Standing majestically on a hill on the north end of the city, the Manti Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an unforgettable sight, especially at night when all the lights are on and it seems to glow.
Admired for the beautiful design and craftsmanship, the wonderful example of pioneer architecture recalls the artistic sensitivity, technical skill and religious devotion of the early settlers.
Long before the temple was built, the hill where it stands was the center for much of the history of the area. When the first families were sent to the Sanpete Valley by President Brigham Young, arriving in November 1849, they sought shelter in dugouts on the side of the hill from the bitter winter storms.
The settlers found layers of oolite stone, which was later used for the building of the temple and many other structures throughout the valley. The stone was also used in areas all across the U.S.
A temple in Manti had been discussed as early as 1854, but it was not until April 25, 1877, just three months before his death, that President Young formally dedicated the site.
Settlers in the valley and surrounding areas worked, sacrificed and gave freely of time and labor for the 11 years of temple construction. Much of the cost had to be paid from local contributions.
Volunteer labor, cash, lumber, meats, butter, wheat, cloth, quilts, tools and many other items were accepted as donations. Eggs laid on Sunday were called “Temple Eggs” and were donated to the temple storehouse.
By March 3, 1879, less than two years after the ground was dedicated, $117,406.29 had been received in “Sunday Donations,” with an additional $4,889.74 from monthly donations of $.50. This was at a time when money was scarce and people lived in humble circumstances.
Preparation of the temple site took two years of labor with horse-drawn scrapers and dynamite. William H. Folsom, a Salt Lake City architect, moved to Manti to supervise construction. Canute Peterson, a Danish convert, supervised the raising of funds.
Many of the workmen were artisans and craftsmen who brought with them excellent skills learned in Europe. Most building materials were obtained locally, although some fine hardwood for the interior was imported from the east.
Buttressed walls and battlements show the influence of the Gothic Revival. The stone walls were built three feet thick at the base and the elegant towers recall the French Second Empire style.
The taller east tower rises 179 feet above the ground. Workmanship throughout is superb and two circular stairways inside the towers rise 90 feet in graceful spirals without central supports.
Unlike most Church temples, there is no Angel Moroni on the Manti Temple spires. The only time anyone has seen an angel up there is during the Mormon Miracle Pageant and that one is live.
Murals in the rooms were painted by well-known LDS artists CCA Christensen, Dan Weggeland, John Hafen, JB Fairbanks, Minerva Teichert and John Shepherd.
Thousands attended the temple dedication in May 1888. In almost continual use since that time, the temple was closed for renovation in the fall of 1981 and rededicated in June 1985. During the April 2019 Church General Conference it was announced that the Manti Temple would be renovated in coming years.
Originally planned with terraces, the temple grounds were landscaped in 1907, when lawns, trees and shrubs were planted. The beautiful gardens form the setting for the Mormon Miracle Pageant.
Recognized as one of the best examples of pioneer architecture in the west, the Manti Temple is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The temple remains as an impressive monument to the courage, endurance and faith of the early settlers.