Sunday, October 13, 2019

Coalville Tabernacle: Stained Glass Detail & Preservation

I have already done posts on the former Coalville Tabernacle and the chapel that replaced it and houses its paintings and stained glass. After my first visit I learned that the window at the front of the chapel has backlighting, and so I made another visit to properly photograph it.

This window is lovely, with cool green colors that contrast with the other windows.

A dove with an olive leaf is at the top of the window.

While there, I checked on the other windows and talked with some local members. The Church is taking good care of these historic artifacts--the paintings of the prophets were removed a couple of years ago for some cleaning and preservation efforts and then replaced. Now, the Church is working on the stained glass windows, taking them down one at a time to do repair and preservation efforts before replacing them. The south window was gone when I visited.

Finally, last time I visited, there were curtains on the sides of the stained glass windows; now, they have a bar at the top and a shade that comes down. The only issue is the bar blocks the top of the windows from being viewed properly, but it's a minor quibble. These stained glass windows are among the oldest in the Church, and I'm very happy to see that the Church is taking good care of them and keeping them in this chapel for local saints to enjoy.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Salt Lake 34th Ward

Built in 1921, this chapel on the west side of Salt Lake City has an impressive entrance. It was later sold and now houses another congregation.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Binghampton Ward (Tucson, AZ) Exterior Details

I was in Tucson recently and finally got a chance to visit this historic building. It is beautiful and fits in perfectly with the architecture of the city. A previous post examining this building can be found here.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A History of LDS Temple Architecture: Part 7 - The Return of Progression

Note: This is Part 7 and the final post in a series on the history of the development of LDS temple architecture. This series is based on my personal research and is a looser, less detailed, and less formal version of a paper that was presented at the 2015 BYU Religious Education Student Symposium. For a complete list of posts in this series, click here.

The last temple to have full murals in its ordinance rooms was the Los Angeles Temple, dedicated in 1956. The New Zealand Temple copied the Los Angeles Temple in having a simple landscape scene decorate the walls of its celestial room:

Celestial Room in the New Zealand Temple (rendering)

After that temple, no murals were added to ordinance rooms (although the Oakland Temple did temporarily use projections to mimic murals during the film presentation of the endowment). This means that between 1958 and 2001, no ordinance rooms had murals added to them.

In 1998, the smaller temples, pioneered by Gordon B. Hinckley, began to be dedicated. Initially, these temples were built with one stationary endowment room, meaning that a session could only begin every 2 hours at most. This proved inadequate to handle patrons, and so the basic plan was switched to enable a new form of progression--two-stage progression. The first room combined the creation, garden, and world rooms, all of which normally had some type of mural in the four-stage progression temples. The second room served as the terrestrial room. This format ended up being similar to the renovated temples that used a veil room.

For the first few years, these temples still didn't have any murals, although the Winter Quarters temple (dedicated in 2001) did have large paintings of the Missouri River and Chimney Rock placed in its first room.

Telestial Room in the Winter Quarters Temple

The Columbia River Washington Temple, dedicated in November 2001 was the first to reintroduce murals, including them in its first ordinance room. There is no background as to why murals were reintroduced at this time, but it quickly was implemented in all new small temples built after that time.

Columbia River Washington Temple

Since that time, this format of endowment, including the one room with murals, has become the preferred method of the endowment.

There were still a few large temples were still built without murals (probably that had already been in the planning stages before murals came about). One exception was the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, which had murals placed in all of its ordinance rooms, the first temple to have all four rooms and murals since the Los Angeles Temple. This was an intentional decision to reflect on the temple's historic character.

Nauvoo Illinois World Room

That doesn't mean that every temple built currently has progression. Some exceptions include Gilbert, Arizona; Payson, Utah; and Kinshasa, D.R.C., all of which have stationary rooms. However, two-stage progression has become the standard, and it appears that will continue.

Meanwhile, the Church has had renovations in its older temples to restore the progression. The Los Angeles Temple, which began to use a stationary presentation in 1981, restored progression in 2003. Laie's rededication in 2010 brought back progression as well. Upcoming renovations in Mesa and St. George also appear (as far as I can tell) encouraging in restoring progression in the endowment. If correct, this would mean that Logan, Utah is the only temple so far that originally had progression and doesn't have plans to restore it. Of course, we will have to wait for more information on that temple's renovation to know what will happen there.

World Room in Mesa Arizona Temple (rendering)


From the very beginning, the use of murals and progression was used in the endowment to envelop patrons in the story of the endowment and teach principles of progress, redemption, and exaltation. While film ended up replacing these tools, it's not a perfect substitution, and I'm glad to see that the Church eventually used a compromise--a mix of different tools to teach the same symbols. What's interesting is that these adjustments have largely been preserved in our temples--depending on which temple you visit, you'll get a different experience. Temples have become a living record of our use of the endowment.

St. George Temple (post 2019 renovation rendering)

As the Church continues to build temples--over 200 have now been announced--the architecture may be adjusted further to meet the needs of a worldwide Church. But the temples already established, from St. George to the present, continue to speak volumes about the role architecture plays in teaching gospel principles.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

La Verkin Ward

La Verkin (some say this is a Native American term for "Beautiful Valley," others say it is likely a corrupted form of La Virgen for the nearby Virgin River) is a small community located off of I-15 northwest of St. George. Tucked away against the cliffs bordering the east side of town is a fascinating chapel. The most distinctive part of the building was started in 1925. It originally had the chapel and cultural hall upstairs in the one-room building, with a relief society room and classrooms in the basement.

Source: Church History Library

The building wasn't paid off and dedicated until 1955, over 30 years later. In 1962, a new chapel was built on the building's north side, and the original structure served as the cultural hall. There were new additions in the 1970s as well.

Source: La Verkin City

Unfortunately, in the 1980s, the Church found that the building was slumping, probably due to flood irrigation water. After some discussion, the building was sold to the city in 1993. There are some structural concerns with the building, but it still houses the police department and a few other city offices.

The structure has a modern style which is impressive considering the time in which it was built.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Those Who Have Gone Before: Meadow Ward

This series honors LDS Architecture that is no longer standing. To see all the posts in this series, click here.

In my studies on LDS architecture, I come across countless buildings that are no longer standing that are fairly obscure. I always wish I could find out more about those buildings. The chapel that used to stand in Meadow, Utah, is one of them.

Meadow is a small town in the Pahvant Valley, just south of Fillmore. Named for the creek which runs through town, it is now more well-known for the hot springs and lava tubes found in the fields to its west.

 Currently, the chapel is a typical 1980s standard plan.

Image Source: Google Maps
 However, the chapel that was there before was really quite nice. The plaque that was on the building indicates that it was built in 1884. I'm not sure if that's accurate or not, but it was really a nice chapel.

The inside was nice (if not well photographed), but the real centerpiece was the pulpit.

 Delicate wood carvings depict a handshake surrounded by roses and branches spelling out "Welcome" beneath.

The handshake is a common Christian symbol; it can also be found on the Salt Lake Temple and in a stained glass window in Coalville.However, this carving is very similar to the Meadow welcome sign, probably too close to be a coincidence. It's a lovely little local touch on what was already a beautiful church.

Image Source: Wikipedia
I've really wanted to run by the new Church building in Meadow, just to see if the pulpit (or anything else) was preserved. The exterior is not promising. If anyone has any information on this building, I'd love to know more.