Historic Temple Video: Salt Lake Temple (1904-1911)

Today’s video is a 1904 update to the Salt Lake Temple. This particular video is the essence of nit-picky, as the whole reason it exists is a 18×8 foot vestibule added on to the front of the temple annex. I only learned of this addition last month, and just in time to work it into the Historic Temple video line-up. The following changes have occurred on temple square since the last Salt Lake Temple video was posted:

  • New vestibule/entry on the annex,
  • Conservatory (greenhouse) completed
  • Old Greenhouse (remains of Endowment house) removed
  • New greenhouse built in North West Corner
  • Bureau of Information constructed on south lot (octagonal building)
  • Temple is a darker gray, due to soot fouling from the Boiler House
  • Taller Chimney on boiler house in unsuccessful attempt to reduce soot fouling

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.