Historic Temple Video – Salt Lake Temple (1893~1904)

Having finally got caught up with the Church again for the third or fourth time this year, I am diving back into my historic Temple models once again. Today’s installment int he Series is the ‘as dedicated’ version of the Salt Lake Temple.

I spent much time on this temple model working on that fantastic annex that the temple originally had, as well as the boiler house. A close look at the grounds will show the guardhouse, formerly the architects office, as well as Orson Pratt’s observatory. The greenhouse that was originally included in as an attached part of the Garden Room is included, as is the last remaining bit of the endowment house, which functioned temporarily as a greenhouse for the temple grounds themselves.

The Elevator Myth

There is a story widely spread about the elevators at the Salt Lake Temple. I have also heard it told about Cardston Temple, but just once, and even then it was absurd.

The story is short, and says that Brigham Young demanded that large open shafts be left inside the temple, and required they not be filled. Later when it came time to install elevators int he temple, these shafts proved to be exactly the right size, even though elevators had been unheard of prior to that point.

I have not been able to find a source for this myth, often these stories have at least some basis in truth, but this one, I cannot find anything at all that could conceivably be linked to the origin of this one.

The Truth Of It

Even at the time the saints were crossing the plains, elevators were already in use elsewhere in the world, especially in Europe. When Truman O. Angell did his study mission in Europe, looking over famous bits of architecture, several of the buildings he visited had elevators int hem, including the Palace of Versailles in France.

Meanwhile, back in the United states, the Otis Elevator Company was founded, patented and sold their first commercially available elevator in 1853, the year the Saints broke ground for the temple. Partway through the construction of the temple, Otis Elevator Co would provide the church with a bid for elevators for the then still under construction temple. This bid can be seen in the Church History Library’s online archive, and is dated June of 1883, 6 years BEFORE the temple was completed. The Angel on the top of the east tower was still planned to be a weather vane until at least 1887, so the plans for Elevators pre-date the plans for the Angel Moroni statue. An elevator lift and elevator equipment can be seen on one of the later floorplans of the temple.

The fact of the matter is the Salt Lake temple was dedicated with the Elevators already functioning and in place. There never were any mysterious shafts, and the same goes true for any other temple you hear this rumor about.

4 Replies to “Historic Temple Video – Salt Lake Temple (1893~1904)”

  1. One more thought: I’d love to see a new, small temple designed with an exterior that would be a “duplicate” of this original annex building!

  2. That is a beautiful video! In your own way you are preserving history in a form that people will pay attention! I for one appreciate it!
    I’d love for you to do a full video showing each of the four sides of the Mesa temple when it was first built, showing the small gardens that eventually got filled in. I know you’ve done a view still photos, but a full video would be awesome.
    Meanwhile, about the elevator rumor: The full rumor continues on to say that when they decided to install electricity and even gas lines, there was, mysteriously, spaces to put them! But, when you read history, you discover they were planned for all along. There is also a variation of the rumor that there are still “empty spaces” to install things in the future. We do love our rumors, don’t we.

    1. Oh so many historical temple videos are planned. I have slowly collected, and still am collecting, temple versions that can be modeled. Just last week I found an expansion that had been made to the Salt Lake Annex around 1904. I have plans to do an ‘as-dedicated’ video for every temple. For most temples, this will just be me upgrading the video quality of the existing model. For many, this will be a whole new model. Currently, I am well over 330 new videos I plan to make. There will be an as dedicated Mesa model, And then I am not sure if I will do a 1953 video, with separate 1954 and 1955 videos (the courtyards were enclosed one after another each of those three years) or if I will do one 1953-1955 video and ” fill in” each courtyard as I go around.

      The second part of your rumor has a basis in fact. Back during one of the renovations, the Gas lines that had been initially placed in the temple were removed. The resulting channels that were left were used for running new data lines. My source for this is that the guy who told me about it had been involved in the renovation, and had a 8 inch chunk of one of the gas lines they removed. Another fun fact along with that is how the gas line was made. The soaked strips of paper in oil, and wrapped them around a wooden dowel, then hung them up to dry out. when dry, they would remove the dowel, and that is how they made the gas-line pipe. So flammable gas was run through flammable pipe. Probably a could thing they abandoned the gas lines before the interior was completed!

      I wish I had photographed the pipe, but it was back in my flip-phone days, so it would not have been a great photo anyway!

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