Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 2014: Historic Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Temple and tabernacle on Temple Square from the window on the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building

I won't get into the private details, because that is not my story but someone else/s and I will let them tell it how they want it to be told.  I also didn't secure permission to name names so I won't do that either.  I will say this that one of my closest buddies went through a divorce a few years ago and met a woman who was also divorced, dated, fell in love, got engaged and remarried in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.  We were invited to go.

Sunset over the Salt Lake Valley

We drove down on Friday and spent the night because the ceremony was scheduled at 8:20 the following morning.

I did not take any photos inside the Temple as cameras are not allowed there.  However the interior of this temple has been officially photographed and the images have been made available.  There is a difference between secret and sacred.  This falls to sacred.  If you wish to see the images of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple, follow this link:  Salt Lake Temple Interior Photos

The link is not my blog site, so I make no claim for any of the content.  I just found the images to share.

Our day began in the Temple with the wedding.  Photographs of the families on the Temple grounds followed.  After that we ate at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  When the meal was over, the bride and groom left and we stayed on Temple Square for a few hours with my friends two adult daughters.  We had not seen them in about fourteen years.  When we lived in Washington state, our families had been very close. Our kids and their kids were very close in age and we hung out all the time.  When our friends would go out of town, we'd go house sit for them and take care of their kids.  We had been very close.  I took a job in Idaho in 2000 and we fell out of contact for a long time.  About four years ago we reestablished contact through social networking online.

As I said, we had not seen these girls for fourteen years.  When we left Washington they were kids.  When we saw them last week they were adults, strong, well adjusted grown women, beautiful.  Every now and then we saw hints of the little girls we used to know but they were layered in with the strong woman each of them had become.  It was a wonderful day.

Inside the Temple, there was a Polynesian wedding taking place at the same time.  In fact there were 94 weddings taking place on that day.  It was a busy day for the Salt Lake Temple.  I brought up the Polynesian wedding for a purpose.  I saw several Polynesian men wearing white shirts, ties, suit jackets and lava-lavas. A lava-lava is a skirt that is worn by men and women in Polynesian culture.  The lava-lavas were made of the same material as the suit jacket.  For their culture, this was formal wear.  I told you that so I could tell you this.

The bride at the wedding we attended is from India.  She converted to Mormonism several years ago.  A tradition in India is for brides to be painted with henna before their wedding.  Our friend's bride had both arms past the elbows done in henna and both legs up to the knees.  The groom had a little bit done as well. It was beautiful.  Cultural traditions are accepted so long as they don't conflict with church doctrines.

The Temple Grounds
After the wedding, we went out to the Temple grounds to wait for the bride and groom to come out for the photos.  As I said earlier, there were 94 weddings taking place that day, so everything was timed and choreographed to the last detail.  We had to wait for two or three bridal parties to exit the building before it was our turn.  So we hung out with our friends' daughters.

Exterior of the Salt Lake Temple

Exterior of the Salt Lake Temple, front

Detail of the sign above all LDS temples.  It says "Holiness to the Lord".  This
one is significant because the stonecutter who carved it lost a leg in an accident
while constructing the Temple.  He fashioned a wooden leg and walked twenty miles
to the temple site every Monday morning and back every Thursday night.  He climbed
a scaffold and carved the "Holiness to the Lord" on this temple.

The front doors of the Temple.  No longer used, the Temple entrances are in
adjacent buildings and you enter the Temple through tunnels

Custom hardware for the Temple doors

My son and the Hot Chick at the Temple

The Hot Chick and I at the doors of the Temple.  She's a lot prettier than I am,
as it should be.

My son and I along with my double chins

The Hot Chick flanked by my friends two adult daughters

My son with our friends


That's me in the middle with our friends

A passing photographer took this picture of all of us together.

Then the bride and groom appeared and we spent an hour or so taking pictures.

The bride and groom exit the Temple

First kiss?  Well probably not

The Hot Chick with the happy couple

The henna

The bride loves peacocks so there were about a dozen of them in her henna

The rings in the groom's henna painted hand

The groom's ring in the bride's henna painted hands

Social networking

One of my friend's daughters in a candid shot

Us and them

The blended families

This was originally a statue niche.  The statues were removed in 1911 and living
statues have taken their place ever since

Our friend's other daughter in a candid shot

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building used to be the Hotel Utah.  Years ago the president of the LDS church had an apartment on the upper floors of the building.  The building has been made more public now and is part visitor center, part restaurant, part conference center.  It's quite the swanky place.  I don't think they rent out rooms anymore.

The views of the Temple from the upper floors are stunning.

The spires of the Temple

Statue of the Angel Moroni

Details of the stone masonry of the Salt Lake Temple.  Interesting to know that these stones were hand carved.  Before the railroad came to town all the stones were brought to this site by wagon and ox-team.  When the railroad came through Dry Cottonwood Canyon, the construction of the Temple accelerated.

More detail.  The Temple was dedicated forty years to the day of when Brigham Young laid the cornerstone

More detail

More detail

Spires of the Temple

Reflections of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in modern windows 

More reflections

Juxtaposing the old with the new

This is one of the church administration buildings on Temple Square

The landscape.  The building on the left is called the Church Office Building.

Stained glass skylight in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building

The carpet

Call it serendipity, but the bride loves peacocks and there were peacocks in the carpet in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  Coincidence?

More building reflections

More building reflections


So I like building reflections in glass

Here's another one

Surprise surprise

The Temple reflected in a downtown building

More of the Temple

The Assembly Hall in reflection

Main floor interior of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Detail of the capital of one of the columns

Chandelier and lighted glass on the first floor

Railing detail

Green marble column (I think it's really painted marble, but a good job of it)

Old Victorian chair in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
The Assembly Hall
For the rest of the afternoon, we spent time on Temple Square with our friend's adult daughters.  It was very nice to spend time with these girls we hadn't seen for a decade and a half.

Built from 1877 to 1882, the Assembly Hall replaced the original Tabernacle built on Temple Square.  The old Tabernacle was built from adobe and was deemed inadequate.  The current assembly hall seats about 1400 and is still used for musical events and overflow for the LDS General Conference.

The building was built in a Gothic Victorian style as a cruciform but has Star of David windows above each entrance which symbolize the gathering of Israel.  It was built from the same granite as the Salt Lake Temple, but was not smoothed like the stone from the Temple.  It was built from stone that was rejected from the building of the Temple.

Oak and marble were in short supply to the early pioneers, so they had artisans mimic oak woodgrain on the benches and marble finishes on the wooden columns.  All the buildings on the old section of the Temple grounds show a great deal of hand craftsmanship that the newer buildings don't have.  I like the old stuff better.

The Salt Lake Assembly Hall.  I have obviously not mastered the art of making
the sky blue in photographs

Interior shot of one of the stained glass windows inside the Assembly Hall

Marbleized wooden column

The organ inside the Assembly Hall

Spiral staircase inside the Assembly Hall

Ceiling detail

ceiling detail

Oak woodgrain painted on pine

Detail of the exterior of the Salt Lake Assembly Hall

The Salt Lake Tabernacle
The Salt Lake Tabernacle is perhaps as famous as the Temple.  It's pretty amazing what these pioneers were able to accomplish.  It's also pretty amazing that they did it from within rather than going outside the group to do it.  The Tabernacle has an elongated dome that is 150 feet wide by 250 feet long.  It has some of the finest acoustics of any building on earth.  Frank Lloyd Wright called it "one of the architectural masterpieces of the country and perhaps the world."

The building houses the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and boasts one of the largest and most famous pipe organs in the world.  Nails were pretty scarce on the frontier, so almost no nails were used in the construction of the building.  Instead the joinery was made with dowels and rawhide.  In short, it's a pretty cool building.

The Tabernacle on Temple Square

Interior of the Mormon Tabernacle

One of the most famous pipe organs in the world

Wood columns painted with a marble finish

Carving on the top of the pipe array

The group inside the Tabernacle

Painted marble on the walls

Painted woodgrain on one of the original benches

Vintage glass

Another view of the exterior
The Conference Center
The Tabernacle was the home of the church's semi-annual general conference for about 130 years.  After that amount of time, the building was inadequate and so a new building was built to house the conference. The new building was called the Conference Center and boasts an auditorium of over 21,000 seats.  It may be the largest such structure in the world.  It has three levels, each one with 7,000 seats.  It's very big.

Because of it's location directly below capitol hill in Salt Lake City, the church and it's architects decided to put gardens on top of the conference center.  They used native grasses and trees and wildflowers to make it blend in to the prairie.  Because of urban sprawl, the prairie is many miles away.  The rooftop gardens are pretty cool though.  The builders discovered a natural spring under the grounds of the conference center so they plumbed it up through the building and created a waterfall on the outside of the building.  The excess water is drained off through a manmade creek called City Creek.  All in all it's a pretty cool thing.

The Conference Center from Temple Square

The waterfall on the Conference Center

This is a huge hall

The choir and orchestra in front of a massive pipe organ

On top of the conference center, rooftop garden

The McCune Mansion.  We attended a wedding reception there twenty-some odd years ago

Fountain on top of the Conference Center

Covered skylights.  Normally uncovered, but when there is a television shoot inside they cover them to control light in the space

Sandblasted mural on black granite on the rooftop garden


Wild grasses

Native trees on the roof

Colossal cloud coming over the mountains

The Temple from the Conference Center

The Tabernacle from the Conference Center

The Angel Moroni sculpture on the Temple, as seen from the rooftop garden
The Visitor's Center
We also took the girls into the Visitor's Center on Temple Square.  I won't post a lot about it, but I will show a few pictures.  The day was getting close and it was time to go home.

The Mormon version of the Guggenheim 

The Christus statue

The group at the Christus statue

Another view of the Christus statue with the heavens as a backdrop
The Road Home
We had a great time with our friends.  It was delightful to see how those two young girls had grown into women.  It was good to see my friend happy.  It was a great day. 

Landscape near the Idaho/Utah border


Sunset at Hell's Half Acre Lava Flow rest area on the way home

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