After publishing other books on Latter-day Saint temples, Richard O. Cowan began planning a work on the Provo Utah Temple. Not only was it his local temple, which he had witnessed being built and which he had attended for over four decades, but it had a distinctive place among the Church’s growing family of temples. It had a unique design and had gained the distinction of being the most productive temple in the Church.
In September 2011, Richard invited Justin Bray to become a coauthor on this project. Only two weeks later, Church President Thomas S. Monson announced that the Provo Tabernacle, nearly destroyed by fire the previous year, would be rebuilt into Provo’s second temple. The authors immediately decided to expand the scope of their project to include both of Provo’s two temples. The new temple would also be distinctive, constructed in the red-brick shell of the older building.
The two authors bring different backgrounds to this project. After earning his doctorate in history at Stanford University in 1961, Richard O. Cowan taught courses in religion at Brigham Young University for over fifty years. His research focus has been on the Doctrine and Covenants and on Latter-day Saint history during the twentieth century. He has authored more than a dozen books related to these topics, including three about Mormon temples. As a student at BYU, Justin Bray served as Dr. Cowan’s research assistant for two years. Following graduation, he joined the staff at the Church History Department in Salt Lake City. Among other things, he has been assigned to conduct oral history interviews with general Church leaders. Bray has authored several articles related to LDS history and religious practice and coedited two books on historian Andrew Jenson’s missionary travels. He is completing work on a master’s degree in history at the University of Utah.
An important feature of this book is the large number of insightful photographs, particularly related to construction of the new Provo City Center Temple. The authors are grateful to Lee R. Cowan, Richard’s son, who has worked tirelessly to document key steps in the construction. The authors are also indebted to Julie Cannon Markham, who maintained a richly illustrated blog recording the story of how the new temple was built and who made many of her photos available to be included in this book.
Several individuals have provided vital information needed for this work. These include former presidents of the Provo Utah Temple and Kurt Jensen, the temple’s recorder. John Emery, project manager for Jacobsen Construction, and James Hansen, the Church’s site manager, have kept the authors up to date on developments as the Provo City Center Temple has been built.
Others have made important contributions as well. Thomas Wayment, publications director at Brigham Young University’s Religious Studies Center, has provided counsel and encouragement regarding this project. Devan Jensen, executive editor at the RSC, kindly answered repeated questions regarding style and form. Brent Nordgren, production supervisor, generously provided technical assistance with illustrations. Juliana Cox is the capable graphic designer of this book. We express thanks to RSC editing interns Austin Ballard, Alison Brimley, Shanna D’Avila, Rebecca Bird, Hadley Griggs, Rachel Gessel, Rebekah Weaver, and Leah Welker.
Appreciation is also due to a group of Brigham Young University students who have provided important help to Richard Cowan with this project. Rachelle Price has spent many hours helping research, collect, organize, and evaluate the materials used in this work. Madison Thornberg and Ashley Logan have helped with many details. Under the direction of Patty Smith, the staff in Religious Education’s faculty support center have provided assistance in various ways. Reg Beales, for example, produced several of the maps and schematic drawings we have used. Without their help, this project could not have been accomplished.
The authors hope that you will find this book to be interesting. In addition to information about the history of Provo’s two temples, we hope you will gain insights that will enrich your service in these or any other latter-day temples.