Molten Sea in Solomon's Temple (see Chronicles 4:2–4). (However, the literal interpretation of the Biblical verses has been disputed.)[6] At the east end of the building, the height of the center pinnacle to the base of the angel Moroni is 210 feet,[7] or 120 cubits,[8] making this Temple 20 cubits taller than the Temple of Solomon.[9]


The official name of the Salt Lake Temple is also unique. In 1999, as the building of LDS temples accelerated, the church announced a formal naming convention for all existing and future temples. For temples located in the United States and Canada, the name of the temple is generally the city or town in which the temple is located, followed by the name of the applicable state or province (with no comma). For temples outside of the U.S. and Canada, the name of the temple is generally the city name (as above) followed by the name of the country. However, for reasons on which the church did not elaborate, the Salt Lake Temple was made an exception to the new guidelines and was not renamed the "Salt Lake City Utah Temple".[10] (The Provo City Center Temple is the only other temple that does not include a state, province, or country in the temple's name.)[11]


The temple is located in downtown Salt Lake City, with several mountain peaks close by. Nearby, a shallow stream, City Creek, splits and flows both to the west and to the south, flowing into the Jordan River. There is a wall around the Template:Convert temple site. The surrounding wall became the first permanent structure on what has become known as Temple Square. The wall is a uniform 15 feet high but varies in appearance because of the southwest slope of the site.[12]


The temple is considered the house of God and is reserved for special ceremonies for practicing Latter-Day Saints. The main ordinance rooms are used during the endowment ceremony—namely the garden, telestial, terrestrial, and celestial rooms in that order of use.[13][14] A washing and anointing ceremony is also administered, and until 1921, the rooms were also used for healing rituals of washing and anointing for the sick or pregnant and were administered by women and men.[15]Template:Rp The temple also serves as a place for marriage sealing ceremonies for live and deceased persons. Additional uses include functioning as a location for baptisms for the dead, baptisms for health (until being discontinued in 1921),[16]Template:Rp and, briefly, for re-baptism for the renewal of covenants.[16]Template:Rp Other rituals performed in the temple include the second anointing ordinance for live and deceased persons,[17] and meeting rooms for church leaders.[18]Template:Rp[19]Template:Rp

Temple construction and dedication[]

File:Granite for temple.jpg

Granite for temple being quarried at Little Cottonwood Canyon (1872)

The location for the temple was first marked by Mormon prophet Brigham Young, the second president of the church, on July 28, 1847, just four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1901 the apostle Anthon H. Lund recorded in his journal that "it is said" that Oliver Cowdery's divining rod was used to locate the temple site.[20] The temple site was dedicated on February 14, 1853 by Heber C. Kimball. Groundbreaking ceremonies were presided over by Young, who laid the cornerstone on April 6 of that year.[21] The architect was Truman O. Angell, and the temple features both Gothic and Romanesque elements.

Sandstone was originally used for the foundation. During the Utah War, the foundation was buried and the lot made to look like a plowed field to prevent unwanted attention from federal troops. After tensions had eased in 1858 and work on the temple resumed, it was discovered that many of the foundation stones had cracked, making them unsuitable for use. Although not all of the sandstone was replaced, the inadequate sandstone was replaced. The walls are quartz monzonite (which has the appearance of granite) from Little Cottonwood Canyon, located twenty miles (32 km) southeast of the temple site. Oxen transported the quarried rock initially, but as the Transcontinental Railroad neared completion in 1869 the remaining stones were carried by rail at a much faster rate.[21]

File:Salt-lake-temple details.jpg

A plaque with construction details

The capstone—the granite sphere that holds the statue of the Angel Moroni—was laid on April 6, 1892, by means of an electric motor and switch operated by Wilford Woodruff, the church's fourth president, thus completing work on the temple's exterior. The Angel Moroni statue, standing Template:Convert tall, was placed on top of the capstone later the same day.[22] At the capstone ceremony it was proposed by Woodruff that the interior of the building be finished within one year, thus allowing the temple to be dedicated forty years to the day of its commencement. John R. Winder was instrumental in overseeing the completion of the interior on schedule; he would serve as a member of the temple presidency until his death in 1910. Woodruff dedicated the temple on April 6, 1893, exactly forty years after the cornerstone was laid.[21]


The Salt Lake Temple incorporates many symbolic adornments including Masonic symbols.[23]Template:Rp[24]Template:Rp Symbolism is an important subject in the LDS faith.[25] These symbols include the following:

File:Salt Lake Temple Symbols.png

Infographic of the locations and details of some Salt Lake Temple exterior symbols.

  • All-Seeing Eye – The center tower on each side contains a depiction of the All-Seeing Eye of God representing how God sees all things.[26]Template:Rp[1]
File:East Elevation of the Temple.jpg

Original 1854 design of the East side showing the horizontal angel, sun faces, earth details, and compass and square window details. These elements were later modified or removed.

  • Angel Statue – The golden Angel Moroni placed on the capstone of the temple symbolizes the angel mentioned in Template:Sourcetext that will come to welcome in the Second Coming of Christ. Early architectural plans showed two horizontally flying angels[27][28][29] and the earliest references to the Salt Lake Temple's angel were always Gabriel. The original blueprint drawings intended the angel to be wearing temple ceremonial clothing like the angel on the Nauvoo temple, but W.H. Mullin's 12.5-foot statue wears a crown instead of a temple cap that was originally built with a bright light creating a halo effect at night.[30]
  • Beehive – The beehive symbol (which appears on the Utah state seal) appears on external doors and doorknobs and symbolizes the thrift, industry, perseverance, and order of the Mormon people.[31][24]Template:Rp
  • Big Dipper – On the west side of the temple the Big Dipper appears, which represents how the priesthood can help people find their way to heaven as the constellation helped travelers find the North Star.[32][24]Template:Rp The uppermost stars on the temple's constellation align with the actual North Star.[33]
  • Compass and Square – Early plan drawings of the temple show the Masonic arrangements of a compass and square placed around the second and fourth floor windows,[24]Template:Rp but the plans were changed during construction.[24]Template:Rp These symbols had appeared on the Nauvoo Temple weathervane.[24]Template:Rp
  • Clasped Hands – Above each external door and doorknob appears the "hand clasp," which is a representation of covenants that are made within temples or brotherly love.[24]Template:Rp
  • Clouds – On the east side of the temple are "clouds raining down" representing the way God has continued revelation and still speaks to man "like the rains out of Heaven"[1] or alternatively a veil of ignorance or sin.[24]Template:Rp
  • Earths – The earthstones in the lower buttresses have been interpreted as the gospel of Christ spreading over the whole Earth.[24]Template:Rp
File:South Elevation of the Temple.jpg

An original 1854 elevation plan showing the saturn stones, earth stone detail, sun faces, and square and compass window accents. These elements were later discarded.

  • Saturns – Early drawings and a written description by Angell showed Saturnstones along the top tier of the temple,[18]Template:Rp[34] though the design was changed years later.[35]Template:Rp[36]Template:Rp
  • Spires – The six spires of the temple represent the power of the priesthood. The three spires on the east side are a little higher than those on the west: they represent the Melchizedek, or "higher priesthood", and the Aaronic, or "preparatory priesthood" respectively. The three spires on the east side represent the church's First Presidency and the twelve smaller spires on those three represent the Twelve Apostles.[37]
  • Sun, Moon, and Stars – Around the temple there are several carved stones depicting the sun, moon, and stars which correspond respectively to the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms of glory in the afterlife.[38][24]Template:Rp The sunstones have also been interpreted to represent God, the moonstones in different phases as representing different phases of life, and the starstones representing Jesus Christ.[1] These symbols were drawn from the three lesser lights symbols in the Freemasonry practiced by many early church leaders in Nauvoo.[39] Additionally, five-pointed stars have traditionally represented the five wounds of Christ (hands, feet, and side) and the five-pointed star with an elongated downward ray found on several LDS temples has been interpreted to represent Christ coming to Earth.[33]Template:Rp


The temple has been damaged by two separate bombing incidents. The first was indirect damage from a bomb on April 10, 1910 at the nearby Hotel Utah (now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building). This damaged the trumpet of the Moroni statue atop the temple.[40] The second was on November 14, 1962, when at about 1:30 AM, the southeast door of the Salt Lake Temple was bombed.[41][42] FBI agents state that the explosive had been wrapped around the door handles on the southeast entrance of the temple.[41] The large wooden entrance doors were damaged by flying fragments of metal and glass. Damage to interior walls occurred 25 feet inside the temple, but damage to the interior was minor.[41] Eleven exterior windows were shattered.[41] Some members of the LDS Church believed the incident was related to violence surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, the nation's racial strife,[42] and the church's priesthood restriction, based on race, in effect at the time.

1962 Renovation[]

The Salt Lake Temple has been renovated many times since its original dedication. The most extensive renovation took place from 1962 to 1966. The temple was rededicated and an addition for sealing rooms was placed alongside the north side of the temple.

1999 Salt Lake City tornado[]

Template:Further The temple suffered light to moderate damage in 1999 when a tornado rated F2 on the Fujita Scale struck Salt Lake City around 12:45 PM. A wedding ceremony taking place at the time allowed one of the photographers taking photographs of the new couple to record video of the tornado as it passed near the temple, forcing the bride and groom and everyone with them to shelter against the temple doors and pillars for protection from the wind and debris. They were unable to be allowed inside to take shelter as the temple doors were locked at the time. Despite being pelted with rain and hail, everyone survived, and were able to then come out to look at the damage to many of the trees around the temple grounds and surrounding buildings before resuming the ceremony. [43][44]

2019 Renovation Closure[]

Interior images[]

Below are several photographs from the interior of the temple. In response to a member obtaining unauthorized images of the interior of the temple, church leaders decided to release the book The House of the Lord in 1912, which contained authorized black-and-white photographs of the interior, some of which are shown below.[19]Template:Rp[45]Template:Rp[18]Template:Rp The unauthorized photographs had been taken over several months the year before by a man who was repeatedly allowed to enter with his camera while the temple was closed by a temple gardener friend.[45]Template:Rp

Temple District[]

The Salt Lake Temple serves members from 61 stakes and 1 district headquartered in the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Area and Northeastern Nevada:

Salt Lake Metro Area[]

  1. Cottonwood Heights Utah Brighton Stake
  2. Cottonwood Heights Utah Wasatch Stake
  3. Salt Lake Stake
  4. Salt Lake Big Cottonwood Stake
  5. Salt Lake Bonneville Stake
  6. Salt Lake Bonneville YSA Stake
  7. Salt Lake Butler Stake
  8. Salt Lake Butler West Stake
  9. Salt Lake Cannon Stake
  10. Salt Lake Canyon Rim Stake
  11. Salt Lake Central Stake
  12. Salt Lake Cottonwood Stake
  13. Salt Lake Cottonwood Heights Stake
  14. Salt Lake East Mill Creek Stake
  15. Salt Lake East Mill Creek North Stake
  16. Salt Lake Emigration Stake
  17. Salt Lake Ensign Stake
  18. Salt Lake Foothill Stake
  19. Salt Lake Granite Stake
  20. Salt Lake Granite Park Stake
  21. Salt Lake Grant Stake
  22. Salt Lake Highland Stake
  23. Salt Lake Hillside Stake
  24. Salt Lake Holladay Stake
  25. Salt Lake Holladay North Stake
  26. Salt Lake Holladay South Stake
  27. Salt Lake Holladay YSA Stake
  28. Salt Lake Liberty Stake
  29. Salt Lake Little Cottonwood Stake
  30. Salt Lake Married Student Stake
  31. Salt Lake Millcreek Stake
  32. Salt Lake Monument Park Stake
  33. Salt Lake Mount Olympus Stake
  34. Salt Lake Olympus Stake
  35. Salt Lake Parleys Stake
  36. Salt Lake Pioneer Stake
  37. Salt Lake Pioneer YSA Stake
  38. Salt Lake Riverside Stake
  39. Salt Lake Rose Park Stake
  40. Salt Lake Rose Park North Stake
  41. Salt Lake South Cottonwood Stake
  42. Salt Lake Valley View Stake
  43. Salt Lake Wilford Stake
  44. Salt Lake Winder Stake
  45. Salt Lake Winder West Stake

Summit County, Utah[]

  1. Kamas Utah Stake
  2. Park City Utah Stake

Tooele County, Utah[]

  1. Erda Utah Stake
  2. Grantsville Utah Stake
  3. Grantsville Utah West Stake
  4. Stansbury Park Utah Stake
  5. Stansbury Park Utah South Stake
  6. Tooele Utah Stake
  7. Tooele Utah East Stake
  8. Tooele Utah North Stake
  9. Tooele Utah South Stake
  10. Tooele Utah Valley View Stake
  11. Tooele Utah West Stake
  12. Wendover Utah District

Eastern Nevada[]

  1. Elko Nevada East Stake
  2. Elko Nevada West Stake

Temple presidents[]

Template:Unreferenced Template:Div col

  1. Lorenzo Snow, 1893–98
  2. Joseph F. Smith, 1898–1911
  3. Anthon H. Lund, 1911–21
  4. George F. Richards, 1921–38
  5. Stephen L. Chipman, 1938–45
  6. Joseph Fielding Smith, 1945–49
  7. Robert D. Young, 1949–53
  8. ElRay L. Christiansen, 1953–61
  9. Willard E. Smith, 1961–64
  10. Howard S. McDonald, 1964–68
  11. O. Leslie Stone, 1968–72
  12. John K. Edmunds, 1972–77
  13. A. Ray Curtis, 1977–82
  14. Marion D. Hanks, 1982–85
  15. Victor L. Brown, 1985–87
  16. Edgar M. Denny, 1987–90
  17. Spencer H. Osborn, 1990–93
  18. George I. Cannon, 1993–96
  19. Carlos E. Asay, 1996–99
  20. Derrill H. Richards, 1999
  21. W. Eugene Hansen, 1999–2002
  22. L. Aldin Porter, 2002–05
  23. M. Richard Walker, 2005–08
  24. Sheldon F. Child, 2008–11
  25. Oren Claron Alldredge Jr., 2011–14
  26. Cecil O. Samuelson, 2014–17
  27. B. Jackson Wixom, 2017–present

Template:Div col end

See Also[]


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  2. Talmage, James. The House of the Lord. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1912
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  20. Anthon H. Lund Journal, July 5, 1901, cited by BYU Prof. D. Michael Quinn
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