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The St. George Utah Temple (formerly the St. George Temple) is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in St. George, Utah. Completed in 1877, it was the church's third temple completed, but the first in Utah, following the migration west of members from Nauvoo, Illinois, following the death of the church's founder, Joseph Smith (1805-1844).


The building is located in the southwestern Utah city of St. George. It was designed by Truman O. Angell and is more similar in its design to the Nauvoo Temple than to later LDS temples. The St. George Temple is the oldest temple still actively used by the LDS Church. The temple currently has three ordinance rooms and 18 sealing rooms, and a total floor area of 110,000 square feet (10,200 m2). It was originally designed with two large assembly halls like the earlier Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples. In 1938, the lower Assembly Hall was rebuilt with permanent walls dividing it into four ordinance rooms. The four ordinance rooms were later changed into the present three rooms, at the time the endowment ceremony was changed from a live presentation to one presented on film.

In the 1970s, the temple was closed for extensive remodeling. LDS Church president Spencer W. Kimball rededicated it in 1975.

Temple construction and dedication[]

A temple in St. George was announced on November 9, 1871 by Brigham Young and was dedicated on April 6, 1877. Even though the Salt Lake Temple had been announced and commenced years earlier (1847 and 1853), construction on that temple was not completed until 1893. The St. George Temple was built to satisfy the church's immediate need for an appropriate place for temple ceremonies and ordinances. Because of the pressing need, the building's groundbreaking ceremony was held on the day the temple was announced. It was the third to be completed by the church and the first one in Utah.[1]

Young chose a 6-acre (24,000 m2) plot as the temple site. Builders soon discovered that the chosen site was swampy with numerous underground streams. Young was consulted on moving the site, but he remained firm in the idea that this was the site for the temple. To deal with the swampy site, workers created drains to eliminate as much water as possible. Then they brought lava rock to the site and crushed it into a gravel to create a dry foundation for the temple. This led to a new problem: how to crush the rock. Someone suggested using an old cannon. The old cannon was made in France and used by Napoleon during his siege on Moscow. During Napoleon’s hasty retreat, however, the cannon was left behind. It was later dragged to Siberia, then Alaska, and finally ended up at a fort in California. Members of the Mormon Battalion acquired the cannon, had it mounted on wheels, and brought it to Utah. Today, the old cannon is displayed on the St. George temple grounds.}} that the city had acquired. After creating a pulley system, the cannon was used as a pile driver to compact the lava rock and earth and create a firm foundation.

After stabilizing the foundation, work began on the structure. The walls of the temple were built of the red sandstone common to the area and then plastered for a white finish. Local church members worked for over five and a half years to complete the temple. Historians James Allen and Glen Leonard made note of the dedication shown by the pioneers in Southern Utah. The workers opened new rock quarries, cut, hauled and planed timber, and donated one day in ten as tithing labor. Some members donated half their wages to the temple, while others gave food, clothing and other goods to aid those who were working full-time on the building. Women decorated the hallways with handmade rag carpets and produced fringe for the altars and pulpits from Utah-produced silk. At its completion, it contained 1,000,000 board feet (2,000 m3) of lumber, which had been hand-chopped and hauled between 40 and 80 miles (Template:Convert/Dual/srnd). They also used 17,000 tons of volcanic rock and sandstone, hand-cut and hauled by mule teams.

In honor of the temple, the church's April 1877 General Conference was held there. The temple dedication ceremony took place on April 6, 1877. Young presided and Daniel H. Wells, his second counselor, gave the dedicatory prayer. The St. George Temple was the only temple completed while Young was president. Shortly after the dedication and the conference, Young returned to Salt Lake and died on August 29, 1877, at age 76.

Lightning Strike Transformation[]

However, as the temple neared its dedication date, President Young was not satisfied with the way the steeple of the temple looked, as he mentioned to his son Brigham Young, Jr. [2]

Happy to finally have a temple in the West, the Saints enjoyed using the St. George temple as it was until October 1878 when a severe thunderstorm rumbled through St. George. During the storm, lightning struck the tower, completely destroying tower but miraculously damaging no other part of the temple.

For years the tower underwent repairs until the Saints decided to heighten the steeple, consequentially giving the temple the look Brigham Young preferred.

1975 Remodel[]

After remodeling of the interior, the temple was rededicated on November 11, 1975.[3]


Temple presidents are called to oversee all activities performed at the temple. They serve voluntarily, usually for a period of several years. Following is a list of the current and former presidents of the St. George Utah Temple.

  1. Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898): 1877–1884 (LDS Apostle and future president of the church)
  2. John D. T. McAllister (1827-1910): 1884–1893
  3. David Henry Cannon (1838-1924): 1893–1924 - David and his wife Wilhelmina are famous for the St. George Sego Lily Flower story.
  4. Thomas Punter Cottam (1857-1926): 1925–1926 - Former Mayor of St. George
  5. Edward Hunter Snow (1865-1932) 1926–1932
  6. George Frank Whitehead (1863-1961) 1932–1937
  7. Harold Stafford Snow (1897-1972): 1937–1963
  8. Rudger Clawson Atkin (1904-1989): 1963–1970 (Former president of St George and St George East Stakes)
  9. Reed Whipple (1905-1986): 1970–1976 (Former President of Las Vegas Stake and Boulder Dam BSA Council)
  10. Grant M. Bowler (1912-2002) 1976–1981
  11. John M. Russon (1911-2000) 1981–1986
  12. Thomas L. Esplin (1914-1998) 1986–1989
  13. Conrad V Hatch (1922-2012) 1989-1992
  14. J. Thomas Fyans (1918-2008) 1992–1995
  15. Kenneth R. Metcalf (1927-2014): 1995–1998
  16. Malcolm S. Jeppsen 1998–2001
  17. L. David Muir 2001–2004
  18. Harold H. Hiskey 2004–2007
  19. Robert F. Orton 2007–2010
  20. Bruce Clark Hafen (1940): 2010–2013 (President of Rick's College and General Authority Emeritus)
  21. Dale H. Larkin 2013–2016
  22. Randy W. Wilkinson 2016–

LDS Historic Sites[]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) operates a great many church historic site attractions in this area.

  • LDS Church History Map of St George Utah - Interactive Map: Latter-day Saint Places of Interest, St. George and Santa Clara.
  • Encampment Mall Memorial - Tribute to LDS Church Pioneers that settled St. George in 1861-62.
  • Jacob Hamblin Home LDS Church History Site. The Hamblin Home in Santa Clara, Utah, is the place where Jacob Hamblin, Southern Utah Indian Mission president, lived with his family from 1863 to 1868. Because of Hamblin’s service among the American Indians in the region, the home functioned as the headquarters for the mission. Today it is a historic site and is open for public tours. The home and furnishings have been restored to reflect their 1860s appearance.
  • Temple Quarry Trail - Hike St. George): From 1871 to 1877, Latter-day Saints used local materials to build the St. George Utah Temple. They hauled volcanic rock from this nearby hill for the temple’s foundation. Today an out-and-back hiking trail curves around the hill. In total, it is a 2.2-mile hike.
  • Sandstone Quarry Trail (Hike St. George): From 1863 to 1877, Latter-day Saints used local materials to build the St. George Tabernacle and St. George Utah Temple. They quarried sandstone from this nearby hill for the exterior walls of those buildings. Today an out-and-back hiking trail takes visitors to the site of the quarry next to the Red Hill Golf Course in downtown St. George. In total, it is a 0.6-mile hike.
  • Brigham Young Winter Home and Office - LDS Church History Site. From 1870 to 1877, President Brigham Young lived in St. George, Utah, during the winter months. Beginning in 1872, he and members of his family lived in the place that is now called the Brigham Young Winter Home. From this home, he directed the affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today this historic site is open to the public year-round. The home and adjacent office have been restored and furnished to reflect their 1870s appearance. Tours tell about Brigham Young’s family life in St. George and about his role in directing the settlement of southern Utah, including the construction of the St. George Utah Temple.
  • St. George Tabernacle LDS Church History Site. The St. George Tabernacle is a historic meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has functioned as a place for worship and community gatherings since 1869—before its completion in 1876. In addition to Latter-day Saint worship, the tabernacle has also been used on occasion by other faiths.
  • St. George Temple Visitors Center LDS Church History Site. In 1871, President Young announced that a temple would be built in St. George, Utah. Latter-day Saints completed the temple in 1877. The St. George Utah Temple became the first temple to be completed since the Saints left Nauvoo in 1846 and the first where endowments for the dead were performed.
  • Pine Valley Chapel- LDS Church History Site: The Pine Valley Chapel is located in Pine Valley, Utah, about a 45-minute drive north from St. George, Utah. This historic meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was built by settlers of the valley in 1873. Tours daily during summer months.

See Also[]