Kirtland Mormon Temple
Construction on the Kirtland Mormon Temple was started in 1833 and completed in 1836. It was the first temple built by the Latter-day Saints. It was dedicated on Sunday, March 27, 1836. Although the temple could hold almost a thousand people, not everyone who wanted to attend was able to fit inside the temple, so the dedicatory services were repeated on the following Thursday. The temple was not used as LDS temples are used today. The Kirtland Temple was used for numerous church purposes. The main floor was used for Sabbath day and other worship services, the second floor was used as a school to teach people doctrine, and the third floor was used as a school during the day and as a place for quorum meetings in the evening. It was also a sacred building. Nearly half of all the revelations which make up the Doctrine and Covenants were received in Kirtland. By the time the Kirtland Temple was built, Joseph Smith had not received all the Lord would eventually reveal regarding the purpose of temples. Preparatory covenants and ordinances were practiced there.
At the time that the temple was completed, it was one of the largest buildings in Northern Ohio. It was also one of the more beautiful buildings in the area. Two sets of pulpits were installed on the ground floor, and the benches were made so that they could be turned to face either the front or back pulpit. Building the Kirtland temple was a huge sacrifice for the Latter-day Saints, but as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88:119, in December 1832 they were commanded by God to build a temple. The members of the Church were poor though, and did not start work on the temple until six months later. The members of the church were also instructed on how to build the temple (see Doctrine and Covenants 95:15). The members sacrificed much to build the temple. Men worked to earn money for the temple, and women spent days sewing curtains and making carpets for the temple. One member, Daniel Tyler, wrote in his journal:
“How often have I seen those humble, faithful servants of the Lord, after toiling all day in the quarry, or on the building, when the walls were in [the] course of erection, weary and faint, yet with cheerful countenances, retiring to their homes with a few pounds of corn meal that had been donated. And, in the case of those who lacked a cow to give a little milk, the corn meal was sometimes, for days together, all that they and their families had to subsist upon. When a little flour, butter or meat came in, they were luxuries. Sometimes a little … molasses … would be donated, but oftener the hands had to seek a job elsewhere to get a gallon or so, and then return to the labor on the temple” (quoted in Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland: Eyewitness Accounts, p. 161).
The dedication of the Kirtland Temple was attended by great pentacostal manifestations from the Lord. People attending heard sounds like the rushing wind, many saw angels, and some spoke in tongues and prophesied. Those outside the temple saw flames on the roof that never consumed the building. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received visions from the Lord accepting the temple as His house, and then visitations from Elijah, Moses, and Elias restoring the priesthoods keys of their dispensations. Joseph testified,
The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.
The Kirtland Temple is owned today by The Community of Christ Church (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), a group that broke away from the LDS church when Brigham Young was named the president and prophet of the Church after Joseph Smith was martyred. The Community of Christ runs daily tours of the Kirtland Temple.