SALT LAKE CITY – As we watch the progress of the Salt Lake Temple renovation, one company has an exhibit of art and artifacts that takes us back in time to the original construction and dedication.
The Salt Lake Temple became the symbol of a faith even during its original construction. Caroline Parry is the curator of "Remembering the Salt Lake Temple: A Celebratory Exhibit" at Anthony's Fine Art. It marks the creation of the sixth temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with photographs, artifacts and memorabilia from the 19th century.
"This was their grand monument," she said. "This was their testimony."
She showed KSL-TV the artistry of one personal item – an intricately-etched pocket watch – that is an example of the workmanship that went into this temple.
"This watch was done by one of the stonecutters and metal workers… and even just the care that he put into his own watch, with his name inside, 'Joseph Brigham Clark,' just a little evidence of the care that was put into the temple," Parry said.
Historian Ron Fox brought together many of the photographs, which Parry said most people have never seen.
They tell the fascinating story of cutting the granite from the mountains, oxen pulling carts to bring it to the site and marking each stone with an "X" or two or three, so that it would be placed in specific areas on the temple.
Then there are the photographs of the workers on the scaffolding, and a beautiful image of the Assembly Hall from a temple spire.
"The workers on the temple, they gave their heart and soul. Just hearing about my ancestor, John Parry, who was a stone cutter, just how long it took him and what he did and how he put everything into it," said Parry.
The building of the temple attracted attention far outside the Utah Territory. Even Union Pacific advertised travel to Salt Lake to see it.
Being a tourist during construction meant that you could get a Salt Lake Temple Tower ticket and climb up to the top to get a bird's eye view of the city.
Interior photographs show the artistry of the pioneers with the stunning spiral staircase and carved bannisters and chandeliers and stained-glass windows from Tiffany and Company.
Dedicated in 1893, the temple took 40 years to complete. There were 41 dedicatory sessions over a two-week period with 75,000 people attending.
This exhibit shows the scaffolding on the towers then that remind us of today's huge renovation project. From the beginning it was unique as a statement of faith, vision and determination.
"Remembering the Salt Lake Temple" exhibit will be at Anthony's Fine Art in downtown Salt Lake City at 401 East 200 South through May 31, daily except Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is free to the public.