The Old Testament contains the following promise: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers. …” (Malachi 4:6).
This prophecy is fulfilled in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which bridge the past to the present and the future. In temples throughout the world, sacred ordinances that bind families together forever are performed, and patrons learn more about their divine nature and destiny.
There is a special sense of that connection to generations passed in the Provo City Center Temple. Latter-day Saints have gathered on the land where the temple stands to worship since the 1850s, first in a meetinghouse, then in the Provo Tabernacle and now in the temple.
The temple has risen from the ashes of the Provo Tabernacle, which was burned by a fire in 2010. The architecture and design motifs of the new building pay homage to the tabernacle’s legacy. From the hinges on the doors to the intricacies of the woodwork, the temple gives visitors a glimpse of a time long passed.
"You'll see beautiful chandeliers. You'll see beautiful art, ... millwork and furniture and carpets and decorations of all kinds," Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department told LDS Church News. "... And it is in a way a memorial to the past, but now we will look forward to the future, its function and use as a temple."
The temple, the LDS Church's 150th, will be dedicated March 20.
In the weeks leading up to the Jan. 15 start of the Provo City Center Temple’s public open house, thousands toured the temple during designated tours for LDS Church general authorities, local missionaries and those they are teaching, and other special guests, including leaders of other faiths, state and local officials, and heads of prominent local business and educational organizations. The number of open house attendees is expected to be unusually high due to the historic nature of the building, its past as site of religious and community events, and the longer-than-normal nine-week open house. More than 600,000 free tickets have already been reserved for the event.
Five theaters were constructed in the underground parking area specifically for the open house. Three of the theaters hold more than 150 people. Featuring large-screen monitors, the heated theaters will be removed following the open house.
The nine-minute film shown before the temple tour is different from films shown at previous temple open houses. Rather than highlighting the history of the LDS Church in the area, the video focuses on the purpose of the temple and three themes: Jesus Christ is our Savior, families can be eternal and the temple is a place where sacred ordinances are performed.
The phrase "Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord" is found in three different places on the temple. One inscription is in the stonework in the parking garage, above the main entrance. It can also be found in the stained-glass window over the south street-level entrance as well as over the temple’s east-facing doors — formerly the main entrance to the Provo Tabernacle but now an emergency exit.
The Provo City Center Temple is the only temple in the world with a main entrance located underground.
Recurring features in the temple include late 19th-century West Lake and Gothic designs and the motif of the columbine flower. The columbine grows throughout the Rocky Mountains and the native, hearty flower would have been found in the mountains around Utah County when the Mormon settlers arrived.
The Provo City Center Temple designers tried to capture what the temple might have looked like had it been built in the late 19th century. The details reflect the spirit and heritage of the pioneers.
The large decorative hinges, doorplates and door handles are all typical of the time period.
The temple features an extensive display of wood, mostly mahogany, including wood floors, arches, door frames, moldings, railings and banisters.
All four of the Provo Tabernacle’s spiral staircases in the turrets have been retained and restored. The two west-side staircases are only used for emergency access. The staircases on the east side are used by temple patrons as they move from ground-level rooms to the upper level.
The baptismal font in the Provo City Center Temple has an elliptical shape. The elliptical font design is rare because it is complex to build.
Mormon Newsroom reported that the rose gold granite found in the baptistry came from India.
During the early stages of excavation work on the tabernacle/temple grounds in 2012, workers discovered what Mormon Newsroom called “the earliest known baptistry of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” believed to have been built around 1875.
"This was hallowed ground to them (Mormon pioneers)," Richard Talbot, director of the Office of Public Archeology at Brigham Young University said in 2012 following the discovery of the baptistry. "It was the first place the Saints could be baptized in a real font rather than in a cold river or lake."
The temple baptistry will be used to perform baptisms "for those who have passed on without the ordinance of baptism." LDS Church doctrine teaches that "a departed soul in the afterlife is completely free to accept or reject such a baptism — the offering is freely given and must be freely received. The ordinance does not force deceased persons to become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or 'Mormons,' nor does the church list deceased persons as members of the Church," according to Mormon Newsroom.
The artwork in the chapel includes two large paintings. They are reprints from the Cardston Alberta Temple, which was dedicated in 1923. The Provo Tabernacle was dedicated in 1898, putting the design of the two buildings in approximately the same time period.
The chapel includes wood benches that harken to the benches in the Provo Tabernacle. The benches in the temple have padding for added comfort.
Those familiar with the tabernacle may also recognize the deep windowsills throughout the new temple, a feature replicated from the windowsills from the old tabernacle, where some children would sit during meetings.
A 4-inch-high, hand-carved piece of the original tabernacle pulpit is now in the temple's chapel. The tabernacle’s pulpit was removable and had been moved for a musical performance when the fire occurred in late December 2010.
In temple instruction rooms, patrons are "taught about the purpose of life, the mission and Atonement of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father's plan for his children," according to LDS.org.
There are three instruction rooms in the temple. Patrons will begin in one of two ground-level rooms that both portray aspects of the creation of the world. Both of the rooms include murals, which were painted by teams led by BYU alumni Robert Marshall and James Christensen.
Marshall is the former chair of the BYU Department of Art. Illness necessitated that Marshall to complete his paintings from a wheelchair. Much of his work was completed in the LDS Motion Picture Studio. Temple instruction rooms typically reflect local landscapes, and Marshall's mural is no exception.
Christensen, who worked as a BYU faculty member from 1976 to 1997, is best known for his fantasy artwork.
The third instruction room features Gothic arches and stained glass reflective of the time period. Images of beehives and scriptures can be found in the stained glass windows, paying tribute to the pioneer heritage of the building.
There are nearly 500 temple marriages already scheduled for the Provo City Center Temple, which will be dedicated on March 20 and open the next day.
In the sealing rooms of the temple, "a husband and wife are sealed to one another for eternity. A sealing performed in the temple continues forever if the husband and wife are faithful to the covenants they make," according to LDS.org.
The temple has five sealing rooms, but two of them seat just six people. Temple patrons will use these smaller sealing rooms to perform sealings for ancestors who died without receiving this ordinance.
Two medium-size sealing rooms have a maximum occupancy of 35, while the temple's large sealing room has a maximum occupancy of 53 to accommodate wedding gatherings.
The temple's celestial room is located in the center of the temple, under the central spire or cupola. A stained-glass ceiling piece allows supplemental natural light to enter the room.
While visitors to the Provo City Center Temple may recognize familiar reprints among the artwork, they will also see 19 original paintings.
Provo native Michael Coleman and his sons Nicholas and Morgan painted a dozen of these original works.
BYU graduate Elspeth Young also made a contribution to the temple's artwork with a painting of Mary Wanless, a pioneer girl who faced great adversity. In Young's painting, Wanless is shown collecting edible plants and berries. This would have been part of Wanless' responsibilities along the trail. If you look closely, you may even spot the columbine flower within the painting.
Stained glass in the ceiling of the bride's room allows natural light to come in through a garden box on the plaza.
The stenciling on the wallboard in the bride's room is based on stenciling found in the tabernacle walls. In an on-site exhibit, open house visitors can see a piece of the original tabernacle plaster that inspired the bride's room stenciling.
Inside the ground-level entrance of the Provo City Center Temple, patrons will see a large stained-glass piece behind the reception desk that portrays the Savior as a shepherd.
The stained glass is one of three pieces that originally appeared in a Presbyterian church in New York approximately 120 years ago. A church member discovered and purchased the pieces, then damaged and dirty. The donated pieces were cleaned, repaired and restored, with the one used in the Provo City Center Temple. The other two pieces are being considered for placement in future temples.