Two new temples in Utah, one in Ogden and the other in Provo, will be dedicated in January and February, 1972. They will serve members of the Church in the two most populous areas of the state outside of Salt Lake City, will relieve the tremendous pressures on the Salt Lake, Logan, and Manti temples, and will make it possible for work to be done for additional tens of thousands of dead each year.
It has been seventy-nine years since the last temple was completed and dedicated in Utah. That great edifice was the Salt Lake Temple, begun in 1853 and dedicated forty years later, on April 6, 1893, by President Wilford Woodruff. President Joseph Fielding Smith, who will direct the dedication of the two new temples, attended dedication services for the Salt Lake Temple as a young man of seventeen.
Since that time temples have been built in widely scattered places throughout the world—Hawaii, Canada, Arizona, Idaho, Los Angeles, Oakland, Switzerland, England, and New Zealand. Another temple now under construction near Washington, D.C., is expected to be completed in 1974. (See story, page 26.)
The desirability of furnishing additional temple facilities for Church members in Utah has been felt for many years. A hill northeast of downtown Provo was known as Temple Hill for many years. Dreams of seeing a temple there faded in 1904 when it was decided to make that the site of the Brigham Young University upper campus.
An article in the Deseret News datelined Ogden, May 16, 1921, reported: “A temple site was inspected in this city early Sunday morning by Presidents Heber J. Grant and Anthony W. Ivins, together with local Church officials.” It further revealed: “A movement has been on foot for a temple for this city for sometime past, owing to the great amount of activity of Church members in genealogical and temple work and the fact that only limited numbers can now be accommodated at the Salt Lake Temple. President Grant … announced that from $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 were now on application for other purposes and there was no telling when a temple could be built in Ogden.”
In 1966 studies showed that 52 percent of the temple ordinance work of the Church was done in the three temples in Salt Lake, Logan, and Manti, even though thirteen temples were in operation.
For some time thought was given to remodeling the Logan and Manti temples so that they could accommodate a larger number of people, but after a good deal of study it was determined that to significantly increase the capacities of the temples, the interiors would have to be completely torn out and redone, and it would not be practical to proceed with those ideas. Consequently, on August 14, 1967, under the authorization of President David O. McKay, meetings were held by President Hugh B. Brown and President N. Eldon Tanner, counselors in the First Presidency, with twenty-eight stake presidencies in the Provo area and a similar group of twenty-five stake presidencies in the Ogden area wherein it was proposed that the new temples be built. Also attending and participating were Mark B. Garff, chairman of the Church Building Committee, and Fred A. Baker, building committee vice-chairman.
It was explained to the stake presidencies that even though other areas of the Church were in need of temples, it was felt that the two temples proposed for Utah would serve the largest number of people. The stake presidencies wholeheartedly accepted the proposals and pledged full support and cooperation. President Albert L. Bott of the Mt. Ogden Stake and President Ben E. Lewis of Sharon East Stake were named chairmen of the finance committees, and President Keith W. Wilcox of the Weber Heights Stake and President Fred A. Schwendiman of the BYU Third Stake were named chairmen of the committees on arrangements.
Church members responded to the opportunity to contribute toward the building of the temples with great enthusiasm. One bishop discussed the quota for his ward in priesthood meeting, and by the time Sunday School was over, the total quota had been contributed in cash. One family had saved for a special vacation, but they voted in their family home evening to donate the total amount to the temple fund and save again for their postponed vacation. For Christmas of 1967 many families gave to the temple fund rather than to each other. Piggy banks were emptied, children’s savings accounts were donated, and the widow’s mite was contributed to make these beautiful buildings a reality.
Emil B. Fetzer, Church architect, was given the assignment to draw up plans for the new temples. To a Latter-day Saint architect this assignment afforded the greatest of opportunities and was approached with prayerful contemplation. It was an especially challenging task, for he was told by the First Presidency that even though the temples must accommodate large numbers of people, the costs must be kept at appropriately reasonable amounts. The temples were not to be as large or expensive as those in Oakland and Los Angeles, but they were to be full-size temples and not to be confused with the smaller temples of limited capacity, such as those built in New Zealand, Switzerland, and England.
In describing how the ideas for the temples came about, Brother Fetzer recalled: “I think this is the only building that I have designed in words before I started to put marks on paper. Soon after we were given the responsibility for the buildings, Brother Fred Baker and I had assignments in Europe, and we left New York about 11 o’clock one night. He and I sat together and talked all night about the new concepts to be used in the design for the temples. By the time we reached London, I had a basic outline in my mind for a building that I was going to start putting on paper when I got home.”
The concern first of all was not for the exterior appearance of the building, but rather for how efficiently it could carry out its functions, and for the convenience of temple patrons and workers. The plans, when completed, were presented to and approved by members of the First Presidency, who were so impressed with them that it was determined that both temples should be built from the same interior plans. It was realized that by using identical plans a good deal of money could be saved, and in addition this would mean that the starting and completion time of the second temple could be speeded up by at least a year and a half. Actually, the temples were started about the same time, and construction has moved along at a parallel pace. Detailed plans were drawn by the capable staff of architects, engineers, and draftsmen of the Church Architectural Department and associate engineering firms.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Ogden Temple were held on September 8, 1969, and the cornerstone was laid on September 7, 1970. For the Provo Temple the groundbreaking was on September 15, 1969, and the cornerstone was laid on May 21, 1971. General contractor for the Ogden Temple was the Okland Construction Company; for the Provo Temple, Hogan and Tingey.
Basically, the plans call for four floors, one below ground and three above. On the below-ground floor are the baptismal font, mechanical equipment, boiler room, laundry, kitchen, dining area, lockers for workers, and storage space. The main floor, which is 200 feet by 184 feet in size, contains the foyer and lobby, administrative and clerical offices, men’s locker rooms, women’s locker rooms, brides’ rooms, grooms’ instruction rooms, and waiting rooms. On the second floor are a chapel and thirteen sealing rooms. The top floor accommodates six ordinance rooms and the Celestial Room. Elevators run to all floors and escalators run between the three above-ground floors.
The design for the two upper floors is unique. Brother Fetzer said that the plan for these floors came from the idea of what he calls a Danish ellipse. During his travels he read about a new park being designed in Copenhagen that was completely surrounded by a roadway. It was not a circle, but an elongated ellipse. A modification of this idea turned out to be exactly what he needed to accommodate the rooms and corridors for these floors. As can be seen in the accompanying diagram of the top floor, the corridor runs completely around the outside wall. Entrances to the ordinance rooms are from the corridor. Brother Fetzer points out that it is almost impossible for a person to become confused or lost in the building and that the flow of workers and patrons is expected to take place in a most efficient and orderly manner.
Each of the ordinance rooms will seat eighty persons, and sessions will start at regular intervals, or when a room is filled, whichever is first. This means that there will be a minimum of waiting for a session to begin, no matter what time a person arrives at the temple.
It is interesting to note that these plans and procedures will permit these temples to accommodate about the same number of individuals in a day’s time as our largest temples. They are being built at a cost of just over $4 million each. Actually, this is about what the Salt Lake Temple construction cost so many years ago. It is estimated that to build a structure like the Los Angeles Temple today would cost in the neighborhood of $12 million.
Even though at first glance the exteriors of the two new temples look the same, a closer inspection will show that they are quite different. The arches and grillwork for the doors and windows on the main floors have different configurations. The cast stone on the Provo Temple has a bas relief floral design whereas the Ogden Temple stone has a fluted appearance. An interesting feature of the Ogden Temple is the decorative metal grillwork covering the windows between the cast stone on the third floor. The floral or fountain motif is repeated in the tower of the Provo Temple, and the fluted column effect is beautifully featured in the Ogden tower, giving the towers, which rise to a height of 180 feet above ground level, quite a different appearance.
Distinctive features of both the temples are the gold windows. This is a new directional glass that permits one to see from the dark to the light side. In the daytime from outside what one sees is a gold mirror reflection. At night the windows will be draped.
The appearance of the lighted buildings at night is spectacular, whether viewed from a distance or close up. The gold in the fiber glass towers reflects the light beautifully, and the floodlights directed on the cast stone emphasize the contrasting features. When the lights on the second floor of the buildings are turned out, the third floor has an appearance of floating above the first floor base. The Ogden Temple can also be lighted architecturally, as floodlights can be directed on the decorative bronze grills on the window panels.
It seems appropriate for the Ogden Temple to have been built on what is known as Tabernacle Square in downtown Ogden. This city block of ten acres has been owned by the Church since pioneer times. A tabernacle was built on the property in 1856, when there were fifty families in the little settlement. It was enlarged and remodeled many times and recently demolished. A new tabernacle, which the stakes in the Ogden area use for stake conferences and other functions, was completed on the square in 1956.
Today there are some 135,000 Church members in the greater Ogden area, which forms the Ogden Temple district. (See map and stakes on pages 16 and 17.)
For the Provo Temple the stake presidents selected and purchased a site of about 17 acres of sloping land north and east of the Brigham Young University campus near the mouth of Rock Canyon. It is interesting to note that whereas much of the land on all sides of the site has been divided and developed over the years, acreage of sufficient size was available for a temple when it was needed. The temple is within walking distance of the BYU campus and is expected to be used frequently by the many returned missionaries and married couples attending BYU.
As is customary, the two temples will be open for public showings prior to dedication. The showing for the Ogden Temple is between December 16 and 30, with the exception of Christmas day and Sundays. It will be dedicated in six sessions on January 18, 19, and 20. Sessions the first two days will be held at 10:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. and on the third day at 2:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. Because of the limited number who will be able to go into the temple for dedication, the Ogden Tabernacle will also be used.
Public showing for the Provo Temple will be held from January 10 to 29, with the exception of Sundays. Two dedicatory services will be held, at 2:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M., on February 9. The new special events center on the BYU campus, which seats 22,000 people, and the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse, if necessary, will accommodate those who attend the dedication. Closed-circuit, large-screen television will be used, both in the Ogden Tabernacle and in the special events center and the fieldhouse.
No one under the age of twelve will be permitted to attend the dedication services, and only those who receive recommends from their bishops will be issued tickets.
Dedication of the temples will be held under the direction of the First Presidency. General Authorities will attend all of the dedication sessions and will speak as assigned by the First Presidency. Different choirs will sing at each of the dedication ceremonies.
No date has been set for the beginning of ordinance work in the temples. The temple workers are being called and trained, and announcements as to when the temples will be ready for ordinance work will be made at a later date.