Sunday, November 30, 2014

Architecture Highlights: Tracking Torleif Knaphus (Part 1)

Note: The "Architecture Highlights" series focuses on some aspect of LDS architecture that can be found across many chapels. To see all of the posts in this category, click here.

A second post examining Torleif Knaphus' works is found here.

Torleif Knaphus is not well known among most Latter-day Saints, but most of them have seen his works at one point or another. He was the sculptor of many items—including the friezes on the Mesa Arizona Temple and the Pioneer Monument on Temple Square—but one of his well-known items is the bas relief titled “Women at the Well” (I’ve also seen it called ‘Christ the Fountainhead’), which was originally done for the Cardston Temple. That was in 1923. This post will examine some different locations where this carving is located. A future post will highlight other carvings that are in LDS chapels.

 (Source: LDS Church History site)

The bas-relief was originally above a pool, reminding patrons of Christ's promise of "living water." The pool has since been removed, but the bas-relief remains.

This sculpture has been replicated and placed in many meetinghouses around Utah and Nevada. I first noticed it at the Provo Temple, in the lobby directly behind the recommend desk. According to the description, it was moved there from the Monroe North Ward which was demolished about 1980:

(Monroe North Ward; Source: Church History Library)

Other locations of this sculpture include the exterior of the Edgehill Ward Chapel in Sugarhouse (Salt Lake City). It was originally colored but when I visited, the colors had been removed:

Just a few blocks away, the Wells Ward has its own copy in the chapel.

The Manti Tabernacle also has its own copy, this one with color.

Finally, the first ward in Tremonton also has one in their chapel.

You will notice there are differences between the copies. The copy in the Edgehill Ward is much less detailed than the one in the Wells Ward. The copy in the Manti Tabernacle shows the desert colors of the Holy Land; the one in Tremonton shows green hills. There are also some differences in how the nearby city is depicted.

Another location of the bas-relief is Knaphus' boyhood Lutheran church in Vats, Norway, where his descendants gave the church a 33" replica.

This might be the most well-known of Knaphus' works, but many other chapels have carvings done by him. A second post will soon be published that looks at these works.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Springville 1st and 3rd Wards

Note: This post is one in a series that focuses on LDS architecture that is not historic, but that departs from standard cookie-cutter plans to become unique and beautiful in a different way. To see all of these posts, click here.

The Springville 3rd Ward used to have this remarkable building:

 (Source: Church History Library)

 However, it was abandoned and this building replaced it in 1950.

(Source: Church History Library)

 It still stands today near the center of Springville.

 There were several things I liked about this building, including its chapel:

There's an impressive view of organ pipes, and some nice stained glass windows. The cultural hall is also perpendicular, to the left of the chapel. It has a partition that can open, which would be an interesting way to view services.

 It also has glass windows so that people in the lobby can see inside the chapel.

Here's a better view of those stained glass windows:

 Although it appears they aren't original to the building. This is what the exterior chapel wall looks like now:

And here's a view of it before:

 (Source: Church History Library)

 You'll notice that the entire wall was basically windows, but none of them were stained glass.

Finally, I like the carvings around the doorways of this meetinghouse:

Simple, but they add a lot. It was a meetinghouse I just stumbled upon, but I'm glad I did.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Payson Second Ward: Chapel Interior

There are two architectural elements that I love about this chapel--the windows/doors on the north and the overflow on the south.

These doors are stunning. I'm not sure if they're used. The building has been remodeled numerous times, and even during times of general architectural sensitivity, like in 1970, the stained glass has remained.

Finally, the overflow (which you can see on the left side of the chapel in the top photo) is a classroom with a divider that opens. There is no glass, so it doesn't function as a cry room. It looks like chairs are just set up and the divider is opened. The cultural hall is in a different part of the chapel, so they had to use this as their option. I like the idea.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Provo Pioneer Ward: Chapel Interior

It is clear that this building has undergone heavy renovations. It currently serves as a stake center and meetinghouse for several YSA wards, and it has two chapels--both of which can double as cultural halls. Neither of the chapels have pews; they use chairs.

 I was under the impression that this was the original chapel, because of its prominent location in the building. It turns out it was actually the original cultural hall. I found this out after finding some old photos of the building:

(Source: Church History Library)
The ceiling has changed, but the windows are the same.

This is the view from the pulpit. You'll notice the fans in the chapel. When I stopped by to take photos, a member of the bishopric remarked that he knew this was a historic building because it doesn't cool down or heat up very well. (I took this picture in the summer.)

 This is the second chapel on the ground floor of the building. You'll notice that both of these chapels have curtains that can be drawn over the rostrum during non-religious activities. This is an interesting idea to me--and I'm not particularly a fan of it--but it works. This was the original chapel, although it looks very different now:

I'm a fan of that off-center pulpit.

I also like the cry room--although, since only YSA wards meet here, I guess it's not necessary.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Payson Second Ward

I've had a conflict in identifying this building--I've seen it identified as the Payson Second Ward; the LDS Church History Library identified it as the Payson Fifth Ward. Whether it's the 5th or 2nd ward, it was built in 1896.

(Source: Church History Library)

As you can see, there have been many changes--most notably, the grand entrance facing the corner was renovated into classrooms and offices. I'm not sure how I feel about the exterior, which is now a light shade of green.

It is still a lovely building, and the chapel is stunning. Incidentally, this chapel also used to have a social hall that is now demolished and the cultural hall (connected to the meetinghouse) stands in its place:

(Source: Church History Library)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Provo Pioneer Ward

I have driven by this meetinghouse before, but didn't know much information about it. When I took this picture, I actually discovered a cornerstone (hidden by the largely overgrown bushes). It said the chapel was built in 1913.

(Image Source: History of Provo Utah East Stake)
The building's architecture has had major changes over time. It was a wonderful example of the Prairie style before a major remodeling (I'm guessing in the 1950s or 1960s) added a steeple and removed the original grand entrance.

Source: Church History Library

After poking around a bit, I actually discovered that the building wasn't completed until years later. It was dedicated May 22, 1919. It cost $17,000 to build. The reason it took so long was "adverse crop conditions" for two years and then WWI.

I like the windows and the look of the stone. Pictures of the interior are coming shortly.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Preservation Predictions: Remodeling the Provo Temple

Note: The 'Preservation Predictions' series examines what historic Mormon buildings may be renovated/preserved in the future. For all of the posts in this series, click here.

  Luminous rays of early sun
Pierce eagerly and seek
A solemn and a precious spot
There, just below Squaw Peak,
To irradiate, set sparkling,
A brilliant gold and white:
Our gleaming Provo Temple,
Each morning’s bright delight.
(Val Wilcox, "Jewel in a Valley Setting," Ensign, February 1972.)

The Provo Temple, along with its 'sister temple' in Ogden, departed drastically from the architecture of prior temples when they were dedicated. When it was announced that Ogden would undergo a dramatic change of appearance, rumors began that Provo would soon follow. The Church promptly and has consistently denied those rumors, saying that there are no plans for such a renovation. I'm not sure if that means one will never happen, though.

The Provo Temple will need to be remodeled, eventually. I agree with this letter in hoping that the appearance of the Provo Temple not be altered in the future. I particularly like the quotes he shares:

"Preservation is not simply about saving the most beautiful things," Columbia University's architecture school dean Mark Wigley told the The New York Times in a report on the debate to save half-century-old "ugly" modernist buildings. "It's about saving those objects that are an important part of our history..."

"You have to focus on the significance of the building and not its style, because styles will come and go," said John Hildreth of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Remodeled Ogden Temple (Image Source)

Not everyone agrees, though--the Daily Herald reported that they surveyed nearly 800 people on whether the Provo Temple should be redesigned as Ogden was. 51% of respondents said yes.

I know that the Provo Temple looks different--my MTC companion called it the "cupcake on the hill" when we went up to visit it. I also admit that I have attended the Provo Temple more than any other temple, and so have a deeper emotional connection to it. But why do we as members feel the need to modify our historical structures?

The Ogden Temple wasn't remodeled just to change its appearance. Scott Haskins noted that there were three main reasons: It suffered from a "perpetual mold problem" in its basement because of the high water table, it was built on a fault line and was seismically unsafe, and it was doing 35 marriages a year. (I'm not sure how many marriages the Provo Temple does, but I'm fairly certain it's a bit more than that, as I've passed several weddings parties on my way in. I'd estimate 2-3 a week.)

Still, the signs are encouraging that such a remodel is not going to happen. For the past couple of years (this year being an exception), the Provo Temple has been closed for 6-8 weeks twice a year, instead of the usual 2 weeks. This has been for special renovation work--more extensive work than is usually done on a temple, including a new awning. They've also completely redone the restrooms on the main floor (so much that the doorway to get to the restrooms changed spots--when I came back after it had changed, I almost ran into the wall where it used to be), and added a custom mural to the front of the chapel that depicts Christ and His disciples. These aren't things that are typically done if you're planning on completely renovating a temple soon. I'm not sure if the Church is trying to do as much as they can without totally closing the temple, but they've been able to do a lot.

I hope the architecture of the Provo Temple sticks around for a long time--enough so that future generations can also see it and learn to appreciate the unique architecture that sets the temple apart.