Interior Features

Don F. Colvin, “Interior Features,” in Nauvoo Temple: A Story of Faith (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2002), 179–232.

Chapter 8Evidence concerning the building’s interior comes from a few architectural drawings, eyewitness descriptions, archeological evidence, and lists of materials in account books. Other than the Henry Lewis sketch of the baptismal font (Figure 4.1), there are no artist’s sketches or photographs of the temple’s interior available for analysis.

Over the years uncertainty has existed regarding the extent of completion in various interior sections of the temple. Careful examination of each floor level and section of the building, along with consideration of all available evidence, will shed some light on this issue.

The Basement Story Work on the original basement excavation started in the fall of 1840. It was probably done by pick and shovel along with teams of oxen and scrapers to drag out the earth. Archaeological excavation shows that the cut into the earth was nearly vertical and that foundation or basement walls were laid against it except for a 30-foot space on the south side of the building, which is thought to “have been where the excavated earth was dragged or otherwise removed from the basement" [1] (see Figure 9.2).


Basement floor planA letter from the Twelve Apostles to all Church members explained that “upon each side of the font there will be a suite of rooms fitted up for the washings." [2] Lyman O. Littlefield, a correspondent for the New-York Messenger, wrote that the basement “is divided off into thirteen rooms, the one in the centre is one hundred feet in length from east to west.” [3] There were six rooms along each side of the large main central room. Extending out from the walls and dividing the side rooms from each other were thick stone partitions that varied from 19 to 23 inches in thickness. [4] These heavy partitions provided additional strength to the outside walls and added support for floors above the basement. “The interior super structure was supported by 12 piers, 6 on each side, spaced at 15 foot intervals, center to center.” Each heavy stone “pier was 4 feet square, built on a subpier 8 feet square and approximately 4 feet deep.” [5] These piers provided the main support for beams, columns, and floors above the basement. They ran along each side of the large main room and had stone partitions running between them that separated the side rooms from the main hall. These side rooms were each 18 feet 6 inches wide but varied considerably in length. The last rooms on the west were open, lacking partitions separating them from the main hall (see Figures 8.1 and 8.2). The central room was 40 feet wide by 100 feet long. [6] Additional temporary rooms may have been curtained off on the east end of this main hall to provide more space for patrons changing clothes to participate in baptisms. [7]

On the west end of the basement was the vestibule area. It was separated from the main hall by a 3-foot-thick stone wall that, except for two 6-foot-wide passageway exits, extended the full width of the basement. This heavy vestibule partition wall continued above the basement, through the first and second stories to the top of the stone walls. It provided stability to the building and direct support for the attic and steeple.

Access to the basement was through the stairwells and vestibule on the west end. It is logical to consider that another entrance may have been constructed on the east end or north side of the building, but there is no record of any kind to indicate that such existed.

The vestibule area was taken up by one large room or area about 16 or 17 feet wide by 30 to 32 feet long. From all available evidence, this area was walled off by a wooden partition with no doors or access into it. [8] This area seems never to have been developed or utilized. On each corner of the west end were stairwells with stairs providing access to each level of the building. “The stairwells were not true circles, as expected, but each was 16 feet east to west and 17 feet north to south. Rather than their perimeters being a continuous curve, there was a flattened space on each of the four sides, one of which was the entrance to the passageway” [9] (see Figures 8.1 and 8.2). These stairwells at their base opened toward the center of the vestibule area into a 6-foot-wide open hallway or passageway that then led east into the large main basement room. The entire vestibule area and stairwells can be seen in Figure 8.1.

All rooms of the basement were used extensively. In the baptismal font—both the earlier wooden and later stone font—thousands of ordinances were performed. Rooms on the sides were used as dressing rooms for patrons utilizing the font. Additional rooms were used by clerks appointed to keep records of all ordinances performed. Others were no doubt used for confirmation ordinances. The open side rooms on the north and south sides may have been used by the recording clerks or as a reception area for patrons waiting their turn to participate in the ordinances. There is no record available to indicate that any parts of the endowment ordinances were conducted in this part of the building.


Basement floor planThe total inner dimensions of the basement area were the same as those of the first and second stories above. All are found to be 80 feet wide by 120 feet in length. [10] By adding the breadth of the 40- foot-wide main room in the basement plus a room on each side of 18 feet 6 inches, along with stone partitions on each side of 18 inches, we come to an overall width of 80 feet. The main hall was 100 feet long and had on its west end a 3-foot-thick wall, and beyond this the vestibule and stair wells were 16 or 17 feet wide. Adding these together, we come to a total interior length of 120 feet. The overall layout of the basement story floor plan can be seen in Figure 8.1.

The walls of the building in the basement area were either 4 feet 5 inches or 5 feet in thickness (see Figure 9.2). [11] They were composed of large irregular blocks of stone laid directly on the clay floor of the excavation, without footings, and cemented together with lime mortar. [12] The total outside dimensions in this area could very likely have been 90 feet wide by 130 feet in length. [13]


The sides and ends of the basement floor level were 5 or more feet below ground level. [14] Excavation of the temple site revealed that in the center of the basement where the baptismal font was located, the floor level was deeper. Here it ranged from 3 feet 3 inches to 4 feet 2 inches below the level of the outside walls (see Figure 9.1). It is not certain when this change of depth in the basement was implemented; it may have been done partially or even totally as the wooden font was constructed. Available evidence, however, leans in favor of this change being done at a later date. [15] Without question, the increased depth added to the basement floor level was done to accommodate the need for more headroom above the font. The wooden font was 7 feet high. [16] Without this change, headroom would have been at most only 5 feet from the rim of the font to the ceiling. [17] The stone font, which stood either 7 feet 7 inches or 8 feet high, would have had even more severe problems. [18] Without this change, headroom of the stone font would have been at most only 4 feet above the rim of the font. The entire basement area was scooped out to accommodate those working in the font and was inclined down to the center. Rooms on the sides were affected less than the main room. They were sloped 4 to 6 inches down from the outside wall to the inner partition wall. The large interior room was sloped down from 3 feet 3 inches on each end and 2 feet 9 inches on each side to the font at the center of the room. These grade levels can be examined by study of Figure 9.1. Steps were placed at the entrances of side rooms to lessen the slope of the grade on each side of the main room, as can be noted in Figure 8.2. Figure 9.3 shows how these steps were constructed. The problem of inadequate headroom may have been why Truman O. Angell felt that the temple committee had “much botched” some aspects of the basement area. [19] The committee had the walls in place in April before they made a decision in July to build the font. Since it was then impractical to start over, they must have opted to incline the floor to pick up additional height.

The Baptismal Font

Dominating the central hall of the basement was the baptismal font. It was placed beneath ground level by direct command of the Lord “to be immersed in the water and come forth out of the water is in the likeness of the resurrection of the dead in coming forth out of their graves. . . . Consequently, the baptismal font was instituted as a similitude of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble, to show forth the living and the dead, and that all things may have their likeness” (D&C 128:12–13; see also Rom. 6:3–5).

There were really two fonts used in the temple, the original wooden one and its replacement, a permanent font made of stone. Both were located in the same spot. Joseph Smith provided a detailed description of this temporary wooden font:

The baptismal font is situated in the center of the basement room, under the main hall of the Temple; it is constructed of pine timber, and put together of staves tongued and grooved, oval shaped, sixteen feet long east and west, and twelve feet wide, seven feet high from the foundation, the basin four feet deep, the moulding of the cap and base are formed of beautiful carved work in antique style. The sides are finished with panel work. A flight of stairs in the north and south sides lead up and down into the basin, guarded by side railing.

The font stands upon twelve oxen, four on each side, and two at each end, their heads, shoulders, and fore legs projecting out from under the font; they are carved out of pine plank, glued together, and copied after the most beautiful five-year-old steer that could be found in the country, and they are an excellent striking likeness of the original; the horns were formed after the most perfect horn that could be procured.

The font was enclosed by a temporary frame building sided up with split oak clapboards, with a roof of the same material, and was so low that the timbers of the first story were laid above it. [20]

An observer pointed out that the carved wooden oxen were “so perfectly cut out of timber,” and looked so similar as to cause visitors “to look with surprize, resembling the living animal." [21] Another, commenting on the joining work, said that it was done with “a fidelity and perfection of detail difficult to surpass." [22] The oxen “were painted as white as snow." [23] It is reported that panels on the sides under the surface of the basin had “various scenes, handsomely painted." [24]

Brick Floor PlanThough the decision to replace the wooden font was made during the winter of 1843, it was not until 15 January 1845 that a formal announcement was made to members of the Church. They were then informed that “as soon as the stone cutters get through with the cutting of the stone for the walls of the Temple, they will immediately proceed to cut the stone for and erect a font of hewn stone." [25] Stonecutters and carvers worked steadily, and by the end of June, Brigham Young was able to announce that “the new stone font is mostly cut.” At 4 p.m. on 27 June “the first stone was laid,” and it was expected that “in about five or six weeks . . . the font will be all finished." [26] President Young declared in July 1845: “We have taken down the wooden fount that was built.” He went on to explain that Joseph Smith had said to him, “We will build a wooden font to serve the present necessity.” It is also evident that some very real problems had developed with this temporary font in trying to keep it clean. As President Young explained, “we will have a fount that will not stink and keep us all the while cleansing it out." [27] On 20 August it was observed that the new font was “in an advanced state of completion." [28]

Brick FloorVisitors viewing the stone font might conclude that the stone oxen supported the font basin resting upon their backs, but this was not the case (see Figure 9.4). The stone basin “rested on a foundation of its own, composed of the heavy blocks of stone closely joined together and fashioned in the form of a circle. The oxen were not fully developed but resting on their forefeet, the middle of their bodies was firmly cemented to that circular foundation and thus the basin seemed to rest on their backs." [29] The oxen were further secured in position by having their front feet cemented in place by “Roman cement." [30]

The architectural drawings of William Weeks indicate that the stone font was designed to stand upon an oval-shaped stone base 12 feet long by 8 feet wide. [31] There is, however, substantial evidence to indicate that changes were made during construction to increase the base size by 3 feet in each direction to dimensions of 15 feet long by 11½ feet wide. [32] Following these proportions, the stone font basin above this base had an outside dimension of 18 feet 5½ inches by 14 feet 3½ inches (see Figure 12.3). The depth of the font basin is difficult to determine. It could have been 3 feet 7 inches deep, as indicated by the architect’s drawings. This is a shallow basin and if the width and length were altered, then it is very possible that some depth may have been added in the stone basin. The overall height of the font was 7 feet 7 inches. [33] It could have been even taller if changes were added. A circular iron railing around the font added beauty and served the purpose of keeping the curious away from the oxen and font itself. [34]

Access to the font was provided by “a flight of stone steps with iron railing on each side [that] led up to the font and a similar flight on the other side descended therefrom" [35] (see the Henry Lewis Sketch of the font in Figure 5.2, as well as the reconstruction drawings, Figure 12.4). Littlefield explained that “the fount will be entered by a flight of steps in an arch form at each end." [36] In contrast to the earlier wooden font, the stone replacement had its stairs located on the east and west ends of the oval basin. [37] Each of the stone steps leading up to the font had a 9-inch rise with an 11-inch tread. [38] Remains of these steps were found during the archaeological excavation and can be examined in Figure 9.6. One end piece of a stair tread contained two sockets that showed a baluster spacing of 5½ inches. [39] The steps down into the font were carved into the bowl itself on both ends of the stone basin. They consisted of three steps on each end, having a 10-inch rise for each step with an 8-inch tread (see Figures 4.3 and 12.4).

The basement level where the font stood, as well as the area close around it, was level. “To the east and west of the font the slope rises only 6 inches in the first 10 feet presumably to the bottom of the font stairs, and then goes up more steeply to reach a level of 2.9 feet above the center to the west, at the vestibule wall, and 3.3 feet at the east wall." [40]

The oxen were each carved from solid blocks of stone. [41] William W. Player was called upon to supervise the construction of the font, and a master stone carver (as yet unidentified) was engaged to guide the creative hands of workers carving the oxen. The challenge of the stone carvers was to create from solid blocks of stone twelve identical oxen about the size of living natural animals and to duplicate the wooden oxen that preceded them. From the reports of most observers, they were successful in their task.

The editor of the Hancock Eagle, somewhat startled when first viewing the baptismal font, declared that "the beholder is lost in wonder at the magnitude of the design and the extraordinary amount of labor that must have been expended in the direction of the work." [42] Upon viewing the work, Charles Lanman described the "Baptismal Font, supported by twelve oxen, large as life, the whole executed in solid stone." [43] Emily Austin described the "oxen of white lime stone, very natural, and twelve in number, all perfectly executed, so that the veins in the ears and nose were plainly seen. The horns were perfectly natural, with small wrinkles at the bottom." [44] According to the Lewis sketch and other descriptions, there were four oxen on each side of the font and two at each end. [45] Another observer explained that the oxen “were well executed and with their bright eyes of glass and well formed ears, looked exceedingly life like and altogether presented a very handsome appearance." [46] The "oxen [had] tin horns and tin ears." [47] The ends of the horns were tipped with a metal resembling gold. [48] There were negative reports and critical observations, but most observers were pleased with the oxen and stone baptismal font.

It was decided on 15 March 1845 to “build a drain for the font." [49] Evidence confirming the existence of this drain was uncovered during the archeological excavation (see Figure 9.8). They found that “the drain was constructed of large slabs of stone, laid without mortar, to make a channel roughly 12 inches square. . . . It runs from the east end of the font in a southeasterly direction . . . then under the south wall in the direction of the ravine south of Mulholland Street. . . . The bottom of the drain channel is 9 feet below the existing ground level. . . . When the drain was first uncovered in 1962 a plumber’s flexible rod was able to probe 35 feet to the southeast." [50]

Water Supply

Joseph Smith explained that water for the font “was supplied from a well thirty feet deep in the east end of the basement." [51] The well was apparently dug early in the construction of the temple by Hiram Oaks and Jess McCarrol. Hiram Oaks’s granddaughter described the project: “They had to penetrate through ten feet of solid rock before they struck water. When they struck water, they lost the drill and water spirited up with great force. Grandfather put his hat over the hole until Jess could get a block of wood to stop the water." [52] This deep well with its reliable flow of water seems to have supplied the baptismal font adequately as well as all other needs of the temple. Designated by Nauvoo Restoration as Well B, this traditional well can be viewed much as it existed during 1846 in Figure 9.7. It was lined with stone and probably fitted with a pump to draw water for its various uses.

Water from the well was quite cold, so “arrangements were made to heat the rooms and the water in the baptismal font." [53] When ordinance work was being conducted, priesthood assignments were issued and men “were appointed to see to the fires." [54]

An additional well came to public attention during the occupation of the temple by mob forces in September 1846. A newspaper correspondent reported: “On Saturday, there was quite an excitement in the camp and the city, created by the discovery of a dry well under the floor of the portico of the Temple, about fifteen feet deep, and situated in a room to which there was no entrance except by an opening made in the floor; there were various surmises as to the purpose for which it had been made, but the most reasonable one is, that it had been used as a cistern whilst the temple was being built." [55]

This abandoned shallow well was rediscovered during archaeological excavations of the temple site in 1969. [56] An ordinary stone-lined well that was apparently dry during most of the year, it was walled off and never put to use. When and why it was dug, and for what purpose, remains unanswered. It may have been used as a drainage well to take water from the font before the southeasterly underground drain was built. If this is true, then it may be that this drainage well could not percolate the water away fast enough, and it became necessary to build the permanent drain.

During site excavation a 7-foot-wide square of brick paving was discovered near the east end of the basement (see Figure 8.4). Archaeologists believe that a water tank or boiler stood on this spot. This tank may have been utilized for storing water, or it may have been connected to a water heating device for the font. [57]

The Basement Floor

This area of the temple was not completed until the spring of 1846. Some type of temporary walkway or flooring was likely put in place for patrons utilizing the wooden baptismal font and dressing rooms. If this were not the case, they would have had to walk on the slippery clay floor of the basement, which would have been hazardous and dirty. A reporter who toured the temple in August 1845 found that the basement “floor was not yet paved, which I was informed however would be shortly done." [58] Another observer reported on 29 December 1845 that the basement floor was almost finished. [59] William Mendenhall recorded in his journal that he was laying brick in the temple in late March and early April 1846. [60] His effort may have been to assist in finishing the main floor or laying brick wall bases in side rooms in preparation for the temple’s dedication. An eyewitness who visited the temple shortly after the dedication in May 1846 was pleased “to perceive how much had been accomplished in a month. The appearance of the basement hall has been entirely changed by a laborious use of the trowel.” He described that the “animals” now showed to great advantage “in contact with the tiled floor” that had apparently just been laid. This observer went on to declare that “the basement floor is now considered finished." [61] Charles Lanman, who toured the temple during the summer of 1846, described the font as located “in the basement room, which is paved with brick, and converges to the centre." [62] Also in the summer of 1846, Hiram G. Ferris commented on the basement: “The floor of this room is made of brick and has a gradual descent from the sides and ends [to] the font." [63]

When the temple site was excavated in 1968, considerable evidence was found to confirm that most, if not all, of the basement area had been covered with about two inches of clean sand, and the sand then covered with “specially selected brick, larger than usually found in Nauvoo buildings of the period, and of a uniform red color.” Of some one hundred whole bricks, “over three-fourths of the bricks measured 9 [inches long] by 4¼ [inches wide] and 2_ inches [thick]." [64] The bricks were laid in a herringbone pattern as shown in Figures 8.3 and 8.4. There is strong evidence indicating that the sand layer and red brick paving were put in place between the late fall of 1845 and the dedication in the spring of 1846. [65]


The basement was illuminated by twenty-one windows, eight on each side and five on the east end. [66] Some artists’ sketches and paintings show two more basement windows at the front of the building, one on either side of the entrance steps. Architectural drawings plus photographic evidence in the 1865 Tintype (see Figure 11.3) clearly show that there were no basement windows on the front (west) end of the building. All basement windows were formed in a half circle described to be “about 5 feet high and as many wide." [67] A more accurate identification of the size of these windows, derived from a study of the architectural drawings and daguerreotypes, would be 4 feet 10 inches wide (same as windows in the walls above them) and about 3 feet 11 inches high. They matched the large windows in a direct line above them. A reporter by the name of Hiram Ferris described rooms in the basement, observing: “these small rooms on the sides are lighted by windows in the shape of an oblong semi-circle." [68] These windows were composed of several panes of glass in a fanlike pattern with what seems to be a row of upright window panes at the bottom (see Figure 6.12). “The lower sash probably opened in hopper fashion to ventilate the basement." [69]


It is apparent that some rooms on each side of the basement were fitted with doors. A visitor described these rooms “all with doors from within." [70] Another observer declared that each room “has one door opening into the large, or central room. But the end room [the walled off, enclosed area, under the front vestibule] has neither any visible door or window. It is directly under the entrance." [71]

Overall Extent of Completion

The basement area of the temple was probably used more extensively than any other portion of the building. Baptisms for the dead were conducted here beginning on 21 November 1841. [72] These ordinances took place in the wooden font and later in the stone font. Though the stone font was not totally finished by the winter of 1845–46, it was nevertheless considered usable. Baptisms for the dead were regularly conducted there in December 1845 [73] and continued until ordinance work ceased on 7 February 1846. It was recorded that 15,626 baptisms for the dead were completed in Nauvoo, almost all of which were done in the temple. [74] The font was completely finished prior to the dedication of the building in the spring of 1846. The basement area was used regularly by the police, who held meetings to regulate assignments for guarding the temple and other sites in Nauvoo. [75] During the summer of 1845 it was observed that the basement was temporarily used as a storage area. “Large piles of ornamental carpenter work is heaped in different parts of the room designed for the finishing of different parts of the Temple. Curious devices or emblems are wrought or carved upon many of the different pieces." [76]

Cut BricksExcavation of the temple site revealed that plaster was “found in place on several of the basement piers and partition remains." [77] Prevailing archaeological evidence indicates that the stone walls in the basement were plastered. There is no physical evidence to indicate whether or not these walls were painted. In the winter of 1846 several purchases of white lead, linseed oil, turpentine, and even “shelack” (shellac) were made for the temple. Some of this may have been for the windows, but some may also have been for areas of the basement. This wintertime purchase of paint was probably not used on the first or second stories, since at the time neither story was far enough along in completion. It is also possible that the basement walls were covered with lime whitewash. [78] As previously noted, doors and windows had been finished and used in this area of the building. There is also no question that the stone baptismal font had been finished and used prior to the exodus. No record is found of any permanent seating in basement rooms. It is assumed that benches, chairs, and stools were placed in the rooms or brought in by patrons.

Inside Stone WallSome questions have been raised relative to the completion of the basement floor. The only area of the basement that may have been left unfinished was the floor. Buckingham, who visited the temple in 1847, described the basement as unpaved. [79] His observation is in direct conflict with reports cited above that this area of the temple was paved with brick. Those who excavated the temple site in 1968 reported “it seems safe to conclude that brick paving was planned for the entire basement area, and had probably been laid in most if not all the rooms." [80] It is now evident that when Buckingham visited the building in 1847 the brick paving in existence in 1846 had been carried away. Since the bricks were laid in sand and not set in mortar, they could be removed easily. Because funds were scarce, it is possible that the temple committee had these bricks taken up following the temple's dedication. They may have been sold to purchase badly needed supplies for the western exodus. It is also possible that local citizens appropriated them for construction purposes.

Had the Saints remained in Nauvoo, some additional finer finish may have been added to the basement area. There is, however, clear evidence to indicate that this area of the temple was completed, functional, and heavily utilized. This is confirmed by the report of John Taylor in the summer of 1846, when he declared that “the basement story of the temple is finished." [81]

The First Story

The first story could properly be called the main floor of the temple. It was here that general conferences and other important Church meetings were held. This was also the place where the formal dedication services were conducted.

The Front Vestibule

Entrance from outside the temple was gained by climbing a flight of ten steps. As Littlefield entered the building in 1845, he left this observation: “Now let us examine what is properly called the first story. . . . We enter this at the west end, passing through either of three large open doors or arched pass-ways, each of which is nine feet seven inches wide and twenty one feet high. Passing through these we are standing in a large outer court, forty-three feet by seventeen feet wide." [82] The area from the floor to the ceiling was 25 feet in height, identical to the main interior area of the first story (see Figure 7.1). On each end of this 43-foot-long outer lobby were stairwells, each 17 feet deep and 18 feet 6 inches long. These areas were separated from the open court by stone partition walls. Each wall had doors that opened into the large spiral staircases. Adding together the spacious outer court along with the stairwells on each side (43 feet plus 18½ and 18½) results in a total interior width dimension of 80 feet (see drawing of the first story floor plan and vestibule area, Figure 8.7).

Upon entering the vestibule, one’s attention was quickly drawn to the dedication plaque centered high on the interior wall (see Figure 8.6). It reads the same as its larger duplicate located on the outside of the front attic.

The House of the Lord

Built by

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Commenced April 6, 1841.

Holiness to the Lord

No account has been found to describe the floor of this open exposed vestibule area. There is some evidence and good reason to conclude that it was a stone floor. Temple committee records show entries for flagging stones being produced in large quantity. [83] These flagging stones were likely about 4 inches thick and could have been laid over wooden beams. In this open, exposed area, this flagstone-type flooring would certainly have offered much greater protection from the elements than a wooden floor.

The Spiral Staircases

First StoryEnclosed within the solid stone stairwells “were winding stairs which led from one story to another until the top of the building was reached." [84] These stairs were built of wood in a spiral fashion. Fortunately, five drawings made by the architect have been preserved, furnishing a rather clear picture of these spiral staircases. To design and build such stairs was a significant engineering achievement. The architectural drawings clearly show that each step had a rise of 7" inches. As indicated by the drawings, there were thirteen risers or steps from the basement to the level of the first floor, a total rise of 11 feet 8 inches. The drawings show twenty-seven risers or steps from the first floor level to the first mezzanine, a total rise of 17 feet 1 inch. The heights for each of these areas are consistent with other architectural plans or drawings as well as the photographic evidence available for study. Detailed drawings of the stairs above the first mezzanine are not available. Both spiral staircases were well lighted, especially in the daytime, by the large windows as well as the circular windows located in the corners of the building. The spiral stairs left an open well area 6 feet in diameter at the middle of each spiral stair. [85] This may have been used as a location for a winch and pulley system to aid in getting firewood, coal, and water up to the level of the attic. A large amount of stove coal was purchased, as evidenced by entries found in the Building Committee account books.” This also is supported by the description of George Washington Bean, who explained: “I worked in the outer court of the Temple running a windlass, drawing up the wood and water needed to carry on the endowments." [86] If so used, it was probably the north stairwell that was utilized for this purpose.

Stairs in the southwest stairwell were considered finished and used extensively by patrons who came for their temple ordinances. The stairs on the northwest stairwell were used consistently by workers during construction, but evidence indicates that these stairs had only a rough finish. Joseph Smith III, who visited the temple on several occasions, claimed that “the stairway in the northwest corner was not finished. Rough inch boards [steps] were laid over the risers so that the workmen could pass up and down." [87] Account books indicate that some hardwood was used in finishing the temple. There are purchases for cherry wood, oak, and walnut. [88] Some cherry wood was used for doorsills, but no other indication is given as to where these types of wood were used. [89] It is very possible that some hardwood was utilized in the stairs. Archaeological excavation found in the charred fragments “of the north stairwell, a small piece of walnut, possibly from the steps or handrail." [90]

The Main First-Floor Area

The large assembly hall of the first story was entered by the main entrance on the west end through one of two large doors coming off the outer court. This story was planned to be divided into fifteen rooms. The large room running through the center was 100 feet long from east to west and 50 feet wide. [91] The fourteen rooms on the sides of this main hall (seven on each side) were never permanently partitioned. There is also no record of any division into various-sized rooms by the planned temporary cloth partitions. [92] If such a division were to have taken place, the most common dimension of these rooms would probably have been 15 feet by 15 feet.

The overall dimensions of the first floor are easily determined. Architect’s drawings provide a cross-sectional drawing with an arched central ceiling over the main hall of 40 feet 9 inches (see Figure 7.1). On each side of this arched ceiling there were six support posts 12 inches in diameter, each of which was sheathed with twenty fluted staves, making them into rounded 18-inch-diameter columns. Beyond these support columns on each side of the building was an area 18 feet 6 inches in width (see Figure 8.7). Adding these figures together brings an internal width of 80 feet. Overall internal length of the first story was 120 feet: 100 feet in the main hall plus a 3-foot-thick dividing wall between the main assembly hall and the vestibule plus a 17-foot outer court vestibule or portico area. This area can be examined by study of the first-story floor plan (Figure 8.7).

The permanent wood floor was finished or put in place by New Year’s Day of 1846. [93] No written descriptions of this floor have been provided. There is a possibility that the finished flooring was laid over the top of a rough subfloor, or it may have been only a finished 1- to 2-inch tongue-and-groove floor (1-inch thickness was common in other Nauvoo buildings). Support for the floor was provided by heavy stone columns or piers in the basement (see Figures 9.1 and 9.2). There were six of these 4-foot-square columns on each side of the basement, each set at 19 feet from the outside walls. Over the center of these columns were six heavy timber beams running the whole width of the temple, which were set on 15-foot centers. These heavy 12-inch-diameter pine timbers or beams were anchored or inset 16 inches into the stone walls of the temple (see Figure 7.1). The timbers may have been one long pole or beam 82 to 83 feet long but more likely were sectioned into three pieces, with the middle section being fit into place having a beveled edge, as shown in Jackson’s drawing (see Figure 8.13). These beveled endpieces would likely have been nailed or bolted together by strong boards on one or both sides of the beam at the joint area. Between these timbers, floor joists were placed on 14-inch centers to provide stability and support for the flooring placed upon them. In all likelihood these floor joists were 3-by-12-inch boards, approximately 14 or 15 feet in length. A drawing showing this type of floor joists can be viewed by examination of the fragment showing some of the south stairwell (see Figure 7.10). Billing records also support these measurements.

As the temple neared completion, permanent bench seats were installed in the center hall and along each side. Buckingham reported that in the “grand hall” of the first floor “seats are provided in this hall . . . and they are arranged with backs, which are fitted like the backs to seats in a modern railroad car, so as to allow the spectator to sit and look in either direction, east or west." [94] Another observer reported that the benches in the central hall under the arch were “constructed with backs that turn either way so as to admit of the audience being seated facing either end of the room." [95] One additional witness who toured the building declared: “The benches under the arch face each other in pairs.” He then added: “Those at the sides all face the center." [96] No reliable figures are available on the seating capacity of the first story. Some attendance figures were reported for the October conference of 1845, but these seem to be inflated. [97]

Support ColumnsThe first story of the Nauvoo Temple had “a large arch over its entire length." [98] Supporting this semicylindrical arch and the second floor above were twelve posts of round timber, each 12 inches in diameter. There were six of these posts on each side. The support posts were 24 feet in length rising from the level of the first floor to the bottom of the sleeper under the long timber beams supporting the second floor (see architect’s sketch of this area in Figure 7.1). Where exposed to view, each post was covered to 3½ feet by an ornamental wood-paneled pedestal. Above this pedestal each post was encased by fluted staves, making attractive columns. These round columns, each 18 inches in diameter, rose above the pedestals to the bottom of the first mezzanine.

Wood PanelingAs noted by Tim Maxwell, an architect working on the Nauvoo Temple reconstruction project, “240 tapered staves 11 feet long are listed in the carpentry shop records. Also listed are 330 15-inch-long staves, evidently for carving the capitals. The number 330 is consistent when it is considered that one capital consisting of 30 staves may have been carved as a pattern prior to the 330 in the list. The 20 long staves and 30 short staves, when assembled in circles of the size pieces listed, both perfectly surround a 12 inch center. These dimensions and arrangement also confirm the fluted column and half sun-face capital found in William Weeks’ drawing that in the past was dismissed as only early discarded studies by Weeks." [99]

The columns supported an entablature and cornice running along the inner base of the arch. The entablature, frieze, cornice, soffits, and support columns were all places for special finish. Building records indicate considerable detailed wood carving and ornamentation in these areas. Ceilings on the sides under the mezzanines were flat.

Plans were made to subdivide the whole floor of the main hall by the use of “three great veils of rich crimson drapery." [100] These were to be suspended overhead from the ceiling and lowered into place when the occasion determined such a division. However, no record has been found to indicate that these plans were ever carried out.

The permanent floor was being laid in November 1845, making it possible to construct permanent tiered pulpits. In December Brigham Young, along with other leaders, “went down to the lower room and counseled on the arrangement of the pulpits." [101] On 1 January 1846 leaders found “the floor is laid, the framework of the pulpits and seats for the choir and band are put up; and the work of finishing the room for dedication progresses rapidly." [102] On this same date one year earlier a letter written by W. W. Phelps to William Smith was published in the Times and Seasons. It described features to be constructed in the interior of the temple. “The two great stories will each have two pulpits, one on each end; to accommodate the Melchisedek and Aaronic priesthoods; graded into four rising seats: the first for the president of the elders, and his two counsellors; the second for the president of the high priesthood and his two counsellors; the third for the Melchisedek president and his two counsellors, and the fourth for the president over the whole church, (the first president) and his two counsellors. . . . The Aaronic pulpit at the other end the same." [103]

J. H. Buckingham, who visited the temple a year after its dedication, left this description of the first story interior: “At the east and west end are raised platforms, composed of series of pulpits on steps one above the other. The fronts of these pulpits are semi-circular and are inscribed in gilded letters on the west side: PAP, PPQ, PTQ, PDQ, meaning, as the guide informed us, the uppermost one, President of Aaronic Priesthood; the second, President of the Priests’ Quorum; the third, President of the Teachers’ Quorum; and the fourth and lowest, President of the Deacons’ Quorum. On the east side the pulpits were marked PHP, PSZ, PHQ, and PEQ, and the knowledge of the guide was no better than ours as to what these symbolic letters were intended for." [104] The meaning of this last set of letters is explained in the previous paragraph except for the letters PSZ. They may have stood for President of the Seventy in Zion, but that is only conjecture.

James A. Scott, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who attended the temple dedication on 1 May 1846, recorded the following description: “Inscriptions on the seats of the priesthood. Me P. highest seat PHP, 2nd PSZ, 3rd PHQ, 4th PEQ. A. P. highest seat PAP, 2nd PPQ, 3rd PTQ, 4th PDQ." [105] Scott confirms the PSZ lettering noted by Buckingham but offers no clarification. Further confirmation of the accuracy of this designation is provided by the same lettering being used on the Melchizedek Priesthood Pulpits in the St. George Temple (see note 104). Other descriptions show that each pulpit unit “was graded into four rising seats" [106] and was wide enough “to accommodate three persons each." [107] Each pulpit had its own decorative lettered insignia identifying its occupants.

On the wall in back of the highest pulpit on the east end was “an inscription in large gold letters," [108] which read “THE LORD HAS BEHELD OUR SACRIFICE: COME AFTER US." [109] An observer declared that these “two grand pulpits at the East and West ends gave to the whole an appearance of Oriental Magnificence." [110]

For conference meetings in the fall of 1845, temporary pulpits and seating were in place. At the west end of the large main hall “was constructed a large box for the use of the choir and players on instruments." [111] This may have been the area referred to as the galleries by L. O. Littlefield. Reporting his attendance at the conference, he stated: “I found a seat in the north gallery and had a commanding view of the congregation which spread out itself below and around me. . . . On either side ranged a solid phalanx of seated males, and all were oer-topt with down-gazing auditors that crowed the galleries." [112]

It is possible that temporary galleries or balconies had been constructed to provide additional seating at this conference. If so, these would have been taken down during the following month as the temporary floor was replaced. There is a single reference describing some type of gallery to be constructed on the permanent floor. “The gallery is to consist of different chambers, . . . which are all to be separated by veils, which can be drawn or withdrawn at a moment’s notice." [113] This described gallery may have been included as part of the large choir section that was built. Then again, due to the forced exodus these galleries may never have been constructed. There is no report of galleries being present as the first floor was finished. Another possibility is that for this fall conference temporary galleries were provided above the first floor in the unfinished first mezzanine. This area could have been open on the sides at this time and utilized as galleries to provide additional seating. Further explanation of this possibility is pursued in the next section.

Extent of Completion

The first story of the temple was completed with careful attention to detail and the highest quality of workmanship. It was described as “worthy of the attention of all architects who delight in originality and taste. It has been thronged with visitors from abroad since its completion, and excites the surprise and admiration of every beholder." [114] The vestibule entrance was complete, secured with doors and locks. Inside, the permanent wood floor was laid, and attractive decorated pulpits were in place along with large galleries for the choir and musicians. Visitors found “the inner temple an artistic work in the medium of wood, stone and glass." [115] One observer who visited the building in the fall of 1846 noted “the immense audience chamber . . . with its pews and changing backs, its immense altars and oratories, its gorgeous tapestry and motes in gold and silver, its ponderous chandeliers and innumerable columns and frescoes that elsewhere bewildered the eye with their gorgeous beauty." [116]

Purchase OrderAnother observer commented that “the work is of the best character . . . the carving both in wood and stone evinces great taste and ingenuity." [117] Much of the detailed finish work was completed as the exodus from Nauvoo was under way. Church leaders and many members had already gone west. In spite of this, the temple was pushed to completion. It was an unselfish act of love and devotion to God. Under the circumstances that existed, it is most significant to note the detail, artistry, and quality that was put into the efforts of these builders. Observers entering the main hall found that “the woodwork of the doors and windows was composed of beautifully carved work,” the tops of the door jambs being “ornamented with Corinthian capitals of the most exquisite workmanship!" [118] There was “beautiful vine work,” along with “delicately executed leaf and bud.” Bills for these artistically finished windows and door casings include orders for several pieces of door and window jambs, rails, pilasters, pedestals, capitals, sills, panels, sash, architraves, crown fillets, crown molds, and other items or pieces. [119] These were not simple, plain, or crude frames—they were works of art. Figure 8.10 illustrates the highly decorated woodwork around each window of this main floor. From descriptions and bills of materials it is evident that the same kind of work was put around each doorway as well.

Wooden panels of varying lengths were used as part of a 3-foot-high wainscoting at the base of walls around the entire floor. There were panels under each window, in between windows and in between doors. Illustration of this paneling and wainscoting (under the windows) can be examined by study of Figure 8.9. Bills for this wainscoting furnish valuable insight into the details of this woodwork. An example of one of these bills is as follows:

A Bill of Wainscoting for North and South Sides

24 Pieces 6 feet 11 long x 5½ 1½

24 " 2 " " 3½ 1½

24 Panels 6 " 8 " 1½ 1

86 feet for west End wainscoting.

43 feet of panels x 14 1

43 " of fillet x 3_ 1¼

43 " of crown mold x 1¾ 1 [120]

The arched semicylindrical ceiling over the main hall as well as the flat ceilings on the sides were all plastered and finished. A bill for this work was submitted on 21 February 1846; it included “17,000 lath 600 bushels lime and 150 bushels hair” (see Figure 8.11).

The first floor was predominantly white. Ceilings were plastered white, the stone walls were grayish white, and the woodwork was painted white or a light tan color. A bill of paints for the first floor included “300 lbs. white lead, 10 gallons linseed oil, 10 gallons turpentine, 5 lbs. red lead, 5 lbs. letharge, 2 lbs. English terra cena and 2 lbs. chrome yellow." [121]

First StoryThe woodwork of the columns and cornice area around the bottom of the central arch was also specially finished. Bills of materials call for 205 feet each of crown molds, crown fillet, fascia, architraves, frieze, and other items, along with 214 mutules and mutule caps. [122] This was without question a place of extensive artistic detail.

After the dedication, many of the religious and decorative furnishings were removed from the temple. As noted by one observer, “When finished it was profusely ornamented on the inside, and dedicated by the most solemn services; these over, it was despoiled of its ornaments and abandoned.” He also noted: “The walls within the Temple were bare, the only ornaments being those cut in the wood or stone." [123]

The First Mezzanine Half-Story Recesses on the sides of the arch made it possible to construct a half-story on each side of the building between the first and second floors. The length of the recesses or half-stories was 100 feet. This created two side halls that were long but low and narrow. [124] These 100-foot-long hallways were each 18 feet 6 inches wide and 7 feet high (see architectural drawings, Figure 7.1 and 8.12). It was intended that these areas be divided into seven rooms on each side of the building. Each room was to be lighted by one of the lower round windows. No record has been found to determine if the partitions and rooms were actually constructed. This area would have consisted of a long hallway some 3 to 5 feet wide, along with seven rooms approximately 14 feet square on each side of the building. Some may have been built due to the intent of conducting endowment ordinances at this location. Brigham Young once stated, “In the recesses, on each side of the arch, on the first story, there will be a suit of rooms or ante-chambers. . . . As soon as suitable number of those rooms are completed we shall commence the endowment." [125] Since the endowment ordinances were moved to the main attic area, records are absent on any use of the first mezzanine. Layout of the floor plan for this first mezzanine can be studied by examining Figure 8.12.

There is some possibility that on a temporary basis this mezzanine was used as a gallery overlooking the main hall below, which is supported by the report of one observer who described having “a seat in the north gallery and had a commanding view of the congregation which spread out itself below and around me." [126] If temporary galleries were used here in the fall of 1845, they probably lacked tiered seating. This would mean that most of those seated there would have been unable to see the pulpits. Unfinished at this date, the first mezzanine could have been open on the sides, thus allowing such usage.

The Second Story As interior floors of the temple were under construction, observers could view “range upon range of massive timber,” and one visitor expressed being impressed with “the stupendous height of the ceiling, and the massiveness and quality of the timber." [127] Richard Jackson, a retired Church architect, noted an interesting possible method of construction used in building this floor and other floors of the temple. Jackson also served a Church mission in Nauvoo and has carefully studied the architecture and construction of the Nauvoo Temple. He notes that two very old photographs of the building show

the fifth window from the front on the third floor [second story] not yet having a sill in one and a modified sill in the other. In both it is obvious that the window opening extended down to what would probably have been the floor level, most likely to allow roof and floor framing members to be brought into the building for installation in the middle bay. A gin-pole would have been mounted on the top of the outside wall with a swinging boom-arm with a pulley on the end [see Figure 8.13]. The member would be raised to the level of the third floor [second story] by a horse pulling on a rope through a pulley on the ground. At the floor level, the member would be pulled into the building and unloosed. It would then be picked up with a similar pulley system mounted on top of the intermediate column supports and from there elevated or lowered into the Figure 8.13 desired position in the middle bay. When the work was finished the window opening would have been closed with matching material but the material lines show. [128]

Figure 8.13. Roof and Floor Framing Construction Process. Sketch by Richard Jackson.

Jackson’s observations are sustained by the earliest known daguerreotype of the building (see Figure 8.14), which indicates that this particular window area was indeed open and could easily have been utilized in the manner that he explained. Permanent stone steps in front of the building were not completed until late in the building’s construction. It is most likely that this opening and another like it on the north side were needed for bringing construction materials into the building. It would not be practical to bring everything in through the front entrances. Heavy beams and timbers used in construction would have been too cumbersome to move by hand. The floor of this story was supported by six 12-inch-diameter posts on each side of the building, along with the timbers and joists just like that of the first story.

The second story was designed to be an exact duplicate of the first. It was, however, 20 feet longer than the first story in consequence of running out over the top of the front outer court or vestibule. This additional open space was marked by a stone arch which 41 feet and served as support for the tower. An excellent view of this arch can be seen by examining Figure 11.2. This artist’s sketch has some discrepancies in that it shows no access to the mezzanine levels and has another problem, as cited by Tim Maxwell: “The arch must have been the artists attempt to picture one that had in fact already collapsed at the time of the drawing. The arch pictured is far too thin over the top to have carried the tremendous dead weight and wind loads of a 90-foot-high tower. More likely the arch masonry was 8 to 12 feet deep at the thinnest point over this ." [129]

Roof and Floor FramingThe room of the second story is described by Lanman as being in every particular precisely like that of the first story. [130] It was well lighted by large windows on both sides and both ends of the building. On 20 January 1846 it was announced in the Times and Seasons that “the floor of the second story is laid." [131] After the floor was laid, this hall was used on many occasions. Strong and substantial, this floor supported large crowds of people as they gathered here for the various meetings conducted in this part of the building. Typical of these meetings is the following, as Hosea Stout observed: “Went to the Temple to a public meeting in the Second Story but the congregation was so numerous that it would not contain them." [132] Brigham Young reported that on 24 January he “attended a general meeting of the official members of the church held in the second story of the Temple, for the purpose of arranging the business affairs of the church prior to our exit from this place." [133] Another example of such meetings is the report of Sunday services or a “public” meeting conducted in the second story of the temple on 1 February 1846. [134]

This area of the temple was said to have been “partially finished, having benches and temporary pulpits which could be used in case of necessity." [135] These pulpits and seating were probably the same ones used on the first floor for the October 1845 conference. Some office rooms may have been constructed along the sides of the main hall. Doors for those offices were ready by midsummer 1845, and bills of materials call for locks, hinges, etc. [136] Since they were ready this early, it is likely that some of them were put in place. A reporter from the Illinois Journal wrote that there were “small rooms eight or ten feet square on either side." [137] A description of these rooms and their exact location is uncertain. They may have been on the second floor level or on the level of the second mezzanine half-story. The floor was described as having a rough finish but was reportedly used for dances throughout the winter of 1845–46. [138] The room was also used for other recreation purposes following the exodus of the Mormons from Nauvoo. No record seems to be available describing the plastering or painting of this section of the building. Available evidence leads to the conclusion that this area, though not totally finished, was functionally completed and extensively used. A layout of the second story is found in Figure 8.15.

The Second Mezzanine or Upper Half-Story There is very little information on this area of the temple. It was planned to be identical in size and configuration with the lower mezzanine half-story. The only basic difference between the two was the size of the round windows. Smaller round windows providing illumination to this mezzanine section had a star shape configuration in the window panes (see Figures 6.2 and 7.12). The panes were colored glass or were painted in colors red, white, and blue. [139] From November 1845 through April 1846, heavy emphasis and urgency was given to work on the second story and the completion of the first story. It is therefore very likely that both the lower and upper mezzanine half-stories were only roughed in and never finished. No record has surfaced describing rooms, floors, extent of finish, or usage for this upper mezzanine section of the building. A layout of this second mezzanine and the proposed design of its rooms is found in Figure 8.16. It should be noted that a set of stairs was installed providing access between this mezzanine and the east attic area above it. This is explained in greater detail later in this chapter in the section describing the east main attic of the building.

The Front Attic Section

A boxlike rectangular attic or half-story the width of the stone walls on the west end at the top of the building. This front attic section was 86 to 87 feet long. Extending back from the front, it had a depth of 36 to 37 feet (see Figure 7.2). It was described as being 16½ feet in height. [140]

The inside of this front attic was described as containing “two or three large square rooms." [141] A nearly square room on the south end measured about 27 feet north to south and about 32 feet east to west. Nearly one quarter of this room was taken up by the southwest corner stairwell, as it rose from the basement to this level (see diagram of this floor level, Figure 8.17). The rest of this room was an assembly or waiting room area for those coming to receive their endowments (see note 142 for a justification for this conclusion). [142] In the center of this attic area was “a massive pine frame, from the centre of the roof from which rises the tower." [143] This large supporting timber frame was octagonal in shape and 29 feet in width. On the west side of this framed area between it and the outside wall was a narrow space only 2 or 2½ feet wide (see diagram in Figure 8.17). On the east side between this steeple base and the wall between the two attics was another narrow space of the same width. Open passageways are believed to have led into the interior of this framed tower base area. Here stairs could be accessed leading to the tower sections above. Access could be gained to the large room on the north end and also into the main east attic (see Figure 8.17). On the north end of this front attic was a room known as the “pantry” or “dining room,” identical in size to the south room. It had the same space taken up by a stairwell as the stairs rose to this level in the northwest corner of the building. This room was widely used by Church authorities, construction workers, temple ordinance workers, and patrons to eat and store food. [144] This was an essential accommodation necessitated by nearly round-the-clock temple ordinance work during December 1845, through January and early February 1846.

TempleThe front attic section was well illuminated during daylight hours by eight rectangular windows. Some seating may have been provided in the reception or assembly room, but no reference verifying this has been found. It is also likely that seating and tables were located in the pantry room, but again no information has surfaced to validate this conclusion. There appears to be no documentation as to whether or not this area was finished. However, it is likely that the area was plastered and painted at the same time as the east or main attic. Had it remained unfinished, it would most likely have been noted by observers.

Tower or Steeple Section From the center of the front attic section rose an octagonal tower. Its timber framework was massive, containing posts, beams, braces, and supports (as can be observed by examining of Figures 7.3 and 12.1). Inside the framework of this tower was “a series of steps which were very steep." [145] Climbing up from the attic one could “ascend to the bell room of the steeple, thence to the clock room, at last to the observatory." [146] One who climbed the full height of this stairway described having “to ascend 15 flights of steps to reach the top." [147] This description undoubtedly also included the flights of stairs below the attic level.

Second StoryThe tower consisted of various sections. As the tower rose in height, those sections diminished in width, creating a telescopic effect. The base or pedestal section was 29 feet in diameter. It started on the floor of the attic and rose another 12½ feet above the attic roof. At the roof level on the east side of this octagonal base was a small doorway that provided access to the deck roof over the top of the main east attic. [148] The section above the base or pedestal narrowed to 22 feet in diameter. It was composed of the belfry and, directly above it, the clock section. The belfry had eight openings, each with two louvered Gothic shutters. The openings were about 4 feet wide and 10 feet tall. The louvers of the shutters were painted green. It is not clear as to whether any glass windows were put in the belfry section, but it likely remained open to the air. The belfry housed a large bell.

The clock section was designed to have a clock on the four different faces of the tower. In between each of the clock facings were small windows. No descriptions have been found of this section’s interior. Above the clock section was the observatory, which diminished in size to a diameter of 17 feet. This area had eight windows, and it is likely that these windows had glass in them and could be opened to permit observation. Careful examination of the Chaffin daguerreotype (see Figure 5.4) indicates partially open windows in this section of the tower. It also shows that these had diamond-shaped, leaded glass panes. Rising above the observatory was the dome, said to be diminished in size to about 13 or 14 feet at its base. There are reports of visitors writing their names on the ceiling inside the dome. [149]

There is a bill in the temple billing records calling for 2,225 feet of floor to be used in various sections of the tower and its stairways. [150] The stairs were described by an observer who noted that some of the finishing work was not done, “the inside of this was not entirely finished,” making it possible for visitors “to observe the massive strength of the frame-work, and perceive the solidity and view the durability, with which it was constructed. The bare timbers presented a never-ending system of braces, each supporting the other successively." [151]

The Main East Attic Area

Brigham Young clearly described the layout and dimensions of this area:

The main room of the attic story is eighty-eight feet two inches long and twenty-eight feet eight inches wide. It is arched over, and the arch is divided into six spaces by cross beams to support the roof. There are six small rooms on each side about fourteen feet square. The last one on the east end on each side is a little smaller.

The first room on the south side beginning on the east is occupied by myself, the second by Elder Kimball, the third by Elder’s Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt; the fourth by John Taylor, George A. Smith, Amasa Lyman and John E. Page; the fifth by Joseph Young and Presidents of Seventies; the sixth, a preparation room.

On the north side, the first east room is for Bishop Whitney and the lesser priesthood, the second is for the high council, the third and fourth for President George Miller and the high priests’ quorum, the fifth the elders’ room, and the sixth the female preparation room. [152]

Second Floor PlanRooms on the sides were all numbered, those on the south having odd numbers and those on the north even numbers. [153] These numbered rooms and assignments can be viewed by examining Figure 8.18. Entrance into the main east attic section was gained through a door in the west attic half-story. [154] Its location must have been at the center in the west end of the large central room. This can be visualized by examining Figure 8.18. Another entrance and exit to this attic area was noted by Catherine Lewis. She commented that there were those who entered the attic from the west and then went “out a different way." [155] As the second floor of the temple was under construction (in late December 1845), plans were made to build a stairway into Heber C. Kimball’s room. [156] His journal reports that on 23 December, “A staircase has this day been put up by which we can pass out through Elder Kimball’s room which has been converted into an office for the convenience of transacting business with persons from without." [157] His journal entry for 26 December reports that Sheriff Backenstos came to the temple and was admitted to this office (No. 3) by the back stairs. [158] This back stairway most likely led down from Kimball’s office (Room 3) to the floor of the second mezzanine. From here someone using this access could pass through the south second story mezzanine to the front of the building. One could then go down the stairs in the southwest corner stairwell and exit the building. It is also possible that a temporary construction stairway may have been in place on the outside of the building that was used as an access to the building. Buckingham referred to the large central room of this east attic as the “council chamber,” describing it as a long, low room. [159] The room was designated by William Clayton and Brigham Young as the “main room" [160] and by Heber C. Kimball as the “big hall." [161] No description is available on its height, but it was 28 feet 8 inches wide by 88 feet 2 inches long. [162] This room was well lighted from above during daylight hours by the six skylights located in the deck roof. [163] An additional abundance of light came from the large 20½-foot-wide Gothic-styled window of the east end. [164]

The central hall was “divided into six spaces by [five] cross beams to support the roof." [165] These cross beams and the arch over the council room were held in place by a queen-post truss. [166] The ten posts supporting these trusses (five on each side) were covered with a wood casing, making them into attractive composite columns, described by a reporter from the Illinois Journal as a “double row of Composite columns, of excellent workmanship." [167] There was a door at the main entrance on the west end of the large council room. Each of the twelve side rooms also had a door, each of which was described as having a “massive lock." [168]

Rooms on the sides of this attic diminished in height due to the slope of the roof. Historical reproduction architectural drawings indicate that the outer or back ends of these rooms would have been only 5 feet 8 inches high. This fits well with a report indicating that the ceilings of these rooms were “not sufficiently high near the eaves, for a person of six feet, to stand erect." [169]

Finish and Furnishings

Billing records indicate that this east attic area (and possibly the west attic as well) “was finished by a running baseboard 11½ inches wide and 1¼ inches thick for the main room and was to be six inches by one inch for the small rooms." [170]

Heating the attic was accomplished by wood-burning stoves. While the attic was being painted, two of these stoves were put up in the large council room. [171] Additional stoves were added just prior to the commencement of the endowment ordinances. Heber C. Kimball reported: “John D. Lee and others have been fitting up stoves in the two west rooms, as they will be devoted to washing and Anointing and to heat water." [172] Wood was pulled up to the attic level by a windlass, and men were assigned to keep the fires going. [173]

East Attic RoomFloors were finished by early November 1845. On Saturday, 22 November, “the plasterers [had] finished the attic story of the Temple." [174] Paint was then applied to columns, base boards, door frames, window frames, other woodwork, and possibly the walls. On 26 November “the painters finished painting the attic." [175] Elder Kimball noted that “the painters had got three co[a]ts on. We concluded that would do." [176] Next came borrowed carpets contributed by several Church members for use in the temple. On Saturday, 29 November, they “laid the carpet on the main floor of the attic story and also on several of the small rooms.” [177] Elder Kimball related that “we had carpit in plenty to lay down in all the rooms." [178] The large half-round complex of gothic windows was also finished and decorated. Brigham Young explained, “I fitted up the curtains on the east windows." [179]

After the rooms had been painted and carpeted, Church leaders set about preparing the attic story for administering the temple ordinances. The large central main room was divided by canvas partitions. Heber C. Kimball explained: “We are now putting up petitions [partitions] in the big Hall." [180] “The big Hall is converted into six sepret [separate] rooms for the convenience of the Holy Priesthood, two Large ones and fore small and a Hall pacing through between the small ones, pacing from the west done [down] through the Center, and doers in to each room." [181] These hallways are described by William Clayton: “Beginning from the door at the West end is an all[e]y about 5 feet wide extending to about 3 feet beyond the first Beam of the arch." [182]

Patrons entering the temple to receive their endowment ordinances met at the outside porch or vestibule of the temple. Leaving the vestibule, they entered into a circular stairway located in the southwest corner of the building. They then passed up through a series of winding stairs to the attic story. Here was a sitting, reception, or assembly room where they took off their coats, hats, bonnets, etc. After being seated for a time they were called out and asked to stand before a closed door. This door opened onto the main east attic section of the building. As they passed through this door, they entered a narrow hallway formed by canvas partitions. Walking to the end of this hallway, they met a man who asked the women to enter through a door on the left and the men to pass through one on the right in an opposite direction. Husbands and wives were later brought back together. At the completion of their endowment ordinances they were welcomed into a large, beautifully furnished and decorated room known as the celestial room of the temple. [183]

East Story Ordinance roomA possible organization of these rooms can be seen by viewing Figure 8.19. Two of these rooms were extensively furnished. One of these was the garden room. Heber C. Kimball, along with his son William, had picked up “about 25 or thirty Flower Pots with Ever greens in them to adorn our garden." [184] These evergreens, later referred to as cedar trees, had been kept indoors during the cold weather in various houses throughout the city. They had been collected by Hiram Kimball at his home and were now available for use in decorating the temple.

The eastern one-third of the large central main room (as it was partitioned off) became known as the celestial room of the temple. Dimensions of this area were about 27 by 28 feet. It was described as a “very large and spacious room, perfectly light, all nicely furnished” with “splendid tables and four splendid sofas.” Also placed around the room were chairs and a marble clock. Hung on the walls were mirrors, maps, painted portraits and landscapes. [185] This celestial room area was described by a visitor as “handsomely and even elegantly furnished." [186]

Another significant furnishing was added in early January 1846. This was the new altar located in Brigham Young’s office (Room 1). It was put into use for the first time on 7 January. On this occasion four couples, each in their turn, knelt at this sacred altar. Husbands and wives were sealed to each other for time and for all eternity. “The altar is about two and one-half feet high and two and one-half feet long and about one foot wide, rising from a platform about 8 or 9 inches high and extending out on all sides about a foot, forming a convenient place to kneel upon. The top of the altar and the platform for kneeling upon are covered with cushions of scarlet damask cloth; the sides of the upright part or body of the altar are covered with white linen." [187]

Services in the Attic Story

The large central room as divided by canvas partitions was utilized in providing endowment ordinances to thousands of faithful Church members. The altar in Room 1 was used for numerous sealing ordinances and eternal marriages. There is indication that Rooms 2 and 4 were also used for some sealing ordinances. [188] Side Rooms 11 and 12 were used for thousands of washing and anointing ordinances. Rooms 1 and 3 were also extensively used as offices. The remaining side rooms were used for offices, prayer meetings, and leadership meetings. This attic area was also used for recreational purposes and even as a temporary residence for some leaders and patrons, as explained in chapter 4.

Beginning in December 1845, those previously endowed, known as “the quorum,” met in the attic story of the temple. “Elder B. Young Said this quorum should meet heare evry Sabath and take of the Sacrament." [189] This announcement was greeted with feelings of great joy. Those attending noted: “Great solemnity rested upon the brethren and sisters; great union in our meeting." [190] As endowment ordinances were given to others over the next few weeks, this group was greatly enlarged. By 4 January over fourteen hundred individuals had been endowed. [191] One such meeting was held on Sunday, 28 December. “About two hundred of the brethren and sisters met at ten-thirty a.m. in the attic story of the Temple, some of the side rooms were filled, and the curtains withdrawn." [192] These curtains were undoubtedly the canvas partitions that had been placed in the central main hall. Large crowds of people resulted in problems for the structure. John D. Lee reported that “the floor in the attic story or more properly speaking—the trams and joists that support the floor was not sufficiently strong to bear up such an immense weight as would necessarily be upon it—when filled with people. The ceiling has already cracked in many places, the door frames were also cracked by the weight—in so much that it actually became necessary for the preservation of the building to stop holding anymore public meetings." [193] Heber C. Kimball reported that as Brigham Young addressed those present on Sunday, 28 December, he declared: “Weight on the floor . . . has already caused the walls to crack, prevents the doors from shutting and will injure the roof." [194] Brigham Young reported that on Sunday, 4 January: “No public meeting was held in the Temple this day, on account of the floor being insufficient to support a large congregation." [195] Smaller leadership and prayer meetings were still conducted in the offices, but large meetings were curtailed. The problem of where to meet was resolved as other parts of the building were completed. Within two weeks even larger public meetings were being held on the new floor of the second story.

After temple ordinance work ceased, most members joined in the western exodus. The crew left behind to finish the building concluded their work in late April. They then gathered in the attic story with their families to celebrate the completion of the temple.

On 28 April “about noon they ceased and all hands with their wives repaired to the temple for the feast, a large company were gathered, a plenty of cakes with cheese, and Raisens was furnished by the bretheren and Sisters for the occasion.” On 29 April “in the afternoon met in the attic story of the temple with the members who formed the prayer circle in No. 1 and a part of No. 2 with our wives and had a feast of cakes, pies, wine, &c. where we enjoyed ourselves with prayer preaching, administering for healing, blessing children, and music and Dancing untill near Midnight." [196]

Following the temple’s dedication, all furnishings were removed from the building. Thomas L. Kane described this interesting event: “The sacred rights of consecration ended, the work of removing the sacrosanct proceeded with the rapidity of magic. It went on through the night; and when the morning of the next day dawned, all the ornaments and furniture, everything that could provoke a sneer, had been carried off; and except some fixtures that would not bear removal, the building was dismantled to the bare walls." [197]

Conclusion Lighting for the interior of the building was provided by chandeliers, lanterns, lamps, and candles. This imposed some limitations on the building, making it more desirable to use during daylight hours, when it was well illuminated by its many windows.

Thick walls kept the building cool in summer and helped subdue extreme cold in winter. The building could be heated by stoves utilizing the four chimneys (two on each side of the building), which ran up from the basement. The east attic had four stoves with chimneys coming out of the roof.

Water used in the building had to be carried to the various floor levels from the well in the east end of the basement or from sources outside. There were no inside toilet facilities, so workers and patrons must have used outhouses somewhere near the temple.

There can be no doubt that had the Latter-day Saints remained in Nauvoo, they would have further embellished interior sections of the structure and given it a more perfect finish. All portions of the building were, however, both accessible and usable. Extensive use had been made of each floor level. From a functional point of the view, the temple was completed. Every section of the structure had been given a rough finish and many areas a final finish as well. President Joseph Fielding Smith observed:

It made no difference whether the Temple was finished or not. The revelation of January 19, 1841, provided, “That when I (the Lord) give a commandment to any of the sons of men, to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might, and with all they have, to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them, and hinder them from performing that work; behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings” [D&C 124:49]. [198]

The Saints were diligent in their labors, and they were also hindered by their enemies. . . . It made no difference, so far as the Church and its authority is concerned, even if the Temple had not been completed, or finished, in the technical sense of that word. Some of the embellishments, the ornamentations and fixtures, may not have been placed in the building according to the original intention, and in that technical sense the building may not have been “finished completely.” But if so, what difference would it make? The Lord, thank heaven, is not as technical and peevish as men are, or woe be unto all of us. The revelation does not say that the Church would be rejected with its dead if every identical board and plank or fixture was not in the building according to the original design. The thing the revelation does require is that a place be prepared, or built, where the Lord could reveal the Priesthood and its ordinances which had been taken away or that had not been restored. [199]

The builders were satisfied that the structure was acceptable; they had fulfilled their obligation to God. Feeling content with their efforts, they dedicated the building, left Nauvoo, and joined their companions on the plains of Iowa.


[1] Virginia S. Harrington and J. C. Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple (Salt Lake City: Nauvoo Restoration, 1971), 13.

[2] B. H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Period 2: Apostolic Interregnum (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1932), 7:358.

[3] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[4] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 20.

[5] Ibid., 17.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 20–21.

[8] Ibid., 22.

[9] Ibid., 23.

[10] Ibid., 17.

[11] Ibid., 16.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid., 17; also, William A. Gallup Journal Entry, 1848, LDS Church Archives; also, a writer for the Peoria Democratic Press of 29 May 1844, “who claimed to have seen a ‘diagram model’ of the temple which was shown to him by Joseph Smith gives the dimensions as 130 by 90,” as cited in Stanley B. Kimball, “The Nauvoo Temple,” Improvement Era, November 1963, 982.

[14] A report in the Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette 40 (19 October 1843): 1, as cited in J. Earl Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 10, LDS Church Archives, describes the temple basement as “about 12 feet in the clear, half of which is underground.” Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 16, confirms that the foundation walls of the excavated basement were about 5 feet below the ground level. The floor of the first story was 6 feet 4 inches above ground level.

From study of architectural sketches and documented descriptions, it is evident that the original basement level was either 5 feet 8 inches or 6 feet 8 inches below ground level. This all depends on whether the 12-foot depth was measured at the top or at the bottom of the 1-foot-thick beam and floor joists supporting the first floor. Drawings of the stairs indicate that the rise of the stairs from the basement floor to the level of the first floor was 11 feet 8 inches. This would tend to support the view that the 12-foot height of the basement was to the top of the first floor beams and floor joists. If this was the case, then there would only be a total of 11 feet of clearance between floor and ceiling. This would result in restricted headroom at the top of the baptismal font.

With the first story at 6 feet 4 inches above ground level, the original basement floor at the outside walls would be at 5 feet 8 inches below ground level. This height of the basement area would also be more consistent with the excavation reports indicating ground level at about 5 feet above the basement floor, as reported by Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 16.

[15] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 20. They note that there is clear evidence to show “that the bottoms of the [stone] partitions as originally built were higher than the final brick floor. . . . Apparently when it came time to lay the brick paving in 1845, the earth had worn down or it was arbitrarily decided to lay the floor at a lower level. . . . It appears that the earth was channeled out and a brick course inserted under the stone walls, and the brick floor laid up to this brick filler.”

[16] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:446; also, Journal History, 8 November 1841, LDS Church Archives.

[17] See explanation on possible heights of the basement story in note 14. If the basement had only 11 feet of clearance, then head room at the top of the wooden font would have been just 4 feet.

[18] Thomas Gregg, History of Hancock County, Illinois (Chicago: C. C. Chapman, 1880), 2:373. William Weeks’s drawings show the height at 7 feet 6 inches. See also Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 32. If the basement had only 11 feet of clearance, then head room at the top of the stone font would have been just 3 feet. The architect’s drawings of the stairs show a rise from the basement floor to the level of the first floor as only 11 feet 8 inches.

[19] Truman O. Angell to John Taylor, 11 March 1885, as cited in Laurel Andrew, “Nineteenth-Century Temple Architecture of the Latter-day Saints” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1973), 88.

[20] Smith, History of the Church, 4:446; also, Journal History, 8 November 1841.

[21] Nauvoo Neighbor, 1 May 1844.

[22] New York Herald, 6 September 1846.

[23] John Reynolds, My Own Times (Belleville, Ill.: B. H. Perryman and H. L. Davison, 1855), 580.

[24] John C. Bennett, History of the Saints (Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842), 190.

[25] Times and Seasons 6 (15 January 1845): 779.

[26] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:430.

[27] Times and Seasons 6 (1 July 1845): 956.

[28] New York Herald, 6 September 1846.

[29] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 482.

[30] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[31] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 32.

[32] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67. This report states the dimensions as 15 feet by 11 feet 6 inches. This is confirmed by evidence on the ground during archeological excavation. “A substantial part of the font base was found. . . . From their location, shape, and position in reference to the adjacent sand floor, these stones appear to be spalled slabs from the bottom of the font base, left in place when the fire cracked base stones were removed. . . . If it is assumed that the font was centered in the basement, by projection a width of 11 to 11½ feet is arrived at for the font base . . . and the assumed south curve gives an east west length of about 15 feet.” Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 34, 39.

[33] Times and Seasons 6 (15 January 1845): 779.

[34] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[35] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 482; New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[36] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[37] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 28, 34.

[38] Archaeological excavation reports found in Nauvoo Restoration files describing and showing measurements of stone fragments found during excavation, LDS Church Archives.

[39] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 38.

[40] Ibid., 28.

[41] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[42] Missouri Reporter 5 (2 May 1846): 2, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 377.

[43] Charles Lanman, A Summer in the Wilderness (New York: D. Appleton, 1847), 31.

[44] Emily M. Austin, Mormonism; or, Life among the Mormons (New York: AMS, 1971), 202.

[45] The Lewis sketch clearly shows that the arrangement of the oxen around the stone font was the same as that of the temporary font. See Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:446; also, Journal History, 8 November 1841; Thomas Gregg, History of Hancock County, Illinois, 373.

[46] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 482; also, Journal of History 3 (April 1910): 143.

[47] J. H. Buckingham, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1847,” Saints’ Herald, 15 March 1954, 11.

[48] Journal of History 3 (April 1910): 143.

[49] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:383.

[50] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 41.

[51] Smith, History of the Church, 4:446.

[52] Phoebe Swain and Lizzie Anderson, “History of Hiram Oaks,” LDS Church Archives, as quoted in Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 29.

[53] Reynolds, My Own Times, 580. There is evidence in the “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee Records,” July 1845, LDS Church Archives, of five days of labor for taking the boiler out of the basement. Also a purchase of stove coal for the temple as early as July 1842.

[54] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:535.

[55] St. Louis Morning Missouri Republican, 24 September 1846, as quoted in Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 30.

[56] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 31.

[57] Ibid., 32.

[58] New York Herald, 6 September 1846.

[59] Messenger and Advocate 2 (March 1846): 463.

[60] Diary of William Mendenhall, 1842–1896, 20 March through 4 April 1846, LDS Church Archives, as cited in Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 23.

[61] The Missouri Whig 7 (21 May 1846): 3, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 378.

[62] Lanman, A Summer in the Wilderness, 31.

[63] Hiram G. Ferris, “A Description of the Mormon Temple,” Carthage Republican, 19 March 1890, as quoted in Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 28.

[64] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 25.

[65] Ibid., 45.

[66] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 68. This report lists twenty-two windows, including six on the east end of the building. It is more accurate to conclude that only five windows were on the east end. This would fit the pattern on the front or west end and also match the number of five spaces or panels between the six pilasters of the east end.

[67] Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette 40 (19 October 1843): 1, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 30.

[68] Ferris, “A Description of the Mormon Temple,” as quoted in Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 30.

[69] Maxwell, personal communication, after careful study of an enlarged copy of the Chaffin daguerreotype.

[70] Nauvoo Neighbor, 1 May 1844.

[71] Ferris, “A Description of the Mormon Temple,” as quoted in Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 30.

[72] Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:454.

[73] Certificate dated 16 December 1845 giving permission to Theodore Rogers for the “privilege of the Baptismal Font,” LDS Church Archives, as quoted in Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 33.

[74] Deseret News, 26 November 1932.

[75] Hosea Stout, On the Mormon Frontier, the Diary of Hosea Stout 1844–1861, ed. Juanita Brooks (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1964), 1:110.

[76] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[77] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 14.

[78] Tim Maxwell, personal communication, after careful study of Temple Billing Records and Account Books.

[79] J. H. Buckingham, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1847,” Saints’ Herald, 15 March 1954, 11.

[80] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 25.

[81] Millennial Star 8 (1 August 1846): 31.

[82] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67; also, Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette 40 (19 October 1843): 1, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 18–19.

[83] “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee Records,” LDS Church Archives. Seven entries for flagging stones are recorded between 27 May and 16 June 1842. The type of stone and the dates when ordered corroborate the probability that this phase of construction included a flagstone-covered floor in the portico or front vestibule area.

[84] Aurelia S. Rogers, as quoted in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 23.

[85] Maxwell, personal communication.

[86] George Washington Bean, Autobiography of George Washington Bean, comp. Flora Diana Bean Horne (Salt Lake City: Utah, 1945), 23.

[87] Joseph Smith III, Joseph Smith III and the Restoration, ed. Mary Audentia Smith Anderson (Independence, Mo.: Herald House, 1952), 105; also, True Latter-day Saints Herald, 1 January 1872, 224–25, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 22.

[88] “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee” 9 August 1842 and 31 July 1845.

[89] Ibid., 9 August 1842.

[90] Harrington and Harrington, Rediscovery of the Nauvoo Temple, 16.

[91] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 67.

[92] Niles’ Register 69 (22 November 1845): 187, quoting an article from the New York Post.

[93] Brigham Young, The Journal of Brigham, comp. Leland R. Nelson (Provo, Utah: Council, 1980), 121; also, Roberts, History of the Church, 7:560.

[94] Buckingham, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1847,” 11.

[95] New York Tribune 7 (13 May 1848), as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 13.

[96] Director, Lyceum of Philadelphia, Lecture, 10 April 1847, 11, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 13.

[97] Buckingham reported that in the grand hall “seats are provided in this hall for the accommodation at one time of thirty-five hundred people.” Buckingham, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1847,” 11. A report published in the New-York Messenger estimated that each floor of the temple could accommodate four thousand people. New-York Messenger 2 (20 September 1845): 93. Hosea Stout claimed that four thousand individuals were present at the October conference of 1845. On the Mormon Frontier, 80. Brigham Young’s record of the same meeting indicates that five thousand individuals crowded into the building to attend this conference. Roberts, History of the Church, 7:456. These attendance figures must have been cumulative or included reports of individuals in other rooms of the temple. Since the total inside floor space of the first floor was only 8,000 square feet, it could not have accommodated these large numbers of people on one floor, especially with seats and pulpits taking up some of the space. Temporary galleries may have been utilized in the open, rough-finished first-story mezzanine to hold some of the crowd.

[98] Director, Lyceum of Philadelphia, Lecture, 10 April 1847, 11, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 13.

[99] Maxwell, personal communication.

[100] New York Evening Express, 7 November 1844, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 12.

[101] Young, The Journal of Brigham, 114.

[102] Ibid., 121.

[103] Times and Seasons 5 (1 January 1845): 759.

[104] Buckingham, Papers in Illinois History and Transactions, 1937; “Illinois as Lincoln Knew It,” Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield, Illinois, 172. Some confusion has arisen from Buckingham being quoted in three different versions of the same observation. In this article from “Illinois Historical Society,” he describes the next to the highest pulpit as being inscribed with gilded letters of PSZ. A second version from the same report is quoted in Saint’s Herald, 15 March 1954, 11, designating these letters as PSQ. In a third version he is quoted in “The Palmyra Courier Journal,” 22 September 1847, as cited in E. Cecil McGavin, Nauvoo the Beautiful (Salt Lake City: Stevens and Wallis, 1946), 38, describing the letters PSR. The most accurate version seems to be that of PSZ as found in the Illinois Historical Society report. It is confirmed by the observation of James Scott (see note 106) and is also confirmed by the exact same lettering PSZ being used on pulpits in the St. George Utah Temple, as confirmed by examination of photographs in LDS Church Archives.

[105] James A. Scott, Journal of James A. Scott, 4, LDS Church Archives.

[106] Director, Lyceum of Philadelphia, Lecture, 10 April 1847, 11, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 13; also Times and Seasons 5 (1 January 1845): 759.

[107] Director, Zane St. Public School, Philadelphia, Lecture, “A Journey on the Mississippi River,” 10 April 1847, 11, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 551.

[108] Burlington Hawk-Eye, 24 September 1846.

[109] Lanman, A Summer in the Wilderness, 32; also, Journal of James A. Scott, 4, LDS Church Archives.

[110] Chillicothe Advertiser 16 (25 July 1846): 1, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 69.

[111] New-York Messenger 2 (8 November 1845): 150.

[112] Ibid.

[113] Niles’ Register 69 (22 November 1845): 187. It is not known if there was an actual plan to build additional galleries or if this just referred to the area of a gallery for the choir. A gallery was in place for a large choir and also the band, but no galleries beyond this have been reported unless they were possibly temporary galleries in the unfinished first mezzanine in October 1845.

[114] Hancock Eagle, 24 April 1846.

[115] Lee County Democrat 5 (4 October 1845): 2.

[116] J. M. Davidson, editor of the Carthage Republican, 25 February 1864, as cited in E. Cecil McGavin, The Nauvoo Temple (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1962), 95.

[117] Iowa Territorial Gazette and Advertiser 9 (18 April 1846): 1, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 54, 516.

[118] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 484.

[119] “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee Records,” Daybook K.

[120] Ibid.

[121] Ibid.

[122] Ibid.

[123] Deseret Evening News, 7 March 1876, reprinted from the Cincinnati Times.

[124] Lanman, A Summer in the Wilderness, 32; also, New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 68.

[125] Times and Seasons 6 (15 January 1845): 779; also, John Taylor, “The John Taylor Nauvoo Journal,” ed. Dean C. Jesse, BYU Studies 23, no. 3 (summer 1983): 19.

[126] New-York Messenger 2 (8 November 1845): 150.

[127] New York Herald, 6 September 1846.

[128] Richard W. Jackson, “Meeting Places of the Latter-day Saints,” copy of preliminary manuscript in possession of author, 64–66.

[129] Maxwell, personal communication.

[130] Lanman, A Summer in the Wilderness, 32.

[131] Times and Seasons 6 (15 January 1846): 1096. The notice was dated 20 January 1846.

[132] Stout, On the Mormon Frontier, 1:104.

[133] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:573. This meeting was held on Saturday 24 January 1846.

[134] Ibid., 578.

[135] Saints’ Herald, 29 May 1943.

[136] “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee Records,” Daybook K.

[137] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 484.

[138] Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 117.

[139] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 483; also, New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 68; Austin, Mormonism; or, Life among the Mormons, 201.

[140] Austin, Mormonism; or, Life among the Mormons, 201.

[141] Nauvoo Independent 17 (3 January 1890): 32–33.

[142] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:565; also, Elden J. Watson, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 7; also, The Journal of Brigham Young, comp. Leland R. Nelson, 123; and Marie and Increase Van Dusen, A Dialogue between Adam and Eve, the Lord and the Devil, Called the Endowment (Albany: C. Killmer, 1847), 4–5. Van Dusen refers to this area as a “sitting room” and Brigham Young described it as the “reception room,” indicating that “an immense crowd was assembled and waiting there for admission” on Wednesday 7 January 1846. On that day a total of 121 persons received their endowments.

A careful study of available resources leads to the conclusion that the most likely point of assembly by patrons waiting to receive endowment ordinances was in this southwest corner room of the west front attic section of the temple. Assembly of such groups could not have been held on the first floor level because that portion of the building was under construction from 9 November 1845, when they started removing the temporary floor and its supports, until 22 February 1846, when for the first time a congregation met on the newly finished floor of this story. The second story was also under construction and the first reference to any meetings or assembly in this area was from journal entries of a meeting held on Sunday, 11 January 1846. See Hosea Stout, Diary of Hosea Stout, 1845, 2, 121, typescript, Brigham Young University Special Collections; Thomas Bullock, Journal of Thomas Bullock, BYU Studies 31, no. 1 (winter 1991): 43.

[143] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 68.

[144] Buckingham, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1847,” 11; also, Palmyra Courier-Journal, 22 September 1847, as cited in McGavin, Nauvoo the Beautiful, 38.

[145] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 483.

[146] Chillicothe Advertiser 16 (25 July 1846): 1, as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 24.

[147] Judith Brown, as quoted in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 24; also, Journal of History 3 (10 April 1910): 225–26.

[148] Journal History, 9 October 1848, citing an article in the Nauvoo Patriot of the same date.

[149] Warsaw Signal, 19 October 1848, quoting the Monmouth Atlas.

[150] “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee Records,” Daybook I.

[151] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 483.

[152] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:542. The offices on the sides had earlier been assigned somewhat differently: “The first, in the southeast corner as a private office. The second by Heber C. Kimball, W. Richards and myself. The third and fourth by others of the Twelve; Fifth, by Joseph Young and Presidency of the Seventies; Sixth, for washing and anointing the elders. On the north side: first, bishops and lesser priesthood. Second, president of the stake and high council; third and fourth, high priests’ quorum; fifth elders quorum; sixth, washing and anointing room occupied by the sisters.” Roberts, History of the Church, 7:535.

[153] Lisle G. Brown, The Sacred Departments for Temple Work in Nauvoo: The Assembly Room and the Council Chamber,” BYU Studies 19, no. 3 (spring 1979): 368–69.

[154] Van Deusen, A Dialogue, 4.

[155] Catherine Lewis, Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons (Lynn, Mass.: Catherine Lewis, 1848), 10.

[156] Journal of Heber C. Kimball, 21 December 1845, LDS Church Archives, as extracted by Historical Department staff; also, as cited in David R. Crockett, Saints in Exile, 96.

[157] Journal of Heber C. Kimball, 23 December 1845; Crockett, Saints in Exile, 99.

[158] Journal of Heber C. Kimball, 26 December 1845; Crockett, Saints in Exile, 103.

[159] Buckingham, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1847,” 11; also, as quoted in Palmyra Courier-Journal, 22 September 1847; Buckingham, Papers in Illinois History of Transactions, 171.

[160] William Clayton, An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City: Signature, 1991), ed. George D. Smith, 205; Roberts, History of the Church, 7:542; The Journal of Brigham Young, 112

[161] Heber C. Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel: The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Signature and Smith Research Associates, 1987), ed. Stanley R. Kimball, 204.

[162] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:542; also, The Journal of Brigham Young, 112.

[163] New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 68.

[164] Times and Seasons 6 (1 April 1845); also, New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 68. “At the east end of this room, is already constructed the frame of a window twenty and a half feet in the , which forms four gothic windows, and three irregular triangles which partake of the eliptic and gothic.” Buckingham, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1847,” 11; also, as quoted in Palmyra Courier-Journal, 22 September 1847.

[165] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:542; also, The Journal of Brigham Young, 112.

[166] Elwin C. Robinson, The First Mormon Temple (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1997), 131. “The Nauvoo Temple roof was framed with a queen post truss, which leaves the central portion of the attic undivided.” The temple billing records show a bill for “18 queen posts, 14 ft long, 12 by 12” some of which could have been used in this attic area. Newell K. Whitney, Whitney Collection, Box 3, Folder 5, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

[167] Illinois Journal, 9 December 1853, as reprinted in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 38 (1945): 484.

[168] Lanman, A Summer in the Wilderness, 32. Doors for use somewhere in the temple were constructed and “ready to be put together” as early as August 1845; New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845), 68. Locks and keys for several doors as well as dozens of hinges had been purchased. “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee Records,” Daybook H. This attic area was heavily utilized. It is therefore logical to conclude that the offices of these side rooms had doors. This is also born out by John D. Lee, who indicated that the weight of large crowds in this attic area had cracked the door frames. John D. Lee, “Diary Selections, February 5, 1844–January 25, 1846,” 10, LDS Church Archives.

[169] Lyman O. Littlefield, New-York Messenger 2 (30 August 1845): 68.

[170] “Nauvoo Temple Building Committee Records,” as cited in Arrington, “Story of the Nauvoo Temple,” 55.

[171] Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel, 150.

[172] Ibid., 166; also, John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, and Co., 1877), 168–69.

[173] Autobiography of George Washington Bean, 23; also, Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel, 157.

[174] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:531.

[175] Ibid., 532.

[176] Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel, 151.

[177] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:533.

[178] Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel, 153.

[179] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:539.

[180] Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel, 157.

[181] Ibid., 161.

[182] Clayton, An Intimate Chronicle, 205.

[183] Based on the descriptions provided by Van Deusen, A Dialogue, 3–5, 15. See note 142 for a more detailed explanation justifying the conclusion that this was the area where patrons assembled prior to receiving their endowments.

[184] Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel, 156.

[185] Ibid., 162–67; also, Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Western Epics, 1901), 2:380–81; also, Journal of Heber C. Kimball, 1801–1848, 11 December 1845, Kimball Collection, LDS Church Archives, as quoted in Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Jeni Broberg Holzapfel, Women of Nauvoo (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992), 150–51.

[186] Iowa Territorial Gazette and Advertiser 9 (18 April 1846): 1.

[187] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:566; also, The Journal of Brigham Young, 123.

[188] Lee, “Diary Selections, February 5, 1844–January 25, 1846,” 10; also, C. Edward Jacob, The Record of Norton Jacob (Salt Lake City: Norton Jacob Family Association, 1949), 18.

[189] Kimball, On the Potter’s Wheel, 164–65.

[190] Journal of Heber C. Kimball, 1801–1848, 10 December 1845.

[191] Roberts, History of the Church, 7:542–62.

[192] Ibid., 555–56; also, The Journal of Brigham Young, 118.

[193] Lee, “Diary Selections, February 5, 1844–January 25, 1846,” 10.

[194] Helen Mar Whitney, “Scenes in Nauvoo, and Incidents from H. C. Kimball’s Journal,” Woman’s Exponent 12 (15 August 1883): 42.

[195] Roberts, History of the Church 7:562; also, The Journal of Brigham Young, 122.

[196] Diary of Samuel Whitney Richards, 1:17–18, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

[197] Thomas L. Kane, The Mormons: A Discourse (Philadelphia: King and Baird, 1850), 21.

[198] Joseph Fielding Smith, Origin of the “Reorganized” Church and the Question of Succession (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909), 36. It was D&C 124:25–40 that gave divine authorization and commandment to build the Nauvoo Temple. Verse 51 explains: “Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson county, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God.” If such an exception was granted in Missouri, then this would also logically apply to Nauvoo. This is especially true when considering the sacrifice, effort, and opposition encountered while building the Nauvoo Temple.

[199] Joseph Fielding Smith, Origin of the “Reorganized” Church and Question of Succession (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1913), 47.