Temple Hill features fifth constructed temple for saints

The Manti Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sits majestically atop Temple Hill, overlooking Manti City. Brigham Young announced the decision to build the temple June 25, 1875, and it was dedicated for use in May 1888. It was the fifth temple to be constructed and is especially picturesque when lit at night.

The Manti Temple was the fifth constructed temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Located in the city of Manti, it was the third temple built by the saints west of the Mississippi River, after the church member’s trek westward seeking safety from persecution.

The temple was designed by William Harrison Folsom, who moved to Manti while the temple was under construction. The temple dominates the Sanpete Valley, and can be seen for many miles, especially at night when lit.

Like all other Church temples, only church members in good standing may enter. It is one of only two Church temples in the world where live actors are used in the endowment ceremonies; all other temples use films in the presentation of the endowment. The other is the Salt Lake Temple.

The Salt Lake City Temple had been announced in 1847 and construction was underway when Brigham Young considered the need for additional temples. The decision to build a temple in Manti was announced June 25, 1875, by Brigham Young.

On the morning of the site dedication April 25, 1877, Brigham Young confided to Warren S. Snow that Temple Hill was the spot where Book of Mormon Prophet Moroni dedicated the land for a temple site.

The Manti Temple was built, along with the St. George and Logan temples, to satisfy the church’s immediate need for these structures. The site for the temple was the Manti Stone Quarry, a large hill immediately northeast of town.

Early Mormon settlers in the area had prophesied that this would be the site of a temple. When Brigham Young announced the building of the temple, he also announced that the 27-acre plot would then be known as “Temple Hill.”

The Manti Stone Quarry, then named Temple Hill, was a rattlesnake-infested site, where the first inhabitants had used dugouts for shelter on the sides of the hill. The quarry’s stone, Manti oolite, is the same cream-colored stone used for the temple exterior.

The temple design is castellated style having influences of Gothic Revival, French Renaissance Revival, French Second Empire and colonial architecture. There is no Angel Moroni atop this temple.

Open-center spiral staircases wind up each of the 179-foot towers of the Manti Utah Temple. The dramatic stairways are an engineering marvel of the Mormon pioneers. The temple has 100,373 square feet of floor space, eight sealing rooms, four ordinance rooms and a Celestial room.

The Manti Temple is the oldest temple retaining original mural paintings on the walls of its progressive-style ordinance rooms: Creation Room, Garden Room, World Room, Terrestrial Room (no murals), and Celestial Room (no murals).

The temple was completed in 1888, and a private dedication was held May 17, 1888, with a prayer written by Wilford Woodruff. Three public dedications were held May 21–23, 1888, and were directed by Lorenzo Snow.

The Salt Lake City Temple was not finished until five years later in 1893.

Renovations

Over the years, the Manti Temple has undergone various remodeling and renovations. Construction of a great stone stairway leading up the hill to the west temple doors began in 1907. In 1935, the temple was fully lit at night for the first time.

In 1940, the stone stairs were removed and work began to beautify the grounds. Between 1944 and 1945 the annex, chapel, kitchen, Garden Room and men’s and women’s areas were remodeled.

There was once a tunnel beneath the east tower of the temple through which wagons and cars could pass. It was once said the temple was the only one people could go through without a recommend. The tunnel was closed off in the 1960s.

In 1981, church officials decided the interior of the temple needed extensive remodeling, which renovation took four years to complete.

The beautiful murals and original furniture were restored, offices were enlarged and remodeled, a separate door was made to the baptistery, water and weather damage was repaired, an elevator was installed, three sealing rooms were added, a nursery, dressing rooms were improved and the pioneer craftsmanship and artwork was restored to their former glory among many other projects.

In June 1985, the Manti Utah Temple was formally rededicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley. The three-day open house was attended by 40,308 visitors. Exterior preservation efforts have also occurred since that time.