Early Temples of the Mormons, The

The Architecture of the Millenial Kingdom in the American West

By Laurel B. Andrew

Hardcover : 9780873953580, 218 pages, June 1978

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Table of contents

1. The Origins of Mormonism in Nineteenth-Century America

2. Latter-day Temples

3. Temple-Building Begins

4. Ritual and Symbolism at Nauvoo

5. Salt Lake City

6. Temples of the Kingdom of God: St. George, Logan, and Manti

7. Epilogue



This book is a study of the six temples which the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints constructed in the nineteenth century. Though sharing the characteristics of various revival styles, the buildings demonstrate a progressive modification of these styles so as to express the functions of the temples and to reflect the theology and politics of the Mormons. The four temples in Utah, designed by the church president Brigham Young and his builder-architects, symbolize the merging of spiritual and temporal concerns and, the author believes, were meant to play an instrumental role in the transformation of America into a millennial kingdom of God and a second Garden of Eden. Thus, the temples are studied within the specific context of Mormonism and the broader spectrum of American cultural history as well.

The account begins in Ohio, where the believers in Joseph Smith's restored gospel erected a temple resembling the New England meetinghouse in form and use. It follows the Mormons to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the second temple was built in the 1840s. The author demonstrates how the developing theology and the introduction of secret rituals began to change the meaning and the architectural form of the temple, as the style and architectural symbols were incorporated on the exterior of the temple. From Illinois the Mormons moved to Utah, where four temples were built. The most important, at Salt Lake City, is discussed in detail. The author evaluates the contributions of Brigham Young to its design, illustrates and discusses the drawings of the architect, and offers an interpretation of the symbolism of the building. She also discusses the attempt of the Mormons to establish an independent "Kingdom of God" in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ, and relates the Salt Lake City temple and the other Utah buildings to this effort. Her conclusion is that the Salt Lake City temple was to have a civic as well as religious function as the governmental center of the Kingdom of God. The other three Utah temples were intended to extend the authority of the Mormon government throughout Utah.