Utah's best-known landmark marked its 100th birthday Tuesday.
The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated 100 years ago by the church's fourth president, Wilford Woodruff. Today, the temple has become the state's most recognized landmark. Each year, Temple Square, with the temple as its centerpiece, draws more visitors than any other attraction in the state.Measured by today's standards, the temple would be costly to duplicate. Local contractor Ted Jacobsen, president of Jacobsen Construction, estimates that the temple would cost anywhere from $85 million to $95 million to build today. The costs wouldn't include landscaping or Temple Square's distinctive wall. By comparison, the Delta Center cost $66 million.
"There is nothing really you can compare it with," Jacobsen said. His firm recently refurbished the exterior of the temple.
Historian Leonard Arrington estimated the cost of building the temple was equal to about 4 million 1893 dollars.
In 1893, the temple dedication was cause for a great celebration for Latter-day Saints. Thousands poured into Salt Lake City as railroads dispatched special trains from throughout Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Other visitors came from LDS settlements in Canada and Mexico to witness the dedication of the temple, which had taken 40 years to construct.
A day before the dedication, non-LDS residents also were invited to view the interior of the temple before its dedication. Some 600 people accepted the invitation.
The dedication also attracted reporters from newspapers across the nation. A reporter from the Chattanooga (Tenn.) News told a Deseret News reporter then, "I have been through the palace of the duke of Westminster near Chester, England, which is said to be the finest in England and in many royal palaces on the continent of Europe, but never have I seen such magnificence as this Temple of the Latter-day Saints which was dedicated today."
Two days before the dedication, President Woodruff opened general conference by saying that the saints should be "filled with gratitude" at the completion of the temple.
"No call, he (President Woodruff) believed, had ever been made upon any people upon the face of the Earth which had been met with such a hearty and universal response as that for means to finish the Salt Lake Temple. He felt to thank the Lord for the spirit which had been manifested by the saints in this respect," the Deseret News reported.
On the morning of April 6, 1893, more than 2,250 people braved high winds to reach Temple Square. They crowded into the large assembly room on the temple's fifth floor for the first dedicatory service. The dedicatory sessions continued for three weeks, and many reported having spiritual experiences.