Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Those Who've Gone Before": Salt Lake Fourteenth Ward

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

Built in the 1910s, the Fourteenth Ward chapel in Salt Lake City had some rather plain architecture. However, it had a huge stained glass window that really set it apart.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
As you can see, the chapel itself, while nice, wasn't very ornate.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
 However, at the back of the chapel stood a huge stained glass window that faced the street.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
The chapel was torn down in the 1960s; the Salt Lake Palace was built in its spot. However, the window was saved, and is on display in the Church History Museum.


I should have included something for scale, because this window is quite large--I would guess around 8 feet tall; maybe taller.



This window really made the chapel something unique. It's quite ornate, and I'm glad it's been saved and preserved by the Church.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Smithfield Fourth Ward

This chapel was built in 1940 and has a fairly nice appearance. It is similar to the Salt Lake Twelfth Ward, albeit with some differences.

(Image Source: Church History Library)
The major change has been the window material and the removal of the window going into the chapel. It's unfortunate that the brick that replaced it doesn't match as well, too. Still, it's some unique architecture.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Scottsdale First Ward

I wrote a post a few months ago that briefly mentioned the endangered status of the historic Scottsdale First Ward (in Arizona). Since then, with the help of blog reader Chris Schweikart, I've been able to piece together a history of the building that gives some insight into the treatment of historic buildings in the Church. The Scottsdale Ward was created on March 16, 1947, and within 3 years they were beginning construction on their own chapel. The building was dedicated on December 21, 1952.
(Image Source: Chris Schweikart)

You'll notice that the building was fairly small in comparison to its later size. The chapel and the recreation hall were perpendicular to each other, and the chapel had a choir loft with some nice stained glass. (That stained glass is still in the building.)

Original chapel; the pulpit was to the right. (Image Source: Structured Real Estate)

 (Image Source: Structured Real Estate)

This original building was soon to small to effectively serve the ward, so by 1958 there was a big remodeling project. The recreation hall became the new chapel, rooms were added to the building, and the original chapel became classrooms and other meeting areas. This is a fairly big change to have after only 6 years of service. It also meant that the new chapel had doors on its north wall that led directly into the chapel. This meant that one ward couldn't exit their Sunday School classes when another ward was having their Sacrament meeting, so all of those classrooms were given exterior doors.

Sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, another remodeling added more classrooms (completely encasing the classrooms that used to open outdoors) and redid the entrance and spire to the building. It looked much more modern than before. In fact, by this point, there had been so many projects that the building looked almost completely different.

(Image Source: Church History Library)

(Image Source: Church History Library)

Even so, the building would have been preserved, if not for a fire set by an arsonist on November 7, 1973. Three different fires were set, resulting in damage to the roof and water damage in the building. The damage that the fire caused, especially to the roof and attic, probably could have been repaired; the majority of the building was in good condition. Nevertheless, it was decided that the building would be sold and a new chapel would be built. This decision was likely influenced by the age of the building--renovations and repairs on older buildings can be notoriously expensive, and the Church is often more willing to build an entirely new chapel than refurbish an old one. In 1974 or 1975, the chapel was sold.

It served as an office building for a while, and some other changes were made. In recent years, it sat abandoned, and in 2012, it was slated for demolition. Those plans (thankfully) were never carried out but as recently as last year, it was listed by one local newspaper as an "Endangered Building."

(Image Source: Structured Real Estate; captions by Chris Schweikart)

Fortunately, in April 2016, the building was purchased by Structured Real Estate, an organization which specializes in re-purposing old buildings. The meetinghouse will now hold offices and a restaurant.

The Scottsdale Ward may be considered a fairly plain example of a chapel for which the Church no longer has any use. However, its story ends up being a good example of the dynamic changes that our meetinghouses can undergo. It was built too small, and ended up having various renovations which did not match its original architecture and which created confusing floor plans.

(Image Source: Structured Real Estate; captions by Chris Schweikart)

In spite of all of the work done on the building, when the fires damaged the structure, the Church was all too willing to leave the meetinghouse behind and build a new structure. Perhaps the building was not considered worth saving, between its various remodelings and its relatively plain architectural appearance. But it is still a lovely building. 

(Image Source: Structured Real Estate)

The Church is now much more careful about the way it treats its building, but that's also because it has so few architectural treasures left. The Scottsdale Ward will continue to stand and serve a useful purpose, but the opportunity for it to stand as an architectural, historical, and cultural icon for the Church is largely lost.

(Image Source: Structured Real Estate)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Weston Ward: Stained Glass Details







Besides the main window, there are transom windows above the entrances to the chapel and cultural hall.

There are also small transom windows above the windows on the sides of the main entrance.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weston Ward: Stained Glass Window

This is the window at the front of the chapel:


When this chapel was built, the Bishop had to meet with other Church representatives to explain why the chapel cost so much. One of the men told the Bishop that such a large, ornate chapel was not needed for a small town; the Bishop responded, "maybe we would like to attract some tourists."


It was also the Bishop's initiative the brought stained glass to this chapel; he had served in Europe and was used to seeing stained glass windows in buildings of worship. He was offered this window from Bennett Paint & Glass for about $600--a steep discount, because they said the window had imperfections. The Bishop said he was never able to find what was wrong with it, although some of the colors might be burned wrong.



At the top of the window are Alpha and Omega symbols; at the bottom are the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I'll provide details of these symbols, and some of the other windows in the building, in my next post.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weston Ward: Interior

The people of Weston, Idaho helped build this chapel, including forming some of the unique and beautiful metalwork found here in the lobby.


The chapel itself is also very nice!


On either side of the main window is more metal work:


But the real highlight is the stained glass window in the center. My next post will have several close-ups of this and other stained glass windows in the building. I'll also tell a little about the history of the window.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mesa 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 Manti TempleLogan TempleSt. George TempleSalt Lake Temple, and Idaho Falls Temple.

This blog's main focus is on meetinghouses, because that is where the greatest variety of architecture in Mormonism can be found; furthermore, LDS Temples have already received a lot of attention and analysis when it comes to their architectural designs. However, I decided to add this post on the Mesa Arizona Temple to my previous series of posts on historic temples. I hesitated to do so before, because it is more difficult to get quality photos of the Mesa Temple, especially from before its renovation. Fortunately, some sources have been helpful (notably, Evan Tye Peterson's The Ninth Temple: A Light in the Desert), including a helpful reader of the blog that was able to provide some photos.


The Mesa Temple has a symbolic floor plan that has yet to be satisfactorily used in any other temple. It was the 7th operating temple built by the Church (not counting the Kirtland and original Nauvoo temples). The first, St. George, had patrons go from room to room in the basement (later moved to the main floor) of the temple. The next three, in Logan, Manti, and Salt Lake, used progression from room to room that led patrons on a journey of ascension through the temple floors. The next two, in Cardston and Laie, had the celestial room in the elevated center of the temple, while patrons passed through the four protruding wings as they completed the endowment ceremony.

The Mesa Temple was built around a grand corridor and central staircase. A local article described the symbolic nature of this floorplan:

"The stair hall is designed to serve more than the purely utilitarian accommodation...It suggests the story of man from earthly birth to the regions of celestial glory, and reflects the successive stages of progression. From the Temple entrance...may also be seen, through a glass screen at the end of the passage[,] the font room and the font...while above and at the end of the stairway hall stands forth the portal to the celestial room. The grand stairway may be said to typify the every upward pathway which terminates in celestial glory."

Even the temple's exterior reflects some symbolism. It has several panels on the outside depicting the gathering of Israel (which we will cover later), but the temple has a large first floor, where the baptistry and other auxiliary functions (offices, locker rooms, etc.) are located. The elevated portion of the temple houses the endowment and sealing rooms.


The baptistry is very well done, with terra cotta oxen sculpted by the well-known Torleif Knaphus.


One of the oxen has a crooked horn. No official explanation for this anomaly was given; it has been suggested that it represents the imperfect nature of man, and their invitation to still participate in the work of salvation.


You'll notice there was originally a chair covered with tile on one end of the baptismal font. Originally, two proxies would enter the font; one would be confirmed in the chair while the other was baptized; then they would switch places. This was removed in the 1975 renovation of the temple.


The baptistry also has some lovely murals, painted by J. Leo Fairbanks. The north wall shows Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receiving the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist; in the background, the Susquehanna River is shown.


On the south wall, Joseph Smith is baptizing Oliver Cowdery. I believe the baptistry still has these murals today, but I'm unsure.


As was mentioned, the baptistry could originally be glimpsed from the temple's entrance. Once passing into the temple, patrons could see, immediately ahead, the beginning of the grand staircase. One historian wrote the symbolic effect this had on patrons:


"As one enter's the temple, the stairs with the Celestial Room at their top can be seen straight ahead. Before beginning the ascent, a person must first receive initiatory instructions and preparations [located on the temple's first floor]."

After being prepared to participate in the endowment session, patrons began the journey up the staircase. At the top is the door to the Celestial Room, with the words "The Glory of God is Intelligence" written above the top. This is the view at the bottom of the staircase.


However, halfway up the staircase, patrons were directed instead to enter the door on the right of this picture. This led them into the Creation Room, where they began their journey through the endowment. The glimpse of the words above the door were important--the endowment, in Latter-day Saint theology, gives patrons the intelligence they need in order to enter the Celestial Kingdom, through a series of covenants they make with God.


The creation room has very few pictures documenting its mural. The northeast corner of the room shows a chaotic landscape of rocks and darkness; from this corner, the mural slowly showed the emergence of light, vegetation, and animal life that shows the creation of the world. Fritzoff E. Weberg (pictured here) painted this mural. His son painted the Creation Room mural for the Idaho Falls Temple.


The Garden Room showed a peaceful landscape representing the Garden of Eden. This was done by Alma B. Wright. Each wall showed the head of the river, representing the four rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden.



The World Room was done by LeConte Stewart. It shows the desert wilderness, dark thunderstorms, and a fight between a stag and a bear, all set in the landscape of Arizona. 



In the terrestrial room, the walls and ceilings were tinted white and cream. Delicate moldings appeared along the edges of the room.




From here, patrons passed into the Celestial Room. Some sealing rooms are accessed off of this room. It is very well done, and fits the style of the temple wonderfully.





When patrons exit the celestial room, they come out at the top of the staircase--the very door that they viewed as they began to ascend the stairs. Lee Greene Richards painted two murals along the sides of the staircases. Along the north wall (to the left of this picture) is a painting of Joseph and Hyrum Smith preaching to Native Americans and sharing a Book of Mormon.






On the south side is a painting of a Native American being baptized. It's to the right of this picture; this is one mural of which I don't have a satisfactory image.


The exterior of the temple has some nice friezes depicting the gathering of Israel. These were sculpted by Torleif Knaphus. This one, on the east side, shows French and Swiss people on their way to Holland, having come down from the Alps. Behind them are Italians.


In this one, facing the north, those in Holland are now embarking for America. Germain saints work with bedding; the Dutch leave their windmills behind, and others are entering the ship.


On the west, we see Saints arriving in America. English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish persons can be observed here.


On the north, we now see the Saints crossing the plaints and arriving within sight of the Rocky Mountains, which come up across the frieze, from the left to the right.


This panel, on the South Side, shows a handcart company also making their way across the plains.


In this panel, on the west side, a group of Mexican people are travelling toward Zion as well.


There is also a panel on the east side showing Native Americans doing the same.


Finally, on the south side, Pacific Islanders are depicting living their normal lives, not travelling. This is because the Laie Hawaii Temple was already built at this time, and this group did not need to travel to receive the full blessings of Zion.


In 1974, it was announced that the Mesa Temple would be the first of the older temples--which still used a live endowment--to close and be remodeled to accommodate a film presentation of the endowment. It closed from February 1974 to April 1975. As a result of this renovation, the creation, garden, and world rooms became "stationary" rooms, where patrons would spend almost the entire ceremony. Because the only way to get to the celestial room was through the terrestrial room, it was changed to a "veil room" that all patrons used at the end of the ceremony to enter into the celestial room. This allowed sessions to be held every 45 minutes.

This, of course, ruined much of the progression of the temple. What's more, it was decided that the murals were no longer needed. Workers were told that the murals would not be used again, so many parts of the paintings were torn off in bits and pieces. The murals had been painted on burlap, which had deteriorated significantly. Parts of the murals that were saved were shipped to Salt Lake City to be stored there.

Five years later, in 1980, the temple was still very busy. an area of the temple that was formerly used for sister patrons was remodeled into a fourth ordinance room, and sessions could then be held every 30 minutes.

In 1991, the parts of the murals that had been saved were sent back to the temple. Only a small portion of the murals were still usable, so one wall of each ordinance room had its mural replaced. The creation, garden, and world rooms all received a piece of the original mural that had hung there previously. Ordinance Room 4 (which had not existed before 1980) also received a part of the mural that had been in the world room. The Church hired a painter to do restoration work on the murals that were reinstalled in the temple.

(Image Source)
The Mesa Temple is an architectural treasure of the Church. It is unfortunate that it was modified so drastically, but I believe that I hope that it will one day be restored to its original condition. The building of the temples in Phoenix and Gilbert have decreased its load. Many of the murals would have to be repainted, but it is certainly possible.