Mormons believe that they must have temples in which to hold sacred rites and fulfill God’s commandments. According to the LDS faith, baptisms, marriages, and family-sealing ceremonies that take place inside a temple will last beyond death and into eternity (prior to entering a temple, members prepare for the spiritual experience by dressing in white clothing, which represents purity). The temple is used only for these special functions; normal Sunday services take place in local stake or ward buildings—in fact, the temple is closed on Sunday.
Only LDS members who meet church requirements of good standing may enter the sacred temple itself; others can learn about temple activities and see photos of interior rooms at the South Visitors’ Center . Non-Mormons are not allowed to enter the temple or its grounds. However, you can get a good look at the temple’s east facade from the Main Street gates.
The plan for Salt Lake City ’s temple came as a vision to Brigham Young when he still lived in Illinois. Later, Young’s concept became a reality with help from church architect Truman O. Angell; construction began in 1853. Workers chiseled granite blocks from Little Cottonwood Canyon , 20 miles southeast of the city, then hauled them with oxen and later by railroad for final shaping at the temple site. The temple dedication took place on April 6, 1893—40 years to the day after work began.
The foundation alone required 7,478 tons of stone. The walls measure nine feet thick at the base and taper to six feet on the second story. The tallest of the six slender spires stands 210 feet tall and is topped by a glittering statue of the angel Moroni with a trumpet in hand. The 12.5-foot statue is made of hammered copper covered with gold leaf.