Come, Come Ye Saints

Mormons across the globe celebrate the rebirth of a fallen temple

Idaho State Journal Net, June 30, 2002

Graham Garner

The new Illinois Nauvoo Temple virtually mirrors its 1840s model it was based on the plans of the original architect.

While the original Nauvoo temple was built by members of the church living in Nauvoo and using supplies from nearby areas, the new temple is the work of Latter-day Saints from all over the country and supplies came from places like Idaho Falls, Alabama and even Canada.

Though Mormons built their first temple in 1836 in Kirtland, Ohio, they were forced to leave it before they could use it to perform religious ordinances. Missouri Gov. Wade Boggs had issued an extermination order against all Mormons, so church followers fled to Illinois.

The original Nauvoo temple was the second temple built by the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints, but the first used for its intended purpose. It was soon destroyed, however.

Lost for more than a century, blueprints drawn by Williams Weeks resurfaced in the 20th century and the church used them to guide the reco Members of the Chubbuck Wards wait Thursday evening to enter for the satellite feed of the dedication of the newly rebuilt Nauvoo temple. nstruction of the temple. Weeks received substantial input for the design from Church President Joseph Smith.

To build the original temple, women donated dimes and pennies to a temple fund and more than 1,000 men gave every 10th day to the temple's construction. Even English Latter-day Saint women collected pennies, sending the 50,000 coins weighing 434 pounds on a boat to Nauvoo. Followers had little money, so they volunteered their labor and gave up jewelry, china and other heirlooms to buy building materials.

The first Nauvoo temple cost an estimated $1 million by the time it was completed.

In both old and new templ The new LDS Temple in Nauvou, Illinois. es, the corners have star stones and a stone inscription placed between the first and second venetian window on the temple's east end reads, "Holiness to the Lord The House of the Lord."

The east end of the temple has an elliptical window in the gable, with 234 pieces of hand-set diamond-shaped glass in the window. The window itself is made up of various sashes of different shapes.

As in most Mormon temples, the baptismal font rests on the back of 12 oxen, representing the 12 Tribes of Israel. Nauvoo's oxen are carved stone.

While the old and new temples are nearly identical in many ways, the 156-year gap between the two has created some differences:

The old and new temples are exactly the same in dimension, measuring 128 feet in length and 88 feet in width. The tower and spire rose 165 feet (the new one is two feet shorter). The six floors created more than 50,000 square feet of floor space within.

The gray limestone quarried from nearby locations for the first Nauvoo temple slowly took shape over a five-year period from 1841 to 1846, eventually forming a 60-room building within walls three feet thick.

Nauvoo's stone quarries are now flooded, so the new temple's limestone came from Alabama and was cut into block in Idaho Falls before carvers in various cities received them for the final touches.

While the original temple was built with stone-on-mortar, the new temple is a concrete superstructure with a stone facade. The stonework decorating the exterior of the temple was affixed to a stainless steel frame.

Just as in the original, sun stones cap pilasters around the temple's exterior. The stones feature a ray-encircled sun with a human face and two hands, each holding a trumpet. Only two of the original sun stones survived, which craftsmen used as a pattern for the new ones. Stone carvers even used the same method the original workers used to create the sun stones by hand.

Much of the work on the modern temple was not done with modern tools. Wherever reasonable, the church directed those working on the temple to cut, carve, shape and build by hand.

Skilled artisans from Idaho, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Canada completed the stonework.

One noticeable difference on the exterior of the old and new temple is an angel atop the spire. The original had an angelic weathervane that rested in a horizontal position, while the new one like many of today's Latter-day Saint temples features an angelic personage, known as the angel Moroni, who stands upright and has a horn pressed to his lips.

The new temple's interior has many modern necessities such as elevators, safety systems and electrical work required by building ordinances, but they are discreetly tucked away from view. The interior's appearance is true to the mid-1800 style. Low-level lighting simulates the effects of candlelight that would have lit the first temple.

(The official magazine, "The Ensign," and official Web site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints served as sources for this article.)