Monday, September 29, 2014

Manti Temple: 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, Mesa Temple, and Idaho Falls Temple.

I recently read The Manti Temple: 1888-1988, and thought I would take the opportunity to provide some higher-quality pictures of the temple interior. I've also provided pictures I've found elsewhere. Some of them were across two pages, but I did my best to reduce the line down the middle.

First, here is the basic floor plan of the temple, as found in Thomas Carter's Building Zion. (I highly recommend that book, by the way--he goes into not only temples, but other Mormon architecture types).

First, you come in through the annex.

The annex hallway was constructed when the temple was remodeled in the 1980s. Still, I think it was done perfectly. It matches the actual temple's architectural qualities very well--in its doors, door knobs and hinges, moldings, and other characteristics.

Patrons will see this painting hanging in the temple's lobby. It was painted by C.C.A. Christensen (the same artist who painted the creation room mural) in 1889.  It turns out that when they found this painting, green had been crudely painted over the temple hill to make it look like the grassy knoll what the temple actually sits on. When preservationists removed the green, they were able to uncover the grant stairway leading to the temple, which was in the original plans.

At the end of the annex hallway is the entrance into the temple proper. Patrons attending a session immediately turn left to enter the creation room.

The creation room is the oldest surviving mural present in an LDS temple--the St. George temple murals came in the 1930s, the Logan Temple was gutted, and the Garden and World room murals in Manti had to be redone in the 1940s. This mural was painted by C.C.A. Christensen.

Here, I've taken some pictures from the book, C.C.A. Christensen: Mormon Immigrant Artist. It provides some detailed pictures of this beautiful mural.

At the front of the room, on the left side, begins the creation story--the formation of the earth.

As you progress clock-wise around the room, each day of the creation is told in the mural. Here is the second day; the separation of the seas from the waters. The third day (the creation of heavenly bodies) is visible in the wide shot of the room above, just left of the door. The portion of the third day has been heavily painted over by later artists in attempts to restore the original.

On the right side of the door is the fourth day; the creation of plants. (The line down this photo is in the original book; I believe this is where the walls come together in a corner.) Christensen used hollyhocks (common in Utah and his home country, Denmark) in the foreground; in the back are Lombarly poplars (very common in Utah).

Finally, the back of the room and the left (east) side shows the creation of animals. This begins with some depictions of jurassic-era creatures and ferns. I love that Christensen included these drawings.

Finishing up the west wall is the creation of the fowls, non-domestic animals, domestic animals, and water creatures.

From the creation room, patrons proceed up a small staircase to the garden room. Here, it is seen from the front--so the door you see in this photo is the one patrons come through.

Here's a view of the front of the room:

As mentioned previously, the garden room mural had to be redone in the 1940s. This side of the temple is built into the hill, and apparently the mural suffered some severe water damage. All we have left is a sketch Christensen left of what appears to be the original garden room mural for the Manti Temple:

From the garden room, patrons head up that staircase on the right into the world room. This room originally had no murals; murals were added in 1947 by Minerva Teichert. (There are some conflicting sources on this information: some sources say there was no mural originally; others say she painted over the original mural. If I can confirm it one way or the other, I'll update this post.)

This tremendous mural shows the history of the world. The back wall shows the tower of Babel under construction. The north wall (the one visible on the right half of this photo) generally follows the history of the gentiles; one can see crusaders, monarchs, explorers, and the poor and destitute (the silhouettes near the bottom). Along the south wall (not pictured) is the history of Israel, with paintings of Abraham, Joseph (and his coat of many colors), Moses, and Pilgrims. Both of these histories meet at the east wall (left half of the photo), on the American Continent, where a Native American figure stands at the center. Above him and the tops of the trees is a picturesque mountain valley, complete with a small city and a temple. The city represents Zion, not any place in particular, but it looks a lot like Manti (especially the temple).

This mural is fascinating and much more could be said about it. I recommend BYU Studies' article on the paintings. It goes into detail not only on each section of the mural (and has detailed pictures of each side!), but also goes into the history of it.

From this room, patrons enter the doorway on the right of the Native American and enter the terrestrial room.

The terrestrial room of this temple is one of my favorites. I've also noticed that the benches subtly become more ornate as one progresses through the endowment--they're rather plain and ordinary in the creation room; by the time you get here, they have small flowers and designs carved into them. I do believe the benches are original.

Last is the Celestial Room.

This sealing room is connected to the south side of the Celestial Room. It is definitely the most ornate sealing room in the Church (that I know of, anyway). I've always thought it was interesting that it has a window on its south side (to the left of this picture) that goes into the world room.

And, of course, the magnificent spiral staircase. I've included the description included in the book, which is similar to the one that temple workers read to you upon showing you the stairs:

"There are only three stairways in the United States constructed with no central support and of a large size. Two are in the Manti Temple, and the other is located in the Octagon, headquarters for the American Institute of Architects, in Washington D.C.

"Each staircase in the Temple contains 151 steps each supporting the other and wide enough for four men to walk abreast. Each staircase also contains 204 intricately fashioned spindles. The black walnut railings, where the joints cannot be felt, are the work of superb 19th-century craftsmen. The 6 June 1985 Manti Messenger quotes Mr. Emil Fetzer, Church Architect, as saying, "It would be difficult to match the workmanship today, even with the improved tools available." The black walnut used in the railings were imported from the East. 

"The staircase on the north circles clockwise--the one on the south circles counterclockwise. Each staircase makes six complete circles and rises vertically 76 feet, 2 3/4 inches." (The Manti Temple Centennial, 1888-1988; 104.)

The staircases are still used regularly. The north staircase provides access to the world room, which is used by temple workers participating in the endowment ceremony. There are sealing rooms in the east tower that are also only accessible via the spiral staircases. They are used for living sealings--but from what the temple workers have told me, they are very small and can't hold very many guests. I believe this picture is one of them.

Finally, the staircases provide access to the priesthood assembly room on the top floor of the temple. That room is used at least once annually for a temple worker devotional, and they exit using the stairs.

Like other assembly halls, there are two sets of pulpits: one on the east and west end.

All-in-all, I love visiting the Manti Temple, and consider it well worth the drive. If you are visiting this temple, I would recommend doing a session, admiring the sealing room off of the celestial room, and asking to see the spiral staircases. It is a wonderful place.


  1. The mural in the "world" room, as you describe here, was most fascinating during my first and only visit to the Manti temple weeks ago. Being Chinese baptized into the church in Taiwan, I was most surprised to find Chinese people depicted in that mural. I felt it had to do with the gathering of the saints unto Zion. The welcoming Native American chief has a gesture like that of the Saviour in a popular Second Coming painting. I will go to the BYU studies paper you recommend here. Thank you so much for sharing your observations and research.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad I could provide some more information. That mural is definitely one of my favorites.

  2. Thank you for your post! It's really wonderful.

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  3. What a wonderful blog this is!

  4. I was surprised and impressed to see in one of the Christensen murals that, as you pointed out, there are Jurassic era creatures included. Fascinating! Thank you for a wonderfully informative blog.

    1. It's really unique! For background information on the Jurassic-era creature, see here:

  5. Curious if you have any info on the painting of Jesus and the children in the chapel?

    1. Hi Scott--I know what you're talking about. I haven't been able to find any pictures of the painting, or find out who it was done by. (I really should just walk to the front of the chapel the next time I'm there and see if I can spot a signature.) It looks like it is an older painting. I'm wondering if Dan Weggeland had a hand in it; it looks like his style. I'll keep digging and see if I can find any other info.

    2. I found that the painting of the Savior blessing the children was given to the temple by Bishop John B. Maiben. Still trying to find other information on it.

  6. I love this temple. The terrestrial room is one of my favorite in any temple.
    In the Baptitery I seem to remember the workers telling me that there uses to be a quote on the wall that has since been removed from the Doctrine and Covenants. Do you have any info or pictures?
    I have loved reading your blog by the way. You provide wonderful information. Glad I stumbled across it.

    1. Hi Brower Family,

      I haven't heard anything about an old scripture on the baptistry wall, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't there. Maybe I need to poke around the baptistry and ask the workers next time I'm in town. :)

      Glad you enjoy the blog!

  7. Wonderful comments on the Manti Temple. I plan to attend a session here soon while on vacation. Your comments will enhance our visit.n

    1. Glad to hear it, Kathleen! Have fun!

  8. I have loved reading your blog! I am a painter and love hearing about the history of the murals. do you have more information about the murals in Meza? what artists where involved in the renovations of the murals in the 1990's?

    1. Sorry I missed this comment, Anon! For more info on the Mesa Temple, see here: