Monday, February 8, 2016

Why were the first Ogden/Provo temples designed the way they were?

                                   The original Ogden Temple, 1972-2011.

                               The Provo Temple in 2014.

 THE original Ogden Temple -- and the current Provo Temple -- was/is like something out of "Star Trek." Their "modernish" architecture was simply strange ...
  How did such "birthday cake" looking edifices, or a "sci-fi" kind of design like that ever come to be for the most sacred of structures in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

                            Original Ogden Temple/Modern Tabernacle.

Short answer: The Ogden and Provo temples had strict budget restraints and were not supposed to be fancy, have multiple towers or any excesses. Ogden was also the first temple ever built specifically for the endowment film and to have sessions every 20 minutes.

 Long answer of design/development of the Ogden Temple, the first of the two temples to be constructed and completed:

                                             Fred A. Baker.

 Fred A. Baker, was assistant chairman of the Church Building Committee, from 1965-1972 and became the Church Building Committee Chairman from 1972-1991.
As the only surviving member of the Church's original building committee, I sat down for 2 1/2 hours with Brother Baker and got the story on the Ogden Temple from the only one left on Earth who was there and knows the whole story of it. (Also, the Church History Department had conducted some earlier interviews with Brother Baker on the Church's building committee during his tenure.)
From Brother Baker:

                                               President McKay

"President McKay has decided that he wants to do this. But he's ... how shall I put it … he is so terrified that the people will think he's a spendthrift. After the budget thing that we've been through and everything else, now, because that seems solved, suddenly we have the money for two new temples.
 “President McKay said, ‘We’ve never announced two temples. The people will think I’m insane. People will think I’m going to spend the Church right out of money. How can we do that?’ I mean, he was really concerned about this whole thing.

                                             Emil Fetzer.

  “So he is absolutely determined that these will be the most austere buildings ever built. And while we're present; the six of us; he gives Emil (Fetzer, the Church Architect) absolute, very clear instructions ... boy, no kidding about the instructions. There will be NO solemn assembly room. There's one in Salt Lake, one in Logan, one in Manti  ...  if they need a solemn assembly room, they can travel. There will be NO multiple spires. That is not necessary. A single spire is fine. No multiple spires. There will NOT be any excess footage. He's seen the typical temple where there's footage by the ton, because you don't build a temple on an austere basis  ... there will be NO cubage, because he's been up there and looked at that forty-foot ceiling and said, ‘Oh, I'm having to heat and air condition that’, you know?
  And so, I'm not kidding, I'm talking about austerity! "You must use [one] plan for the buildings. You can change the exterior panels to be slightly different if you want to make them look different, but the plan … I'm not paying for two architectural plans. ‘One plan.’”

  The Building Committee was also told that there was to be no Angel Moroni on the top of the two temples.
Notwithstanding, the Committee members still made sure the towers of both the Ogden and Provo temples would be strong enough to support such a statue, being unconvinced they still would not be added some day.

  Brother Fetzer was told by the First Presidency that even though the temples must accommodate large numbers of people, the costs must be kept at appropriately reasonable amounts. The temples were not to be as large or expensive as those in Oakland and Los Angeles, but they were to be full-size temples and not to be confused with the smaller temples of limited capacity, such as those built in New Zealand, Switzerland, and England.
The idea was that the Ogden and Provo temples would prolong the time before the Logan and Manti temples had to be refurbished also.
(It was estimated that to build a Los Angles style temple in 1972 would have cost about $12 million, or about three times as much as the Ogden Temple did.)

   “In describing how the ideas for the temples came about, Brother Fetzer once recalled: “I think this is the only building that I have designed in words before I started to put marks on paper.”

  Brother Baker’s recollections of the Ogden Temple beginnings continued: “And so Emil has to go back and get his nice little temple staff carved out and swear them to secrecy to keep all this going. We're just thunderstruck. Suddenly we've got two new temples we've never thought we'd even think about...that sort of thing. So Emil gets his little staff together and starts working on sketches. We're probably three months in by that time, and Emil and I are scheduled to go to London. But Emil has been in Los Angeles all week refurbishing the Los Angeles temple, and I've been in Salt Lake all week taking care of the building program, and we're going to meet Friday night at the PanAm building in New York and jump on PanAm.”

  Next, Brother Baker is informed the First Presidency has had BYU produce a new temple (endowment) film. It has been approved it (with some minor changes), and the Presidency has decided there is now authorization to use the film in North America.
  (Previously, there had been an endowment film in European Temples, because of the language differences, but never domestically.)
  “Wow! That's a dramatic change,” Brother Baker recalled thinking.
  This was a significant change, because it meant that the Ogden and Provo temples would not need to be designed with a “move room-to-room” (“Companies”) basis for the endowment now. An endowment film meant one room, plus a Celestial Room would be sufficient.

  Brother Fetzer’s architectural plans for the twin temples were then almost three months along. The First Presidency wanted a revised draft plan for the two temples by the following week. And, the plane trip to London was in the way.
  Brother Baker recalled: “There went Emil’s sketches, right out the window. All that work and everything . . .  I couldn’t wait to tell Emil because this meant multiple ordinance rooms would be possible. This revolutionized temple work. And I thought, ‘No, if I call him, it’ll wreck his whole day. He’ll never get the Los Angeles Temple’s colors. I’ll just wait until we meet.’”

  Here’s how Brother Baker recalls that historic plane flight to London:
  “So, I fly Friday morning to New York, and he flies Friday morning to New York, and we get there at 8:00 o'clock at night and get on PanAm, and we're on our way to London. As we get on the airplane, the stewardesses say, ‘We're late tonight, as you know, so instead of  the food being delivered cold, we had it all delivered all warm, so it's all ready for you, the minute we take off you're going to eat.’
  “And I say, ‘Well, I don't want to tell Emil. I don't want to spoil his steak. So, I guess I'll wait until we eat.’”
  “We have a nice dinner, and clear everything away, and then I can say to him now, ‘Emil, I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like to know about?."
  “And he said, ‘Let's get the bad news out of the way.’"
  “I said, ‘Well, your three months of sketches, you can throw them in the garbage can, because it's all changed.’
  “He said, ‘What in the world do you mean?’"
  “So I said, ‘Well, first of all, we don't need companies any more. At all.’”
  "’You're kidding!" he said. ‘We've always had companies!’"
  “I said, ‘Well, you don't need them anymore. The computer is now taking over the company.’"
  "’Oh! That's great!’"
  “And then I said, ‘Next we have a new temple film which is authorized for use in the United States, as well as overseas.’"
  “At first that confuses him a little bit, and he says, ‘Now wait a minute! What do we need a film for?"’
  “And I said, ‘Well, you need it because you're going to have smaller temples everywhere. You're not going to have casts that can do that. It's too difficult: too challenging.’"
  "’Oh yeah’", he says, "’I can see that. That's going to...’”

  “Well, anyway. So I said, ‘"Think of the possibilities now. Here's a Celestial room, and now you can put several ordinance rooms around it, on a schedule, so that they operate with each other, not against each other. So you have a central Celestial room, you have several ordinance rooms, you have a veil space, and what we have to do now is get that organized so that it makes sense and works together and not against each other.’"
  “I don't know, when you went to school, did you have to do simultaneous equations? Those equations where you had to solve two things at the same time, and when you got the solution, both answers were right? That's what we were trying to do that night. Emil got a tracing paper out and we're working on these little tiny, silly tray tables; and the nice girl comes up and says, "’What in the world are you doing?’"
  “We said, "’We're trying to work on a plan.’"
  “She said, "Well, look ..."  Back in the good ole' days ... plane in those days was a ... across from the galley was a regular restaurant table. You know, the table with two benches, and the girls used that to get the meals ready and everything. She said,’ We're not using that, why don't you come back and spread your stuff out on that nice (table) ...’
  “So, geez, we went back and spread our stuff out and we started see you had to know how many rooms, how many seats in a room. We knew the film length … We knew approximately how long it takes to get a number of people through the veil. And so you have all this information, and now you need to decide, ‘Let's see, many rooms, and how will it fit together, and the clock's running and we worked and worked and worked and worked, and, of course, neither one of us are mathematicians; we're idiots. It was the biggest mess you've ever seen in your whole life. We had papers and formulas. It was just comical.’
  “Finally, we get down to a thing where we try five rooms ... that won't work. Four rooms ... doesn't come out. You've got conflict in the veil space every time, and then in the Celestial room every time. And we just fuss and fuss, and finally we got six rooms with eighty people in each room, and we start going around, starting a session every twenty minutes to see how it works out.
  “Surprisingly enough, it works out, except in the veil space. And we keep working, and keep trying to figure out, ‘How is that working? It works in the rooms, why doesn't it work in the veil space?’
  “And them Emil comes up with the idea. We were going, in, two, three, four, five, six...and if you went one, six, and then in the middle, and then across, nobody ever saw each other in the veil space. It was just vacant when you went in there.
  “It all worked! And by the time we got that figured out, the captain came on and said, ‘In twenty minutes, folks, wake up; we're landing in London in twenty minutes .’ We worked all night long on that one little thing.
  Brother Fetzer’s design was influenced by a garden he had seen in Copenhagen, Denmark.

  Brother Baker recalled: “It was called the Danish ellipse. An ellipse is a circular form but not a circle. It has bent corners. During that night on the plane, we weren’t paying any attention to the design of the temple. We were trying to work out the mechanics. But when the mechanics worked the way Emil placed them, that turned out to be the ellipse. And that’s President McKay again, ‘I don’t want any excess space.’ And there wasn’t any. It was six rooms, a celestial room . . . I mean, it fit. And when he finally put the design together, we didn’t want the rectangle, so Emil rounded everything. It was called the Danish ellipse.

    “ … We took it back to the Presidency and they said, ‘Eureka! Let's go with that plan.’ And so suddenly we had a domestic temple that had the potential to just totally explode vicarious work for the dead,” Brother Baker recalled.
  “Isn’t that amazing? And it all came because Presidency made those decisions early on about switching to film. That changed everything. Everything just fell into place—absolutely unbelievable.”
 Brother Fetzer, the final “church architect" (and who served from 1965-1986), designed the Ogden/Provo Temples. However, Keith W. Wilcox, another Utah architect, is often erroneously stated as their designer. Brother Wilcox, as president of the Weber Heights Stake, was the today's equivalent of the "agent stake president" during the Ogden Temple's construction. He also drew the sketch than became the inspiration for the Washington, D.C. Temple and was the Ogden Temple’s third president.  Hence the confusion.
Another problem to solve for the Ogden Temple was where to locate it.
Jim Seely has provided yet another insight into why the Ogden and Provo temples were designed the way they were. He said that Keith W. Wilcox told him that Emil Fetzer based some of the design for the exterior of those temples on Exodus 13:21, which states" "The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way and in a pillar of light by night ..."
Thus, the white facade of the Temples was the white cloud and the golden spire was lighted at night to represent a pillar of fire.

Brother Baker said sites in North Ogden, northwest Ogden, the mouths of the canyons, near Weber State College, and basically much of the east bench were all investigated as possible temple locations for an Ogden Temple.
Many sites were unsuitable, because they were not available for purchase.
  In the end, the three finalists were these sites:

                                       The still steepled-Ogden Tabernacle in 2011.

1.    Tabernacle Square.

                    Former McKay Dee Hospital site in 2014.

 2. The property where the future McKay-Dee hospital at 39th and Harrison Boulevard would stand, across from Weber State University.

                                      The top of 9th Street in 2014.

 3. The top of 9th Street (east of Ben Lomond High).

Regarding the third choice, Charles C. "Chick" Hislop, former Weber State University cross county/track coach, said that was his parent’s property, Curtis and Jennie Hislop. He said his father always relished that his land was in the top three finalists.
  With the railroad industry, previously Ogden's "bread and butter" business shrinking, some downtown business leaders also heavily lobbied the First Presidency to have the temple built downtown, instead of on the hillside.
  That effort was really not required as LDS Church leaders chose historic Tabernacle Square on their own as the new temple site. Physical address of the new temple was on the 10 acres, southeast corner, 350 22nd Street.
  “The First Presidency announced plans to construct temples in Provo and Ogden, Utah, in meetings with stake presidencies from the two areas,” the Improvement Era magazine of October 1967 stated as having been announced on July 14 that year.
  The Ogden Temple’s location was officially announced on August 24, 1967 for downtown Ogden on Tabernacle 

 Tabernacle Square in Ogden was chosen by President Brigham Young, when he laid out the city in the fall of 1850. So, in essence, President Young himself indirectly chose the general site for the Ogden Temple too.
  In the fall of 1967, some excited Church members emptied piggy banks, postponed vacations and cutback on Christmas gifts that year, all to donate to the new temple’s construction.
  “Church members responded to the opportunity to contribute toward the building of the temples with great enthusiasm,” according to the January 1972 Ensign Magazine. “One bishop discussed the quota for his ward in priesthood meeting, and by the time Sunday School was over, the total quota had been contributed in cash. One family had saved for a special vacation, but they voted in their family home evening to donate the total amount to the temple fund and save again for their postponed vacation.”

  The February 1971 New Era Magazine chronicled the account of a ward in Harrisville, Utah that had been assessed $3,461 for the construction of the Ogden Temple. The bishop approached the youth of the ward, hoping to get them involved and to make up an anticipated shortfall in the fund-raising.
The girls scraped and painted old barns, tended children, bottled fruit and did ironing.
 The boys did everything  from washing cars to laying sewer pipe and the money was all raised.

  President Albert L. Bott of the Mt. Ogden Stake was the chairman of the temple’s finance committee.
  (Before April of 1982, many construction costs in the church came from stake and ward building assessments. From then, the church’s general fund paid for church building costs.)
 The drawings for the Ogden Temple were approved in early 1968. The Ogden temple site was finally dedicated on September 8, 1969 by President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Alvin R. Dyer. The groundbreaking was held the same day as President McKay’s 96th birthday), with Elder Hugh B. Brown turning over the first shovel of dirt.
  "This temple is being built because the Lord wants it built," President N. Eldon Tanner, stated in the Sept. 12, 1970 LDS Church News.
 President Tanner had laid the cornerstone on Sept. 7, 1970. Some 6,000 people attended that ceremony.
  According to the Sept. 12, 1970 Church News, The cornerstone of the Ogden Temple's time capsule is a copper sealed box that is 31 X 24 X 8 inches in size. It includes photographs of LDS General Authorities at the time and also of area stake presidents. In addition, it includes a picture of the U.S. President, Richard M. Nixon, as well as copies of current church magazines, Standard Works, church brochures and other historical materials.

However, there was one big casualty to the original Ogden Temple – the old Pioneer Tabernacle had to go. To make room for a temple, this historic structure was torn down in late summer of 1971.
  The 116-year-old building, on the Southeast corner of the Tabernacle Block, dated back to 1855 and had been remodeled several times, extensively in 1896 and again in 1966.
 That pioneer building was it was so close to the sidewalk on the south side of tabernacle Square, that if someone was asked to speak extemporaneously and they happen to be sitting in the rear of that Tabernacle, it was far quicker for them to exit the building, travel on the sidewalk and walk in the southeast door instead to the podium. (Thus, it sometimes seemed such such speakers were fleeing the scene.)

  Brother Baker recalled that the Pioneer Tabernacle was a structural disaster and had to go.
  “It was the worst example of a building he said. It had no class.”
 This building, being used as a genealogical library at the time, was located just southeast of the parameter of today's Ogden Temple and had to go.
  “On Aug. 31, 1971, a mechanical monster took a giant bite out of one of Ogden’s pioneer edifices – the historical LDS Tabernacle,” an Ogden Standard-Examiner story of June 29, 1975 recalled.
  “It was a power shovel that, within a few hours, had leveled the 116-year-old building which had served as a major center of religious activity in Weber County since its dedication in October 1869,” the story stated.
  It had  a “visual conflict” with the proposed new Ogden Temple, besides its poor condition.
  Additionally, an old Third Ward Chapel, also still located on Tabernacle Square was torn down too.
  According to the LDS Church News of Feb. 3, 1968, completion of the temple was originally planned sometime in 1970. However, that was not to be.
  Underground water problems, in particular, delayed construction about a year. (That's also what caused delays in the completion of the second Ogden Temple too.)

  Despite the many similarities between the Ogden Provo temples, they were certainly not identical.
According to an article by Doyle L. Green, “Two Temples to be Dedicated,” in the January 1972 Ensign Magazine:
“Even though at first glance the exteriors of the two new temples look the same, a closer inspection will show that they are quite different. The arches and grillwork for the doors and windows on the main floors have different configurations. The cast stone on the Provo Temple has a bas relief floral design whereas the Ogden Temple stone has a fluted appearance. An interesting feature of the Ogden Temple is the decorative metal grillwork covering the windows between the cast stone on the third floor. The floral or fountain motif is repeated in the tower of the Provo Temple, and the fluted column effect is beautifully featured in the Ogden tower, giving the towers, which rise –to a height of 180 feet above ground level, quite a different appearance.”


  The Ogden dedication celebration actually began on Dec. 14, 1971, with a special dinner at the Weber Heights Stake Center, for area leaders, many General Authorities, and the Presidencies of the Ogden, Provo and Logan temples, and their wives.

                                           Keith W. Wilcox.

“There was a very joyous air being experienced everywhere,” the journal of Keith W. Wilcox recorded of the dinner. ”People sensed that this was a very rare moment and appreciated being a part of it. There seemed to be a ‘tingle’ in the air.”
Brother Wilcox was also the Weber Heights Stake President.  His appointment over that temple project several years earlier had marked the first time a non-General Authority had held such a position on a temple-building project.
(Today, President Wilcox’s title would be “agent stake president” over the project – and President Wilcox would himself later be called as a General Authority, a member of the Seventy, from 1984-1989.)
  “At 7:00 p.m., I arose to make all welcome. I indicated that this particular hour was truly our ‘finest hour’ not only as stakes but an entire community.”
“After discussing the effect of the Temple on the community, I stated, ‘The Temple coming to our community has raised the general spiritual level to a great height.’ At this point the choir sang the ‘Hallelujah Chorus.’ We then distributed copies of the January 1972 Ensign which had been printed exclusively on new temples featuring the Ogden and Provo temples.”
The following day, Dec. 15, were tours of the Ogden Temple by leaders, VIPs and the press.
  Brother Wilcox said tour were made in the Ogden temple by groups of 35.
  “Those in the tour were tremendously impressed with what they saw,” Brother Wilcox’s journal recorded. “Going through the Temple was a thrill hard to describe. Everyone felt the effect of the spaces, especially the Celestial Room, which was magnificent achievement. It was truly a memorable evening and it truly became our ‘finest hour.’ Many have said since, that they will remember this evening as long as they live. It was that kind of gathering.”
  By the end of the evening, 5,797 individuals had toured the temple.
    A public open house for the original Ogden Temple was then held daily from December 16-30, 1971 (except Sundays and Christmas Day).  It was estimated that more than 150,000 people attended the open house.
  The temple, which cost $4.29 million (or about $25 million in 2014 dollar values), was dedicated on January 18-20, 1972, by President Joseph Fielding Smith. There were two dedicatory sessions on each of the three days.
President Smith arrived in a limousine on Jan. 18, followed by three large buses carrying other General Authorities and their wives.
Keith W. Wilcox had arranged for the buses as the most convenient and practical way to transport so many leaders and their spouses, from Salt Lake to Ogden, for three straight days.

 As the first dedication services began, President Smith made the following introductory remarks:
“May I remind you that when we dedicate a house to the Lord what we really do is dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service, with a covenant that we shall use the house in the way that He intends that it shall be used.”
President N. Eldon Tanner said the temple was a great blessing.  He suggested remembering the Temple in our prayers and that we can justify this temple by our attendance. He also pointed out that Jesus Christ did a great work for his with his atonement and that we can repay that debt by be willing to do vicarious work for others.

  President Erza Taft Benson stated in his sermon that this was the most important event that ever transpired in this great area of Ogden. He stressed that the Temple would bring us the treasures of Heaven.
In Elder Mark E. Peterson’s remarks, he said that the temple is the gateway to exaltation.
Patriarch Eldred G. Smith remarked that if young people understood the Celestial Law, they would walk from New York to Utah for a Temple marriage.
In between sessions, the General Authorities and their wives would board the buses again and went to a local restaurant for lunch.
  In the second dedication session, President Smith made reference to the Prophet David O. McKay and that the Lord had inspired him to proceed on the Ogden Temple.
  President Spencer W. Kimball admonished keeping the new Temple clean, sweet and pure. He pointed out that the Temple was like a new born baby – clean and pure from contamination.
  However, President Harold B. Lee had to finish one of the remaining one-third of one of the dedicatory prayers, when President Smith, then age 95, became too weak from standing so long.
  A portion of the dedicatory prayer stated: It has been our privilege, as guided by the whisperings of thy Spirit, to build unto thee this temple, which we now present unto thee as another of thy holy houses.
 Wherefore, according to the pattern thou hast given, and in harmony with the course pursued by thy servants who have been before, and acting in the authority of that priesthood which is after the order of thy Son, and in his holy name, we dedicate this, the Ogden Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ, to thee, the Lord.
  Still another portion of the dedicatory prayer was pertinent enough that it would be quoted in the “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith” priesthood/relief society manual for 2014:
 O, our Father, we long for the day when the Prince of Peace shall come, when the earth shall rest and righteousness be found again upon her face; and it is our prayer, spoken out of humble and contrite hearts, that we shall abide the day and be found worthy to live with him whom thou hast appointed to stand as King of kings and Lord of lords, to whom be glory and honor and power and might both now and forever.

  Talks given at each of the six sessions were all described as “very inspirational.”
The first Ogden Temple was dedicated inside the Celestial Room, in six different sessions, over three days, January 18-22, 1972. Closed circuit TV carried the dedication services to six other rooms in the Temple.
President Lee led the Hosannah Shout in all six of dedicatory sessions.

  The Ogden Temple area only included 24 stakes in 1972 and the temple district’s overall population at the time was 117,780 residents in Northern Utah and Southwestern Wyoming.

   Notwithstanding the 125-year wait, Ogden still had the church’s 14th temple (with the original version), which opened in 1972 and was also the first LDS temple built in the State of Utah – Since others were completed before Utah became a state and the first temple built in Utah territory in 79 years.
  However, the Ogden Temple came 95 years after the Logan Temple opened and 79 years after the Salt Lake Temple was completed -- an so Ogden area Saints had to wait a long, long time for a local temple.

  The new, 115,000-square-foot Ogden Temple had four floors, 283 rooms and soared 180 feet above the ground. Okland Construction was the contractor for the temple’s construction.

  The Temple boasted a modern design.
The ground floor was a square, providing a base for the two upper floors, the exterior stylobate of which is a modified oval in shape was how the Feb, 3, 1968 Church News described the Temple’s outside appearance.
The cast stone which covered the exterior of the Ogden Temple was formed in a fluted design. Between each panel of the stone there was metal grillwork, bronze in color and of intriguing design over windows covered with directional glass which appeared gold in color from the outside. The fiberglass tower was also gold in color.
  The Ogden Utah Temple was also, of course, constructed as a sister building to the Provo Utah Temple, which was built simultaneously and dedicated only a few weeks later than the Ogden Temple, on February 9, 1972.
  (Building the two identical temples together not only saved considerable money, but also shaved off about 18 months in construction time on the second temple, the Provo Temple.)

 Brother Baker said, "It was temple quality work," he said of the construction of the Ogden and Provo temples. "But we saved every penny we could. They were 'working' temples."
  Baker also admitted the building committee spent far more effort on the Ogden and Provo temple's interior, than on its outside appearance.

                Cornerstone of the first Ogden Temple, on the Northeast corner.


 When the first week's report of temple work statistics from the Ogden Temple reached the desk of the First Presidency in late February 1972, Brother Baker said the Brethren scoffed at the report. They couldn't believe so much temple work could be performed in one temple in a single week.
  The Brethren were especially concerned that the "flagship temple," the Salt Lake Temple was being outdone by Ogden.
  Brother Baker said he had to take the report back and re-check all the figures.
  Then, when he delivered the first full month's report of temple work in late March of 1972, the Brethren were even more skeptical. He said they simply could not believe the Ogden Temple could do more temple work in a single month than in all four of the other temples in --Utah combined.

        President McKay and Church Building Committee. Fred Baker is in the center rear row.

Brother Baker recalled:
  “They (the Brethren) were not as happy as I thought they would be. Isn’t that funny? I was leaving the room with the secretary of the committee, and he said, ‘You look pretty glum, Fred.’ He knew exactly what I felt. I said, ‘Well, I expected a little excitement. I thought that was wonderful.’ He said, ‘You just don’t understand. These are the senior brethren of the Church. In their whole life they have never, ever thought that any temple would do more work than the Salt Lake Temple. That just isn’t possible. Salt Lake is the flagship temple for the whole Church and you go out and put this little temple in Ogden and they do more work than Salt Lake. Don’t you know that was wrong?’] I said, ‘I didn’t realize . . ‘And he said, ‘Now it wouldn’t have been quite as bad if it had been Provo because of BYU and the MTC. But Ogden? Ogden? You’ve got to be smarter than this.’
  “Then I thought, ‘Oh well. Now I can understand it.’  It wasn’t that they were unhappy, but they just weren’t thrilled. I thought, ‘This is worth the BYU band marching up and down the Ogden streets as far as I’m concerned. This is huge!’
          “Well, you can imagine what’s happened to vicarious work because of all the temples now built. The Salt Lake Temple is the flagship temple, not the flagship temple plan. So there you go. Isn’t that interesting?”

   Brother Baker had to re-verify those figures too, but they were correct as the Ogden Temple ushered in an explosion of temple work.

(LOGICALLY, the Provo Temple has the same design limitations and dating as did the original Ogden Temple. Therefore, it is very likely that temple too will one day undergo some significant remodeling.)

SOURCES:  Recorded/transcribed of interviews with Fred A. Baker on Sept. 8, 2014; other interviews with Fred A. Baker  by the Church History Department; Interview with Sister Viva Wilcox; Articles in the Church Archives; Ensign Magazine Archives;  Ogden Standard-Examiner archives.
(Fred A. Baker passed away in 2015.)

        Painting of the Ogden Temple by Keith Wilcox, as if it was right by the mountainside.

-NOTES: The author, Lynn Arave, co-wrote "Rededication: The History of the Ogden, Utah Temple" book with Janai Ott for the LDS Church in 2014. He can be contacted by email at:
-This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 


  1. I enjoyed reading that !! .. that is both interesting and valuable information !!

  2. Thank you for this fantastic article! I have some thoughts on it to share, but unfortunately I have no references. I have read that President McKay was upset with himself for authorizing the Los Angeles Temple. He felt in the end it was significantly larger than what was needed and had a lot of wasted space. This would explain the insistence on no wasted space! On the Moroni, I do know that there were some early suggestions that the spires have Angel Moroni Statues, but that they were voted down early on. I find it interesting that there was intent to keep the spires strong enough to support a statue at a future date for 2 reasons. First, when Ogden was dedicated there were only 13 other temples in the world, and only 2 other Angel Moroni Statues, Millard Mallin's at Los Angeles, and Cyrus Dallin's at Salt Lake, Mallin's weighing 2,100 pounds and Dallin's weighing 1,500 pounds. By the time Ogden and Provo temples would receive statues they were being cast in fiberglass, and weigh less than 600 pounds each!

  3. I'm confused. Wasn't the Oakland California Temple designed and built for the temple film long before Ogden? A domestic temple using the film many years before Ogden. Oakland even uses a somewhat similar floor plan, instead of six rooms it only used two (now four), one on either side of a central Celestial room.