Chapter 10 Section C
The Manti Temple
Before construction work had been begun on the Logan Temple, preparations were in progress for the erection of another House of the Lord. Manti, the chief city of Sanpete County, situated about one hundred and four miles southerly from Salt Lake City in a direct line, and one hundred and thirty miles by rail, was selected as the place of this new sanctuary. In a circular issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, October 25, 1876, the boundaries of the Manti Temple district were specified, as the following shows:
“We feel led to say to the Latter-day Saints throughout these mountains, let us arise and build temples unto our God at such places as He shall designate, into which we and our children can enter and receive those blessings that He has in store for us. Let the Bishops of the settlements in Washington, Kane, Iron, Piute, Beaver, Millard, Sevier, Sanpete and Juab counties call the people of their wards together and ascertain from them how much each one is willing to do in labor and means, monthly, quarterly, and annually, toward the erection of a Temple at Manti, Sanpete County.”
Let it not be forgotten that at this time the people were putting forth strong efforts to complete the temple at St. George, and were taking preliminary steps toward the erection of that at Logan; and throughout this period the greatest temple of all was in course of construction at Salt Lake City. Yet, notwithstanding the weight of these duties, which many would call tasks if not burdens, the call of authority was heard directing another great undertaking of the kind.
As to the location of the precise site on which the Manti Temple should stand, a decision had been reached in a council of the authorities held at Ephraim, June 25, 1875, and the spot known as the Manti Stone Quarry had been reserved for the purpose. The spot so designated is the termination or point of a hill, which in turn appears as the spur of a low range of hills, marked by the outcrop of a well stratified and evenly bedded deposit of oolite. This is a granular rock, the separate particles of which are minute spheroids consisting of concentric layers of calcium carbonate; the stone appears under a lens not unlike fish-roe, hence the name oolite, literally meaning egg-stone. The selection of this spot on which to found the temple meant that the structure would literally be built upon the rock,-upon rock in place, upon an unbroken and undisturbed terrane. The temple was to consist of stone found at the spot, cut and shaped for beauty and service. The material is admirably adapted for the purpose; readily quarried, easily tooled, and withal attractive both in texture and color. The Manti oolite is of uniform grain and of a fine cream color. It has been used extensively for the erection of some of the more pretentious residences in Salt Lake City and, moreover, is the material of the Annex to the Salt Lake Temple, and of the window-facings and other trimmings of the great granite structure.
The site at Manti was dedicated April 25, 1877. In the presence of many of the general authorities of the Church and hundreds of other people, President Young, standing at the south-east corner of the temple lot, broke ground and dedicated the site by solemn service, he himself offering the prayer. He then gave brief instructions as to further procedure, emphasizing the fact that the temple was to be built by the labor of the people and as a free-will offering, and that work thereon was not to be made a means of profit. His address, so clearly illustrative of the peculiar regard with which the Latter-day Saints invest the great commission they hold to build temples unto the Lord, follows:
“We now call upon the people, through the several bishops who preside in this and the neighboring settlements, for men to come here with teams and wagons, plows and scrapers, picks and shovels, to prepare this ground for the mason work. Let this work be commenced forthwith; and as soon as possible we shall expect from 50 to 100 men every working day throughout the season to labor here.
“We intend building this temple for ourselves, and we are abundantly able to do it; therefore no man need come here to work expecting wages for his services. The neighboring settlements will send their men, and they can be changed whenever, and as often as, desirable; and they can get credit on labor tithing or on donation account for their services, and we expect them to work until this temple is completed without asking for wages. It is not in keeping with the character of Saints to make the building of temples a matter of merchandise.
“We want to rear this temple with clean hands and pure hearts, that we, with our children, may enter into it to receive our washings and anointings, the keys and ordinances of the holy Priesthood, and also to officiate in the same for our fathers and mothers and our forefathers who lived and died without the gospel, that they with us may be made partakers of the fruits of the tree of life, and live and rejoice in our Father’s kingdom. The gospel is free, its ordinances are free, and we are at liberty to rear this temple to the name of the Lord without charging anybody for our services.
“We call upon the sisters also to render what assistance they can in this matter. They can do a great deal by way of encouraging their husbands and sons, and also by making clothing of various kinds for them, and in otherwise providing for them while they are working here.
“Now, Bishops, if any person should inquire what wages is to be paid for work done on this temple, let the answer be, ‘Not one dime.’ And when the temple is completed, we will work in God’s holy house without inquiring what we are going to get, or who is going to pay us, but we will trust in the Lord for our reward, and he will not forget us. ‘Behold the fowls of the air (says the Savior) for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?’
“Let this work be commenced without delay. Building cannot be performed here in the winter, as in St. George. The rearing of this temple will have to be done in the milder portions of the season, when the air is free from frost.
“God bless you, brethren and sisters; we hope and pray that you will be inspired to perform this work with honor to yourselves and glory to God. This is the work of the latter days that we are engaged in, and this is the way that Zion is to be built up. We will continue our labors at home, and we will carry the gospel to all the nations of the earth, to the whole house of Israel, and the good work of redemption and salvation will continue until all is completed, and Jesus presents the kingdom to the Father. Amen.”
The beginning of excavation was marked by a further ceremony of prayer. We read that at 8 a.m., April 30, 1877, about one hundred people assembled upon the temple site where all kenlt while prayer was offered, after which the men and horses entered upon the work of preparing for the foundation of the great structure. The peculiar location required the construction of terraces or other form of graded ascent leading from the level of the valley to the temple hill. By December, 1878, four terrace walls were completed in the rough, and by April following the excavation for the foundation was ready. The terrace structure has been substituted by a uniform slope with a retaining wall below.
On April 14, 1879, the corner-stones were laid. President Young, under whose direction each of the temple sites in Utah had been selected and work thereon begun, had passed from earth; and a new First Presidency had not been inaugurated at this time. The presiding authority in the Church was the Council of the Twelve Apostles, of which Council John Taylor was president. On the day named a large body of people assembled near the temple site and, forming in procession, moved to the south-east corner of the grounds. There, after appropriate preliminaries of singing and prayer, an address was delivered by Elder Erastus Snow, one of the Twelve, Wm. H. Folsom, the architect-in-charge, laid the south-east corner-stone, and Elder Lorenzo Snow of the Council of the Twelve offered the prayer thereon. This being regarded as the chief corner-stone, it was designated as the record stone. In a cavity previously prepared, Church publications and other literature were deposited and sealed up before the stone was officially laid. Bishop Edward Hunter, the Presiding Bishop of the Church, laid the south-west stone, and his counselor, Leonard W. Hardy, pronounced the prayer. Elder F. W. Cox, president of the High Priests’ quorum of the Sanpete Stake, then laid the north-west stone, and Elder Canute Peterson, president of the stake, offered the prayer. Elder Horace S. Eldredge of the First Council of the Seventy, laid the north-east stone, and his associate in that Council, Elder John Van Cott, pronounced the dedicatory prayer. The services were witnessed by approximately four thousand people.
From the laying of the foundation stones to the completion of the building, the work progressed without serious hindrance. As it stands, the structure is one hundred and seventy-one feet in length, and ninety-five feet in extreme width. From the top of the first water-table to the square the height of the building is seventy-nine feet; the water-table is three feet above the ground. The walls are three and a half feet thick at the base with buttresses four feet in thickness, and both walls and buttresses narrow as they rise. At the square the walls are three feet and the buttresses two feet six inches. The main front of the building is toward the east, as is the case with all existing temples; nevertheless, the doorways most commonly used and the entrance from the Annex are at the west. The foundation on the east end abuts against the hill; and this end of the structure is seen in its entirety by those only who climb the hillside to a commanding position. A tower at the east rises to the height of one hundred and seventy-nine feet; the tower at the west end is ten feet lower. Each of these towers is thirty feet square at the base. The grade or ground-level surrounding the Temple is a little over sixty feet higher than that of the street at the foot of the hill on which the building stands. The drive-way at the east end is at the elevation of the short flights of steps which rise to the doorways on the level of the main assembly room on the top floor.
Adjacent to the main structure and connecting therewith is the Annex building, one hundred feet in length, forty feet in width, and of but one story. In this building is installed the apparatus for heating, and herein also are provided reception rooms, offices, and an assembly room for preliminary services. The Temple is furnished with its own water supply from perennial springs situated in the hills at a distance of a little over a mile.
In the interior the rooms are practically counterparts of those already described in connection with other Temples. The main assembly room on the upper floor has a seating capacity for over fifteen hundred persons. The estimated cost of the building as it stood ready for dedication was one million dollars.
Dedicatory services were set for May 21, 1888. From accounts published at the time it is plain that the interest in the great event was intense. Thus we read:
“From an early hour on the 21st of May people began to assemble on the hill east of the Temple, at which admission was to be gained, and by 9:30 the grounds were black with people. The day was lovely, the threatened rain of the night preceding having passed away. As for two days before, all the roads leading to Manti were clouded with incoming teams, each loaded with living freight bound for the dedication.”
President John Taylor who, as the presiding officer of the Council of the Twelve Apostles had directed the laying of the corner-stones, and who afterward became the President of the Church, had died in July, 1887. Again The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was without an organized First Presidency of three, and at the time of the dedication of the Manti Temple, the Council of the Twelve was the presiding quorum of the Church. Wilford Woodruff was at this time the president of the Council of the Twelve.
The services began at 11 a. m., by which time the great room was filled to its utmost capacity. The principal feature, of course, was the dedicatory prayer, which was offered by Elder Lorenzo Snow of the Council of the Twelve. Addresses were delivered by the Presiding Patriarch of the Church, by several of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, and by other prominent brethren in the Priesthood. On account of the large numbers desiring to attend, services were repeated on the two days following, May 22 and 23. On each of these occasions the dedicatory prayer was read, hymns and anthems were rendered and addresses given by speakers chosen by the presiding authorities. On the first day the actual services occupied five hours, and over seventeen hundred people attended. Many of the Saints testified to remarkable manifestations of Divine power which they witnessed on this grand and solemn occasion.
“On the first day, just as Professor Smyth was concluding the voluntary-a selection from Mendelssohn-a number of the Saints in the body of the hall and some of the brethren in the west stand heard most heavenly voices singing. It sounded to them as angelic, and appeared to be behind and above them, and many turned their heads in that direction wondering if there was not another choir in some other part of the building. There was no other choir, however.
“Some of the Saints saw the spirit of Presidents Young and Taylor, J. M. Grant, and others in the Temple, and the heads of some of the speakers were surrounded by a halo of heavenly light during the services. The saints enjoyed a spiritual feast extending through the three days, and many shed tears of joy while listening to the testimonies and admonitions of the servants of God. There can be no question but that God has accepted the Manti Temple at the hands of His Saints and will bless all who have in any degree assisted to build it, or who, not having the means to assist, have said in their hearts, ‘I would have helped if I could.”’
Work on the grounds has been carried on of late years, to the greater beautification of the site. A magnificent stairway has been constructed from the grade of the street to the level of the Temple threshold. This stairway is twenty feet in width with retaining walls on either side, connecting with large square pillars at each landing. The steps have a tread of twelve inches and a rise of six, and of these there are one hundred and twenty-five. There are nine landings between top and bottom, each six feet wide. The top of the stairway connects directly with the roadway surrounding the Temple. The stairway, its walls and pillars, are all constructed of cement; and cement walks encircle the buildings. Scattered over the lawn which occupies the slope on the west are attractive trees and shrubs; each of these is planted in a hole excavated for the purpose in the solid rock. The soil for shrubs, grass, and flowers is foreign to the place.
On May 28, 1888, the Manti Temple was opened for ordinance work and from that time to the present this work has been in progress without interruption except that incident to the regular recess periods each year.