What the visitors will see, who begin flocking there this weekend is a temple that has been created with painstaking effort to have an historic flavor about it. Not only is that two spire exterior reminiscent of another time, the interior has beautiful moldings, ornate décor around the ceiling and floors, round windows, and a sense of calm and loveliness that could be from another century.Residents from Brigham City, say they have looked forward to a temple since at least 1911, when Joseph F. Hansen offered several acres of land east of the cemetery on Reservoir Hill to the Church for the purpose of building a temple. At first the idea was looked upon favorably, but two years later the First Presidency had to turn down the land because research had indicated that Hansen didn’t have a clear title to the property.At long last, the waiting has paid off, and even before the public begins to tour this weekend, you can come on a tour of the temple from your armchair.
The temple stands on 3-1/2 acres directly across from the historic Brigham City Tabernacle. As if it had been reserved as a temple location, this spot, right in the heart of the town, once housed the Central Elementary School, originally constructed in 1900 and rebuilt after a fire in 1947. Central Elementary School served thousands of children for nearly 100 years, including President Boyd K. Packer and his siblings. Now that place of learning has been replaced with a place of heavenly learning.
The angel Moroni facing east on the temple spire was created by Karl Quilter, who has created similar statues for many temples. Though Quilter works hard to understand what Moroni might have looked like, he quips that he thinks about the fact that someday, at the end of his life, “I’ve got to face Moroni.”
President William R. Walker noted that the Brigham City Temple is the 139th in the Church and has taken nearly three years to build. He reminisced with the press that when he was 11 years old the primary president came to him and said that when he graduated from primary he would have to have memorized the 13 Articles of Faith and the names and locations of the 9 temples of the Church. That was in 1955.
Elder Walker told the story of how the land was located in a speech he gave at the temple ground breaking as reported by Clint Christensen. When they went to Brigham City to locate the land, Elder Walker said, “President Monson had asked President Packer to accompany him on this visit, trusting his judgment and his knowledge of this area, and his love for the area. We parked our cars over in this little parking lot, just off to my left, and we exited the cars and stood on the ground where you are now seated, and President Monson turned to President Packer and asked him what he thought. President Packer said, ‘President Monson, I think this is the perfect place for a temple.’ President Monson immediately said, ‘That’s good for me,’ and he raised his arm to the square. It was a wonderful moment for me to witness.”
In this picture, the spire of the old and beloved Tabernacle can be seen behind the white walls of the new temple. The temple walls are made of pre-cast concrete and steel beams, built to last for a very long time.
Temples are built both with symbols reflecting eternity and also symbols of the local landscape. Here at the side of the temple and on the fence is the repeated motif of the peach blossom, reminiscent of the peaches that Brigham City is famous for.
President Thomas S. Monson announced the Brigham City Temple at the Oct. 3, 2009 General Conference. In July 31, 2010, President Packer presided at the ground breaking and, since this is his home town for which he has tender feelings, he will also dedicate the temple Sept. 23.
Among the earliest converts in the Brigham City area were 1188 Indians from various tribes, but particularly the Shoshone, who joined the church in the 1870’s. Many of their descendents have been invited on a special temple tour before the open house begins. One of the notable paintings, an original done for this temple, depicts one of these Indians being confirmed. It is in the temple baptistery.
Some fruit trees on the temple lot have already borne fruit. Historian Clint Christensen and Elder Greg Peck who has been working with the construction picked a few of the apricot trees and took them to Elder Packer. They knew they were his favorite.
The baptistery sits on the back of twelve oxen as in all temples and as is described in l Kings 7. In most temples the oxen are made of fiberglass, but these are particularly unique because they are made of These oxen are particularly unique, however, because in a desire to be consistent with the historical feel of the temple, these are made of cast bronze and were created by Stan Watts. It is also of note, that the oxen are not all identical. They have three different builds, different hair, different horns and different ears. Each one is slightly different.While we think of the oxen as holding the baptismal font in a circle, in actuality three each face the four cardinal directions.
The endowment or instruction rooms feature beautiful murals on each wall painted by Greg Smith. The first temples built in Utah had murals on the wall, and then that practice was dropped for some time. In the most recent temples in the last 15 years, that practice has been revived and the landscapes reflect the region where the temple is located.
Another practice that has been revived is progressing from room to room during the endowment so as to give a sense of the progression toward God that the instruction represents. This is the second instruction room in the temple with the veil at the front. Only one endowment session can be held at a time in this temple. During the first months after the temple has opened, reservations will be required.
This bride’s room is certainly one of the most beautiful in the temple. In an another tour a reporter asked if there is a groom’s room and Elder Walker quipped that what they get is an oversized locker.
The celestial room is a peaceful, glorious place that features an alcove, unlike most temples where the room is symmetrical.
The peach blossom motif has been continued in the cut glass of these circular windows.
The detail work on the stairs is another expression of the historical feel of the temple, in keeping with the pioneer community where it was built.
The carpeting throughout the temple is in shades of pink, green, and blue and follows the peach blossom motif. In the celestial room, the carpet is carved to follow that same theme.
The crowning ordinances of the temple take place here in the sealing room.