Friday, August 15, 2014

Idaho Falls Temple: Exterior & Interior

Note: This is one of a series of posts on the interior and preservation of historic temples. Click here for posts of the floor plan and interiors of the Logan Temple, St. George Temple, Salt Lake Temple, and Manti Temple.


I was able to recently visit the temple in Idaho Falls, and while it may not be "pioneer" architecture, it is significant in that it was the last temple truly built for a live endowment. (The Los Angeles Temple also had all four rooms, but from its dedication used a tape recording to facilitate the presentation of the endowment.) Even though the temple now uses film to present the endowment, its unique architecture remains, and I wanted to give a brief walkthrough of the temple. The pictures of the interior come from The Idaho Falls Temple: The First LDS Temple in Idaho, by Delbert V. Groberg; I've also added pictures from the Mormon Newsroom's article on the recent renovation and open house.

First, I liked the arrangement of the temple's lobby and chapel (called 'assembly room,' but really the chapel) where patrons gather before a session begins. Patrons enter the lobby from the recommend desk. On either side are corridors leading to the locker rooms; at the front are the doors leading to the chapel. Above these doors are painted the words, "The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him" (Habakkuk 2:20).

Idaho Falls Temple Lobby
The chapel itself has doors on all four walls--patrons enter from the sides and temple workers came in from the back. When it was time to begin, they opened the double doors at the front, revealing a large mural (painted directly on the wall of the temple hall at the base of the stairs) of Jesus teaching His disciples. Patrons then pass the mural on their way up the grand staircase to begin a session.

Idaho Falls Mural and Staircase
The first room, the creation room, provids a "birds-eye view" of the world, with patrons seemingly among the clouds. This mural was done by Harris T. Weberg.

Idaho Falls Creation Room

Idaho Falls Creation Room

It gives us the perspective of the Creator, which is unique to any creation room I've been in. I also liked how stars twinkled down from the ceiling at the appropriate part of the presentation.

Idaho Falls Creation Room
Patrons then pass through into the garden room.

Garden Room, looking toward the back of the room
This mural, along with the mural in the world room, was painted by Joseph A.F. Everett.

Idaho Falls Garden Room Mural
Idaho Falls Garden Room

The most striking thing about the garden room are the two trees at the front (representing the two main trees in the Garden of Eden), which are not only painted, but also carved into the wall. This gives them a three-dimensional effect that made them stand out. They are technically bas-reliefs, and surprisingly, they were done by Torleif Knaphus, a Mormon artist with many well-known works.

Idaho Falls Garden Room
Idaho Falls Garden Room Tree Detail
The next room is the world room.

Idaho Falls World Room Mural
Idaho Falls World Room - Back (South Wall)

Idaho Falls World Room Mural
Idaho Falls World Room - Side (East Wall)

Idaho Falls World Room Mural
Idaho Falls World Room - Side (West Wall)

The world room murals teach a lot of different aspects that gave me additional insight into the teachings of the endowment. This is the whole purpose of murals, so I really enjoyed it.

Idaho Falls World Room

This mural includes a pioneer wagon train crossing the landscape into the Salt Lake Valley, as well a depiction of the miracle of the seagulls. A pioneer couple tills the ground, clearly reminiscent and symbolic of Adam and Eve--the first to work on the earth. These depictions speak to temple patrons of the difficulty of this world, but also the joys and miracles we experience while living here. Heber J. Grant, upon touring this room, responded by "terming the mural as an innovation and expressing enthusiastic approval...satisfaction was given by J. Reuben Clark and other high church officials."

When I went through the temple (around 2012), the curtains were all shut in the creation, garden, and world rooms. I thought this was a real shame, since the windows are stained glass (which means the curtains don't need to be closed for privacy). I understand the use of film might require darkness, but other temples (such as Oquirrh Mountain) have curtains that open and close automatically, as needed. Fortunately, all of the new pictures of the temple show the curtains open, which gives me hope that these windows will be visible when the film isn't being used in the endowment.

The terrestrial room is next:

Idaho Falls Terrestrial Room
This picture really doesn't do this room justice. The back wall is entirely stained glass, so colored, sparking light fills the room. It's really quite beautiful.

Idaho Falls Temple Stained Glass

Patrons pass through the veil of the temple into the celestial room, which also has murals. These were done by Lee Greene Richards. On the east wall (the view patrons see as they enter), there are paintings representing the eternal rest of those who have lived the gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole room is painted as a landscape, suggesting that the celestial kingdom isn't a building or a place--it's a whole world for the Saints of God to enjoy. According to LDS doctrine, families are united for eternity.


Idaho Falls Celestial Room Mural
Idaho Falls Celestial Room - East Wall

A couple of sealing rooms are also located off the south side of the celestial room.

Idaho Falls Celestial Room Mural
Idaho Falls Celestial Room - Southeast Corner; one of the two sealing rooms is visible

On the west wall is a depiction of the vision of John the Beloved, seeing the New Jerusalem descend from the sky.

Idaho Falls Celestial Room Mural
Idaho Falls Celestial Room - West Wall (on the left are two sealing rooms)


In this interpretation, the city in the vision is Temple Square--the outlines of the Salt Lake Temple and Assembly Hall are clearly visible.


The roof of the celestial room opens up into the tower. You will notice that the more recent pictures appear much more bright than the old ones; I believe the renovation has opened up more windows along the sides of the room.


The ordinance rooms are not the only ones to have murals; the baptistry also has murals. These were also done by Lee Greene Richards. The main mural (visible here) is The Baptism of Jesus; on the left is The Baptism of Oliver and Joseph, and on the right is The Baptizing of a Convert. Richards also painted quotes from D&C 20:37 and D&C 128:15 over the entrance to the baptistry.


The oxen are quite unique in comparison to other temples--they were done in a very modern style.


This temple is lovely. It has a variety of styles (true to the time period in which it was built), and it has been lovingly restored. I highly recommend attending this temple if you get the chance.

9 comments:

  1. Yes the Idaho Falls Celestial Room mural has deep as spiritual meaning for many individuals, including myself. According to the former IF Temple President, Elder Devere Harris, many people have inquired about it, stating that the images depicted had come to them in a dream or vision. The artist, Lee Greene Richards, also saw these images in a dream and made a sketch three months before the LDS church hired him to paint the mural. I was born in 1958 and had a dream, which this artist skilfully painted, when I was eight years old. I did not notice the cluster of aspens with a stone at it's base or the city in clouds until about 1984-85. I then found President Harris in his office and shared my experience. He told me that others have had a similar experiences to the mural.

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  2. ...the image in the IF Temple Celestial Room mural o'FD the elderly couple sitting next to the younger standing couple, remind me of my mother's parents. The young woman depicted sitting on the ground to their right reminds me of my mother. This and my previous comment make this mural very personal and special to me.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, Russell. Many of these historic buildings have touches that can give great personal meaning to people who attend them. I will have to see if I can find more information about Lee Greene Richards and his experiences with these murals. Thanks!

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  3. i've heard that part of the new remodel includes mechanical drapes that can open in the ordinance rooms when the video is not being played

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    1. Anon, that would really be great! That's something I've been hoping for with this newest remodel. We'll have to see how it turns out!

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  4. We toured the temple on April 18, 2017, and one of the murals in the baptistry is signed "LeGrand Richards." We were all wondering whether the apostle LeGrand Richards painted that mural. Does anyone know?

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    1. Hi Deb! The Baptistry murals were done by Lee Greene Richards, so the names are close. His murals were titled "The Baptism of Oliver and Joseph" (on the Southwest wall), The Baptism of Jesus (west wall), and "The Baptizing of a Convert" (on the northwest wall). I've added this information to the main post. :)

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  5. When we took the tour the draperies were open and will be open unil the movies begin. Sorry you didn't get to see it that way, the natural light through the art glass onto the murals is breathtaking.

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    1. That's exciting to know for sure, Anon! Thanks for sharing!

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