Chapter 8 Section A
The Great Temple At Salt Lake City-Interior
The Temple Annex: While there are four doorways leading into the Temple directly from the outside, the usual entrance is through the detached building known as the Annex. Under ordinary conditions only Church authorities who assemble in council meetings enter by the outer doors, though on the rare occasions of special convocations of the Priesthood many pass those portals.
The Annex is entered on the ground-level through a spacious vestibule, eighteen by twenty-one feet, with wave-glass on three of its sides. The floor is of mosaic tiling, bordered with marble blocks. This ante-room is supplied with steam heat and serves the incidental purposes of a cloak room. At the Annex door stand two large columns of marble mosaic, and in contact with the adjoining walls are two other columns, of the same material and of corresponding design. Within the Annex on this floor there are well-equipped office rooms, with desk facilities for the extensive routine work of registration and record.
The main apartment, however, is the Annex Assembly Room. This occupies the central part of the building, and has seating capacity for three hundred persons. The room consists of a central area thirty-six feet square, with a semi-circular alcove of nine feet radius at both north and south sides. The north alcove is occupied by a platform or stand, raised ten inches above the floor, and is furnished with a small lectern. The central body of the room has an imposing column of Corinthian design in each of its four corners; these columns rest upon massive pedestals and extend to the ceiling. Small columns of similar design support the arches which divide the alcoves from the main auditorium. Over the arches at the north end appear portraits of the living First Presidency; and around the walls are portraits of the present Council of the Twelve Apostles, arranged in the order of seniority of ordination. Within the alcoves hang the portraits of the dead,-at the north those of past members of the First Presidency, and in the south recess, those of Apostles now deceased. On the west wall is a full-size reproduction of Munkacsy’s famous canvas, “Christ before Pilate”; this copy is the work of Dan Weggeland, one of Utah’s veteran artists. The ceiling is formed by the intersection of four arches, producing a quadruple groin structure. Each of the four lunettes is occupied by triple series of arched windows consisting of colored glass in simple design.
On the west side of the building is a small refectory where a noon-day lunch is served to recorders and other officials on duty for the day. A stairway leads to the basement, which is occupied by storage rooms and lavatories.
The Annex Passage: The foot of the stairway marks the beginning of a semi-subterranean passage, which runs south ninety feet to the Temple wall. This passage receives air and natural light through side windows in three large ventilator cupolas which rise six feet above the ground. Artificial illumination is supplied by three electroliers, each holding twelve globes. Near the south end is the entrance to a side corridor leading to machine rooms in which is installed a very efficient apparatus for vacuum cleaning; this is connected with every room in the Temple. The passage terminates at the foot of a short flight of granite steps-at the centre of the north wall of the main structure. The top of these steps marks the threshold of the Temple. Heavy doors divide the Annex from the Temple.
The Lower Corridor: The doorway from the annex passage opens directly into the lower corridor of the Temple. This extends entirely across the building, from north to south, and is a little over twelve feet in width. The floor is richly carpeted, the walls are finely finished, and the corridor as a whole presents an imposing contrast with the exceedingly plain passage without. The walls are embellished with large paintings, the chief of which is a canvas fifteen by thirteen feet, showing Joseph Smith preaching to the Indian tribes of the east. At the north end is a drinking fountain of Utah onyx-one of many of this unique design distributed throughout the building.
The Baptistry: West from the lower corridor, and occupying the central third of the entire floor on that side, is the baptismal room, in which stands the great font. This apartment is thirty-two by forty-five feet, and is floored with white marble. A ten-inch wainscot of the same material extends along each wall, with grained wood-work above. The walls are virtually a succession of double door, of which the lower half is of paneled wood, and the upper of pebbled glass. Each doorway is arched, and carries a large semi-circular transom with a central aperture occupied by an open grill of metal. Of these doors there are six pairs on both north and south sides, and two pairs on both east and west. There are twenty-six fluted pilasters around the walls, each extending from floor to ceiling. The only natural light the room receives is borrowed from windows without; but abundant artificial light is supplied by a large central electrolier and numerous side lamps.
The baptismal font is, of course, the most prominent feature of the room. To provide for the font, a depression or well has been excavated to a depth of three feet below the floor level. This well, tiled with marble, is circular, twenty-one feet in diameter, and is surrounded by an ornamental iron railing two feet high. In this depression stand twelve, life-sized oxen, of cast iron, with bronzed bodies and silvered horns. The oxen face outward in groups of three and support the massive font. The font is of cast iron enameled in white, elliptical in form, of ten and six feet in its longer and shorter axes respectively, and four feet deep; its capacity is over four hundred gallons. The rim is reached by a flight of seven steps at either end, with balustrade and top-rail of iron; five inside steps at either end provide for descent into the font. Facilities for quickly replenishing and renewing hot and cold water in the font are adequate and efficient, and due attention has been given to ventilation and sanitary requirements throughout.
The landing at the top of the steps on the west end of the font expands into two small platforms, one at either side; these are enclosed by extensions of the balustrades. On the south side is a small table for the use of the recorder, and on the north are seats for the witnesses whose presence is essential at every baptism performed in behalf of the dead
The placing of the baptistry on the lower or basement floor was not a matter of mere convenience. Most of the baptisms performed within the Temple are in behalf of the dead, and the symbolism of the font location is set forth by authority: �
“The baptismal font was instituted as a simile of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble, to show forth the living and the dead.”
On the north side of the baptistry is a large room divided into a number of apartments used as dressing rooms and in which are performed certain ordinances of anointing, for men. A similar arrangement for women exists on the south side. In these ceremonies only women administer to women, and men to men.
The Lower Lecture Room: On the east of the lower corridor are two assembly rooms. The first of these is about forty by forty-five feet, and is finished and furnished in great plainness. Its walls are without ornament; and, except for the six electroliers, the only approach to decorative embellishment is a drinking fountain of variegated marble and onyx on the south side. The room is comfortably carpeted but in marked simplicity,-without a suggestion of bright color. The seats are folding lecture chairs, of plain design, and provision is made for two hundred and fifty persons. This room is used for preliminary instruction purposes, and may be called for convenience the Lower Lecture Room.
The Garden Room: In striking contrast with the room last described is the apartment on the south, entered from the lecture room by an arched doorway hung with portieres. While of about the same size as the room described, and seated to accommodate the same number of persons, in all its appointments it is of more elaborate design. Ceiling and walls are embellished with oil paintings-the former to represent clouds and sky, with sun and moon and stars; the latter showing landscape scenes of rare beauty. There are sylvan grottoes and mossy dells, lakelets and brooks, waterfalls and rivulets, trees, vines and flowers, insects, birds and beasts, in short, the earth beautiful,-as it was before the Fall. It may be called the Garden of Eden Room, for in every part and appurtenance it speaks of sweet content and blessed repose. There is no suggestion of disturbance, enmity or hostility; the beasts are at peace and the birds live in amity. In the centre of the south wall, is a platform and an altar of prayer, reached by three steps. The altar is upholstered in velvet, and on it rests the Holy Bible. On the sides of the altar are large doorways opening directly into a conservatory of living plants.
The Grand Stairway starts near the south end of the lower corridor already described. It is provided with a stately newel post and a massive balustrade, both of solid cherry. This stairway comprises thirty-five steps with three landings, and at its top is the upper corridor, running forty feet north and south. A large canvas depicting the resurrected Christ instructing the Nephites on the western continent occupies twenty feet of wall space on the east of this corridor; and smaller paintings adorn the other walls.
The World Room: Leading off to the west from the first landing below the top of the grand stairway is a side corridor nine feet wide and fifteen feet long. This contains an art window in rich colors, elliptical in form, about ten feet in height, depicting the expulsion from Eden. It is of special significance in the journey from the Garden Room below to the symbolical apartment into which this side passage leads. At either end the corridor terminates in an arch way; between these the ceiling is of fine panel work. The room is of equal size with those below, forty-five by forty feet. It is carpeted in rich brown, and is seated in the usual way. At the west end is an upholstered prayer altar, on which are placed in readiness for use the Holy Scriptures. Near the altar is a stairway leading to a small waiting room adjoining the elevator landing.
The walls are entirely covered with scenic paintings and the ceiling is pictured to represent sky and cloud. The earth scenes are in strong contrast with those in the Garden Room below. Here the rocks are rent and riven; the earth-story is that of mountain uplift and seismic disruption. Beasts are contending in deadly strife, or engaged in murderous attack, or already rending their prey. The more timorous creatures are fleeing from their ravenous foes or cowering in half-concealed retreats. There are lions in combat, a tiger gloating over a fallen deer, wolves and foxes in hungry search. Birds of prey are slaying or being slain. On the summit of a rugged cliff is an eagle’s eyrie, the mother and her brood watching the approach of the male bird holding a lambkin in his claws. All the forest folk and the wild things of the mountain are living under the ever-present menace of death, and it is by death they live. The trees are gnarled, misshapen, and blasted; shrubs maintain a precarious root-hold in rocky clefts; thorns, thistles, cacti, and noxious weeds abound; and in one quarter a destructive storm is raging.
The scenes are typical of the world’s condition under the curse of God. Nevertheless there is a certain weird attractiveness in the scenes and in their suggestiveness. The story is that of struggle and strife; of victory and triumph or of defeat and death. From Eden man has been driven out to meet contention, to struggle with difficulties, to live by strife and sweat. This chamber may well be known as the room of the fallen world, or more briefly, the World Room.
The Terrestrial Room: From the north-west corner of the room last described is a large door-way leading into another apartment, lofty, spacious, and beautiful. Its general effect is that of combined richness and simplicity. Following the elaborate decoration of the World Room, this is restful in its soft coloring and air of comfort. The carpet is of lavender velvet woven with simple figures. The walls are of pale blue, the ceiling and woodwork of white with trimmings in gold. At the west end is a large mirror framed in white and gold. The chairs are upholstered to harmonize with the floor-covering. From the paneled ceiling hang three electroliers, massive, yet simple, holding opaline globes. Two sets of conical shades enclosing incandescent bulbs occupy circular recesses in the ceiling, and torch-shaped brackets supporting additional lamps are affixed to the wall pilasters. A few framed canvases hang from the walls, the largest of which is the original painting by Girard-Joseph interpreting the dreams of the butler and baker. Other pictures are delineations of incidents in the life of Christ and scenes in Bible lands.
An upholstered altar stands near the east end of the room, with copies of sacred writ in place. In this room, lectures are given pertaining to the endowments and emphasizing the practical duties of a religious life. It is therefore commonly known as the upper lecture room, but in view of its relation to the room that follows, we may for convenience designate it the Terrestrial Room. At the east end is a raised floor reached by three steps, across which springs an arch of thirty feet span. The arch is supported by five columns between which hangs a silken portiere in four sections. This is the Veil of the Temple.
The Celestial Room: From the room last described to the one now under consideration the passage leads through the Veil. This is a large and lofty apartment about sixty by forty-five feet in area and thirty-four feet in height, occupying the northeast section of the building on this floor. In finish and furnishings it is the grandest of all the large rooms within the walls. If the last room described could be considered typical of the terrestrial state, this is suggestive of conditions yet more exalted; and it may appropriately be called the Celestial Room. The west end is occupied wholly by the Veil. The east wall is in part taken up by two triple mirrors, thirteen feet high; the central section of each is three feet eight inches wide, and the side sections each three feet in width. Along the walls are twenty-two columns in pairs, with Corinthian caps; these support entablatures from which spring ten arches, four on either side and one at each end. Within the recesses formed by these arches and suspended from the wall-columns, are paintings and busts of past and living leaders of the Church, and canvases depicting scenes in Bible lands and incidents of interest in Church history. Prominent among these are paintings by Lambourne, showing the Hill Cumorah and Adam-ondi-Ahman. Choice canvases illustrative of scenes in the life of Christ and small statuary are disposed with excellent effect about the room. The ceiling is a combination of vault and panel construction elaborately finished. Massive cornices and beams separating the ceiling panels are richly embellished with clusters of fruit and flowers. The color scheme of the walls is soft brown relieved by the light blue of the fluted columns and by abundant trimmings in gold. Eight electroliers with shades of richly finished glass depend from the ceiling, and each of the twenty-two columns holds a bracket of lights in corresponding design. A newel-post at the east bears a flower-cluster of colored globes with an artistic support in bronze. The floor is covered by a heavy carpet and the movable furniture is all of rich yet appropriate design. Palms and other living plants are held in shapely jardinieres of finest ware. At the east is a short flight of stairs leading into an office reserved for the president of the Temple.