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PIPE ORGANS OF
TEMPLE SQUARE

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

Click on name of building or on region of photograph below for in-depth information,
or read the overview further down this page before moving on.

RELIEF SOCIETY BUILDING  |   JOSEPH SMITH MEMORIAL BUILDING
CONFERENCE CENTER  |   SALT LAKE TEMPLE  |  SOUTH VISITORS' CENTER
NORTH VISITORS' CENTER  |  TABERNACLE  |  ASSEMBLY HALL


Conference Center Relief Society Building Joseph Smith Memorial Building Salt Lake Temple North Visitors' Center Tabernacle Assembly Hall
This site provides detailed information on the nine pipe organs contained in buildings situated on and around Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

About Temple Square

Often referred to as the "Crown Jewel" of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Temple Square is part of the central campus of the LDS Church (also referred to as the "Mormon Church"), and serves not only as a cultural center for the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, but also as the most popular tourist attraction in the state of Utah.

Most prominent among the six buildings on Temple Square is the Salt Lake Temple, whose neo-Gothic exterior is a widely-recognized symbol of the devotion of the early Mormon pioneers, and whose interior, to the surprise of many, contains no pipe organs. Almost as prominent is the domed, "turtle-back" roof of the Mormon Tabernacle, whose organ and choir are known worldwide, due in large part to the choir's "Music and the Spoken Word" television and radio program, currently in its 70th continuous year of live broadcasting. The Tabernacle organ has also been featured in daily organ recitals for nearly 100 years. Newcomers to Temple Square often confuse the Temple and the Tabernacle (perhaps because the tabernacles of the Old Testament served as temporary temples), and are frequently surprised to learn that the Tabernacle is open to the general public, unlike the Temple. The Assembly Hall, which stands directly south of the Tabernacle, also contains a fine pipe organ and currently serves as the home of the Temple Square Concert Series. None of the other three buildings on Temple Square—the North and South Visitors' Centers and the Temple Annex—contains a pipe organ.

Other Church buildings adjacent to Temple Square which contain pipe organs include the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (formerly the Hotel Utah), the Relief Society Building, and the 21,000-seat Conference Center, which is nearing completion and which stands directly to the north of Temple Square..

Temple Square traces its roots back to July 28, 1847, the day that Brigham Young, having entered the Salt Lake Valley just four days earlier, struck his cane to the ground and said, "Here we shall build a temple to our God." A few days later, Orson Pratt and Henry G. Sherwood began the process of surveying the area and laying out the plans for the city, which were intended to follow the "City of Zion" plat first put forth by Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio. On August 3, 1847, the two men set the meridian for the city at latitude 40° 46' 04" and longitude 111° 54' 00", and this became the "zero point" from which all city streets radiated, as well as the southeast corner of what was then called the "Temple Block." (A sandstone marker was put in place in August of 1855 to mark the meridian. It was removed in August 1989 and replaced with a duplicate marker. The original is now part of the collection of the Museum of Church History and Art.)

Initial plans called for the Temple Block to occupy 40 acres; this was promptly reduced, first to 20 acres and then to its present-day size of 10 acres. Plans also called for a wall enclosing the block, but a shortage of manpower and materials delayed the beginning of its construction until August 3, 1852. The wall was completed on May 23, 1857. Its four sides, each of which measures one-eighth of a mile, completely enclose Temple Square, except for gates in each side. The wall consists of a four-foot tall base of red sandstone supporting a ten-foot tall main section of adobe and capped with a one-foot tall coping of sandstone.

For Further Reading
  • Angus, Mark. Salt Lake City Under Foot, Centennial Edition (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1996) ISBN 1-56085-105-8, pp. 3-13. (Good historical and architectural information; some inaccuracies regarding the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall organs. The definitive collection of walking tours of downtown Salt Lake City.)
  • Black, Susan Easton. The Mormon Temple Square: The Story Behind the Scenery (Las Vegas, NV: KC Publications, 1993) ISBN 0-88714-076-9. (Nice color photos; text gives a good overall picture of the history and function of Temple Square, although it contains numerous inaccuracies regarding the musical instruments on the Square.)
  • Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord, Rev. ed. (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1976) ISBN 0-87747-112-6, pp. 216-222. (The classic work on the history and function of the Salt Lake Temple; contains an interesting chapter on the history and construction of the other buildings on Temple Square, with an updated version in the book's appendix.)
Acknowledgements

The author wishes to thank to the following individuals:
  • Jim Harland, organ aficionado, for taking most of the digital photographs featured on this site
  • John Longhurst and Clay Christiansen, Tabernacle Organists, for their helpful comments and suggestions
  • Robert Poll and Lamont Anderson, Tabernacle Organ Technicians, for supplying information and facilitating photography of the many instruments


This site is maintained by Richard Elliott, who is solely responsible for its content.
This is not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
©2000 Richard Elliott
(This page was last updated on 20 December 2007 )

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