Thursday, November 12, 2015

St. George Temple: Interior

Note: This is one of a series of posts on the interiors and floor plans of historic temples. Click here for posts of the floor plan and interiors of the Logan TempleSalt Lake TempleManti Temple, Mesa Temple, and Idaho Falls Temple.

A few months ago, I wrote a post that talked a bit about the St. George Temple's interior; however, the focus of that post was on what I'd like to see in a future renovation. My other posts on the pioneer temples each have floor plans and go through the temple in a more orderly manner. I wanted to do a similar post for the St. George Temple.

This was easier said than done. I could not find a floor plan for the St. George Temple anywhere--at least, that is currently accessible to researchers. So, I drew my own. Therefore, allow me to apologize in advance for the many errors these floor plans undoubtedly contain. I have only visited the St. George Temple three times; during none of those visits was I paying particular attention to the temple's floor plan. I believe I do have a good sketch of the basic layout, though. 

First, the temple has five floors. 

(Image Source: LDS Church Historian's Library)
The first floor is the basement (at the bottom of the photo above). The second floor and fourth floors are full floors; the second holds the endowment rooms, the fourth has the assembly hall. The third and fifth floors are referred to as mezzanine floors. They run along the temple's north and south walls (the boxes with diagonal lines in the photo above). They have sealing rooms and other smaller rooms. The second and fourth floor, therefore, have lower, flat ceilings on the sides, but the middle is open and the ceiling, arched. We'll see a bit of this in the photos.

I did not draw a floor plan of the basement. It consists of dressing rooms, confirmation rooms, a lobby, and a chapel on the west (back) end of the temple; the large room with the font is toward the west.
(Image Source)

Now, let's take a look at the main floor. The top of this floor plan is the east end of the temple (you'll notice the spiral staircases in the corner towers). This sketch does not include the addition to the back of the temple--a new hallway and lobby, built onto the west end, allows access to all three of the ordinance rooms.

This floor (and the fourth floor) has two sets of seven pillars along the entire building, which hold up the third floor. These are simple wooden beams that were covered with hollowed-out wood pillars that are beautifully painted and carved in the shape of a quartre foil. 

1 - Staircase to return to annex (originally, the area where patrons entered the temple from the annex)
2 - I'm assuming an area for temple workers can fit here.
3 - Creation Room (now Ordinance Room 1)
4 - Garden Room (now Ordinance Room 2)
5 - World Room (now Ordinance Room 3)
6 - Terrestrial Room (now Veil Room)
7 - Celestial Room
8 - South Sealing Room (there may also be another room in this area)
9 - Tower Sealing Room
10 - Anteroom (referred to as "Rose Room")

I'll now go through these different rooms with any images I have.

The staircase to the annex is currently used for patrons who are finished with their session and exiting the celestial room to return to the annex's locker rooms. However, this area was originally where patrons entered the temple from the annex, coming up a staircase and heading west (through what is now room 2) to enter the creation room.

This is the creation room as it was before the remodel that removed the murals, looking back toward the door that patrons entered. (While this was the back of the room, since the renovation, it has now become the front of the room). The windows here are on the south side of the temple. This room has been mislabeled (including by me, in the past!) as the world room. I'm fairly certain it's not.

I am fairly certain this is the creation room...but it may be the world room (ordinance room 3). (Any knowledgeable readers out there?) You'll notice the mural has been removed from the front and other walls of the room. The curtain at the front reveals a space to show the film.

The garden room is larger than the creation and world rooms. Since it's in the middle of the floor, it should have a high, arched ceiling--that's currently covered up with a flat ceiling. The door on the right side of the photo below entered the world room; that door no longer exists.

This photo shows more of the front. Notice the high ceiling that's no longer visible! Beautiful.

I don't have a photo of the world room before its remodel, but here's what it looks like today. Rather plain (although a portion of the mural was restored, but it's not in this photo).

(Image Source)

All of these rooms now feed into the temple's original terrestrial room. Here, the veil is in a large semi-circle at the front of the room. The arched ceiling is uncovered and easy to admire; clouds are painted on it, giving the impression of a desert sky.

Proceeding through the veil, patrons enter the celestial room.

The celestial room provides access up a simple staircase to a sealing room in the east tower. There is also a small sealing room on the south side. (There was originally one on the north side; however, the installation of an elevator in 1937 cut off this room. It's now a small anteroom that's called "the Rose Room.")

If you go to the third floor for sealings, you will see that it is simply one long hallway that runs the length of the temple on either side. It's the same for the fifth floor. The east tower also has rooms on the third and fifth floor; the tower room on the third floor was referred to as the "prayer circle room." 

Here's a picture of a sealing room, but this is one of the new ones, not one on the third or fifth floor.

The fourth floor is the temple's priesthood assembly hall.

 It has remained largely the same over the years; however, the windows in these images no longer exist, as the west addition covered them over. Feel free to click on the images to see them full size.

This room is beautiful--its arched ceiling plainly visible, with plaster flower decorations that were originally meant to house light fixtures; its uncovered windows that allow light to stream in on either side, and its original pulpits on the east and west ends of the temple. A wonderful description of this room was given when the temple was rededicated in the 1970s:

"Afterward, some lingered for a few moments for a last look at the temple’s interior. The results of remodeling were scarcely noticeable; the rich textures of the original floor boards, hand railings, and woodwork remained intact. Perhaps most striking was the pervading whiteness of the interior, much like the clean, sunlit whiteness of the exterior—a dignified and unpretentious whiteness entirely appropriate to a house of the Lord. On the walls were portraits of the prophets of this dispensation.

Leaning against the cool plaster wall, one could see through the original glass of the large windows the massive, red sandstone bluffs to the west, and, to the east, a wide expanse of rolling flatland bordered on the hazy horizon by colossal cliffs of Navajo sandstone."

I will not get into what I'd like a remodel to deliver, since I talked about that in my other post. Even as it is, this temple is one of the most significant historical sites of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That it continues to be used for what Mormons consider to be sacred work is even more commendable. From all I've been able to research, the Church is taking very good care of this building, and future renovations will only further restore it to its original splendor. If you ever have the opportunity to visit--don't pass it up!

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