Tours begin through Provo temple
In January, volunteers from LDS stakes in Springville and Provo began guiding visitors through the newly completed Provo City Center Temple, the 150th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Anticipation of the new temple has been great since LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson announced on Oct. 1, 2011, that the Provo Tabernacle would be rebuilt as a temple. The tabernacle was nearly completely destroyed in December of 2010 by a fire that left only the building’s brick shell intact.
Public tours of the temple, located at 50 S. University Ave., Provo, officially began Jan. 15, but some tours were held before that date for specially invited guests, including a tour for the media on Jan. 11.
“I marvel that this is the 150th temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” LDS Church General Primary President Rosemary M. Wixom told members of the media just before they entered the new temple. “I remember as a little girl memorizing all 15 temples.”
The new Provo temple is an homage to the pioneers who settled the Provo area and the popular design elements of the late 1800s. Beautiful carved wood, stained glass and arched windows throughout the building reflect the time period when the tabernacle was originally built. Ground was broken for the tabernacle in 1883 and the dedication held in 1898.
“It’s in a way a memorial to the past, but now we will look forward to the future, its function and use as a temple,” said Elder Kent F. Richards, a member of the Seventy and executive director of the church’s Temple Department.
Design elements such as wood moldings and newel posts that existed in the tabernacle were replicated in the temple, but only one item from the tabernacle was salvaged and placed in the new temple. The item, a piece of intricately carved wood about four inches wide, came from the tabernacle pulpit and was used as part of the pulpit in the temple’s chapel. The tabernacle had a removable pulpit to make room for musical performances, and it had been taken out of the main area at the time of the fire, allowing this piece to survive.
“This is just a stunning example of the Lord giving beauty for ashes,” Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a member of the Seventy and assistant executive director of the church’s Temple Department, said of the temple during the media tour.
When LDS temples are built, their décor often reflects their surroundings. The columbine flower, a plant found in the mountain valleys of Utah County, is one
motif used throughout the Provo City Center Temple. Works of art hanging throughout the temple depict scenes from the Utah Valley area, including one large work by Springville artist Robert Marshall titled “Hobble Creek Glory.”
Marshall also painted the murals for the walls in one of the temple’s two instruction rooms. Both rooms – the other painted by Orem artist James Christensen – feature depictions of the creation of the earth and the Garden of Eden.
There are individual seats for temple patrons in the instruction rooms, but the seats are joined at the back, giving them the look of wooden church pews. Wilson said this type of seating is unique to the Provo City Center Temple and was done to reflect the wooden pews that were in the Provo Tabernacle.
Much of the temple is located underground. Most patrons will use underground parking and enter the temple on that basement level, which includes about 53,000 square feet housing dressing rooms and the baptistry. A second basement level of about 11,000 square feet includes a laundry, mechanical equipment and the 12 bronze sculptures of oxen that support the baptismal font.
The two floors inside the former tabernacle measure about 11,000 square feet each and house the instruction rooms, the celestial room and sealing rooms for weddings. Wilson said as of the date of the media tour, 500 weddings had been scheduled at the new temple.
Some LDS temples rent temple clothing to patrons, but that service will not be offered at the Provo City Center Temple.
Patrons will be able to enter the temple at ground level on the east side of the building. Just inside that entrance is a large art glass piece depicting the Savior cradling a lamb in his arms. The 120-yearold piece was removed from a Presbyterian church in New York, Wilson said, and purchased by an LDS church member who then donated it to the temple. He added that it is one of the most beautiful pieces of art glass found in any of the church’s temples.
“To members of the church, temples are the most sacred place on earth. We consider it the house of the Lord,” Richards said. “We are a temple-building people. The purpose of temples is not just to construct beautiful buildings but to provide opportunities for members to come and receive life-saving ordinances.”
Visitors by the thousands have begun walking through the newly completed Provo Center Center Temple. Pictured above is the celestial room of the temple.
This multi-floor staircase showcases the fine woodwork found throughout the new Provo City Center Temple.
The piece of carved wood just underneath the flat top of this pulpit, now located in the chapel of the new Provo City Center Temple, is the only item that was able to be salvaged from the Provo Tabernacle and used in the temple.