It started with a statistic: with millions of members scattered over every continent, 52 percent of all the ordinance work done in temples in the mid-60s occurred in just three cities: Salt Lake, Logan, and Manti. The First Presidency decided to build two temples, not one, and locate one at each end of the Wasatch Front in Ogden and Provo. These temples are twins, 115,000 square feet distributed over four floors in 283 rooms. A rounded structure for the ordinance rooms rests on a square base with a single gold-anodized aluminum tower. Small ordinance rooms, designed for the endowment, cluster around the celestial room in a space-efficient design.
The cornerstone was laid in Ogden on 7 September 1970, eight months before the same ceremony was performed in Provo, and it was dedicated January 18–20, 1972, with two sessions each day, President Joseph Fielding Smith giving the dedicatory prayer.
In many ways, these modern structures have expanded our mental associations of “temple.” Centrally located in downtown Ogden amidst the businesses and institutions of man, the Ogden Temple effectively symbolizes the power of the gospel to reach down and out to the daily life of each of us, to bless, guide, and protect us as we walk and work and live in the real work-a-day world. The temple’s modern design and materials focus our attention on the covenants made within rather than on monumentality or pioneer origins many think of with nineteenth-century temples. It testifies, architecturally, that a temple is more than a style or collection of symbols. It is a house—of many shapes—for power and knowledge.
As Truman G. Madsen, holder of the Richard L. Evans Chair of Christian Understanding at Brigham Young University, puts it, “The Temple is not just a union of heaven and earth. It is the key to our mastery of the earth. It is the Lord’s graduate course in subduing the earth, which as only we understand ultimately will be heaven—this earth glorified.”
Sources: “Ogden Temple File,” material collected by Anna Mae Robison, Church library; Truman G. Madsen, “House of Glory,” BYU 10-Stake Fireside, March 5, 1972.