Why Didn’t the Pioneers Build Walls in the St George Temple?
After years of reconstruction, the St. George Temple will be dedicated in December. The temple has been closed since November of 2019 and has been undergoing significant renovation.
The temple has a long history, going back to 1871 for the groundbreaking by Brigham Young and was dedicated by Erastus Snow in 1877.
When I used to visit the temple, I wondered why it didn’t have the look and feel on the inside of the era it was built. Why didn’t it look like the Logan, Manti and Salt Lake temples that it proceeded. Those three temples have intricate decorations from that pioneer time that makes it feel like you are stepping into the past. The light fixtures, crowning, and especially the murals in the three pioneer temples feel to me like walking in Victorian age castle.
The temple in St George had none of this feel. The walls were mostly unadorned, and the murals painted on the walls looked to be from a later time. Overall, the inside of the temple did not give the impression it was built in the 1800’s and had a much more modern feel.
It wasn’t until I was speaking with former Mayor Dan McArthur about his family’s experience with the temple going back to his grandfathers, that it helped me understand why there was a difference.
The St. George temple was designed like the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples. It had an assembly hall on the top floor and the lower area was left open, being divided by curtains. These dividers extended from the ceiling and were used to partition the room for the temple ceremonies.
Permanent walls were not put into the lower section until 1937. In 1975 the temple was remodeled again with the progressive rooms remade into three endowment rooms that could use a film rather than the live performance of the endowment. Finally, it made sense why the inside of the temple looked like it had been built later, because it was.
The open house has been a long time coming and it will be fun to see what the inside looks like now. From a press release from the church, the open house will begin on September 15 and continue through November 11 with the dedication on December 10, 2023