From the harsh red and black stone hills surrounding it, St. George’s valley is a green oasis. And the pristine whiteness of the temple in the heart of the city is a striking pinpoint, giving the wilderness a center and a focus.
President Brigham Young chose the site deliberately, even though preliminary excavations proved that water seepage endangered the stability of the foundations. But he held to it. He maintained that the site had been chosen by inspiration, and must be used. The pioneers rechanneled the water with a system of drains still in use today, filled the foundation with hard black volcanic rock, and pounded thousands of tons of lead into the boggy earth with an old cannon.
In some very significant ways, President Young had more to do with this temple than with other temples. He broke ground on 9 November 1871. He laid the cornerstone on 1 April 1874 and offered the dedicatory prayer. On 6 April 1877, the final dedication took place under his direction, with Daniel H. Wells, his counselor, offering the dedicatory prayer. (Completed portions had been dedicated a few months earlier, in January.)
Brigham Young had been ordained an apostle the year before the Kirtland Temple was dedicated and was deeply involved in the construction of the Nauvoo Temple; he selected the sites and directed the construction of the Salt Lake, Logan, and Manti temples. But the St. George Temple was the only one he oversaw from the beginning to dedication.
Truman O. Angell, the architect, designed it in a castellated Gothic style; it is built of native red sandstone plastered white. Miles P. Romney supervised the construction; Edward L. Parry was head stonemason.
The temple was remodeled to accommodate more users, and it was rededicated by President Spencer W. Kimball on November 11 and 12, 1975.