TEMPLE SQUARE, main entrance W. South Temple St. between Main and West Temple Sts., the heart of Mormonism and the most-visited point of interest in Utah, is a tenacre city block enclosed by a fifteen-foot wall. The grounds are landscaped with trees, shrubs, winding walks, flower beds in geometric patterns, and a velvety green lawn. Two greenhouses in the northwest corner and one north of the Temple provide flowers for the numerous beds and borders. The square is dominated by the six-spired Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the east side, but the turtle-backed Tabernacle, just west, attracts scarcely less attention because of its strange design.
The GREAT SALT LAKE BASE AND MERIDIAN STONE, without the wall at the southeast corner of the square, was fixed on the spot designated by Orson Pratt in 1847, when he began the original survey of Great Salt Lake City. Inside the wall, about fifty feet northwest, is a sandstone marker indicating the U. S. meridian line established by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1869.
he BUST OF CHARLES R. SAVAGE at the curb just south of the meridian marker, is a combined monument to Old Folks Day, June 21, and to its founder, Charles R. Savage, noted early-day photographer. A bronze bust of Savage, by Gilbert Riswold, stands atop a six-foot pink granite base with drinking fountains on each side.
The BUREAU OF INFORMATION AND MUSEUM, just inside the south entrance, is a long two-story white brick building with a Doric entrance. On each side of the entrance steps are stones bearing Indian petroglyphs.
Centering the first floor hall is Torlief Knaphus' Hand-cart Family, a bronze group portraying a man pulling a hand-cart, a woman pushing on one side, and a little boy pushing from behind. On the cart are a baby girl and the family's possessions. This group memorializes the Mormon hand-cart migration from the Missouri Valley to Utah between 1856 and 1861, when nearly 4,000 persons crossed the plains by this primitive method.
Visitors are assigned to missionary-guides in this building, which has a lounge for tourists. Books on Mormon theology can be purchased here, and post cards can be written on Brigham Young's octagonal wooden desk. Relics having importance in the history of the Church include a brick from the temple at Nauvoo and the "milliondollar bell" that once tolled from the Nauvoo temple. Personal relics of Church leaders include locks of Joseph Smith's and Brigham Young's hair, and various articles of their clothing. Oil paintings portray miraculous scenes from Mormon theology and history, and there are portraits of Church Presidents.
Relics of the migration and of earl), pioneer life are plentiful. The wooden-cogged "roadometer" used to measure mileages on the trek across the Great Plains, is shown in a glass case. A battered plowshare is inscribed as having plowed the first half-acre in Salt Lake Valley, in July, 1847. A dog-hair cloak recalls a time when clothing materials were so scarce in the valley that dogs had to be shorn. Pioneer furniture, much of it crude and simple, makes up a goodly portion of the first-floor display. There are spinning wheels, pioneer cradles, musical instruments brought across the plains, Brigham Young's safe bearing the inscription "Holiness to the Lord," early presses upon which the Deseret News was first printed, pioneer tools, and a great variety of other memorabilia.
The second floor, west room, is the Indian room. Some of the early Mormon homes were built on old Indian sites, and a portion of this collection came from excavations for pioneer homes. There are, however, accessions presented by present-day archeologists. Many of the best-preserved artifacts are from the San Juan country, including mummies, effigy jars, dippers, ollas, baskets, bags of dogskin and woven cotton, and a great variety of pipes. Displays in the eastern portion of the second floor were mostly collected by missionaries from nearly every part of the world.
The OLDEST HOUSE IN SALT LAKE CITY, a log cabin protected by an iron fence and wooden canopy, is in the southeast corner of the square. Built by Osmyn Deuel in 1847 near present-day Pioneer Park, it is placarded as the house occupied as winter quarters by Captain Howard Stansbury, U. S. Army engineer, during his survey of Great Salt Lake in 1849-50. Stansbury, however, describes his "weary and monotonous quarters" as "a small unfurnished house of unburnt brick or adobe, unplastered, and roofed with boards loosely nailed over, which, every time it stormed, admitted so much water as called into requisition all the pans and buckets in the establishment." The door of the cabin stands open, and visitors can see the oddly angled adobe brick fireplace inside.
The THREE WITNESSES MONUMENT, northwest of the cabin, is a rectangular gray granite block with bronze bas-relief likenesses of the three men, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, who testified that an angel showed them the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. The monument, sculptured in 1926, is the work of Avard Fairbanks.
The STATUES OF JOSEPH AND HYRUM SMITH, lifesize bronze likenesses of the Mormon prophet and his brother, mounted on square pedestals of Utah granite, are west of the Three Witnesses Monument, on opposite sides of the walk. Both statues were executed by Mahonri Young, grandson of Brigham Young. The prophet and his brother were martyred at Carthage, Illinois, in 1844.
The TEMPLE, facing cast from the east-central section of the square, is a monumental six-spired gray granite edifice, representing more the inspiration and theologic functionalism of its founders than any one architectural style. The building is 186 ½ feet long and 99 feet wide, with walls 167 ½ feet high. The east center tower rises 210 feet, capped by the shining, trumpet-bearing statue of the angel Moroni. The statue, of hammered copper covered with gold leaf, is the work of Cyrus E. Dallin, Utah-born sculptor. It is anchored by a pendulous iron rod, extending into the spire beneath, where it is heavily weighted, allowing free movement of the figure in high winds. The six spires, three on the east and three on the West, with their varying heights, represent the two high priesthoods of the Church. Those on the east signify the higher Melchizedek Priesthood, and those on the west, the highest rising 204 feet, symbolize the Aaronic Priesthood, each with its presidency and two counselors.
At the feet of the buttresses are the "Earth Stones," each bearing bas-relief carvings of the globe. "Moon Stones," depicting the moon in various phases, are on the face of buttresses about midway up the main wall. "Sun Stones," each with its halo of rays, are similarly placed near the top of the main wall. Other symbolic decorations include starred keystones over the round-arched stained-glass windows along the side; the clasped hands, the "all-seeing eye," and carven scrolls with the
inscription, "I am the Alpha and Omega," as decorations on end windows. High on the east facade is a tall arched niche with a gilded inscription, giving the inclusive dates, 1853-93, of the Temple's construction. The corresponding space on the west facade is occupied by seven stars in the form of the Great Dipper. Far up, flanking the central eastern tower, are cloud-and-rain symbols, fitting emblems for a temple in the desert. A battlemented parapet surmounts the walls, and the three major towers at each end rise from a mass of spires, turrets, pinnacles and finials, where pigeons nest and fly about, casting quick dark shadows on the clean gray granite. The six spires, softly lighted at night, are a landmark of the city.