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10 Fascinating Facts About the St. George Utah Temple

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The St. George Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently hosting a public open house, allowing visitors to tour the sacred edifice. 

I was recently able to attend the open house and learned a number of things about the temple that made me better appreciate its history and renovation. Here are the ten I thought were the most interesting!

ONE

The original tower of the temple was much shorter than it is today. The builders were in a rush to finish the temple—Brigham Young, who was deeply involved in its construction, was in rapidly declining health. They wanted to complete and dedicate the temple before he passed away. Part of this effort included a shorter tower. 

Those efforts were rewarded. The temple was dedicated on January 1, 1877, seven months before Young passed away.

The problem? Young reportedly strongly disliked the shorter tower. He didn’t think it was as magnificent as the rest of the temple. 

In 1878, lightning struck the tower, causing it (and only it) to be badly damaged. This time, the architects built a tower that was much taller and more grand. 

Those who remembered Young’s original displeasure couldn’t help but wonder if he helped facilitate the change with a little heavenly fire. 

TWO

In order to get as much natural light into the temple as possible, the original windows of the St. George Temple were made of plain glass. Though most temples today have elaborate stained glass and windows you can’t see through, the renovated temple has clear glass windows.

To help maintain the sacred nature of the temple, all of the windows have beautiful white lace curtains. Still, you can see the lights shining through!

THREE

That doesn’t mean stained glass is completely absent from the temple. You’ll find it in one special and perhaps surprising place: the bride’s room! Featuring a beautiful royal blue and gold floral motif, it is on the ceiling and illuminated from a skylight above.

FOUR

Speaking of lights, the beautiful chandeliers inside are actually symbolic of the journey we make back to our Heavenly Father as we live the gospel of Jesus Christ. At first, you’ll notice the light fixtures feature ornate black hardware.

As you move through the instruction rooms, the chandeliers include more and more gold.

Finally, in the celestial room, the magnificent chandelier is made of crystal.

FIVE

The baptismal font and oxen are the originals donated by Brigham Young, who paid $5,000 for their design and construction. Live oxen were used as models for the design. It weighs nearly 5,000 pounds and it required a complex system of ropes for pioneer architects to get it into place. 

SIX

In the past, temple visitors would move from room to room, a representation of biblical principles and our own progression toward God. Though this progressive style has been discontinued for the renovated St. George Temple, the three instruction rooms have been painted to represent the original rooms: the creation room, the garden room, and the room that represents the world we live in.

SEVEN

Animals were painted into the new murals of the instruction rooms after they were installed. This includes a peacock that is almost invisible and hiding behind a row of chairs. Other fun details include a bear and a whale.

EIGHT

The murals in the chapel are actually from the historic Salt Lake City Utah Temple. A team scanned and digitized the original mural and had it recreated for the St. George Temple.

The mural in the front of the chapel is of Jesus Christ and the mural on the back wall is of landscape of ancient Jerusalem. 

NINE

While President Wilford Woodruff served as President of the St. George Temple, he had two visions of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. In the visions, these men questioned why their temple work had not been completed. 

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A famous painting of these visions, entitled “That We May be Redeemed” by Harold I. Hopkinson, used to hang in the temple lobby. After the renovation, the painting was moved to a hallway and across from a frequently used elevator. 

TEN

The large priesthood assembly hall has been fully restored and includes pew seating. Before the renovation, temple workers often worried about walking on the wooden floor. This room is where the dedication of the temple will take place on December 10, 2023. 

You can tour the St. George Utah Temple for free from now until November 11, 2023. You can reserve tickets here.

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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