Anyone who comes into our valley for the first time can see a beautiful building built upon a hillside near the center of Logan city. It looks somewhat like an ancient castle. I’m speaking, of course, of the Logan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the LDS Church or Mormon Church).
Among holy rites occurring in the Logan Temple five days a week are weddings and ordinances for obtaining joy and happiness in this life and in the life hereafter. These same ordinances are completed on behalf of deceased relatives who were never baptized during their mortal lives. We believe in eternal life for everyone. Instructional sessions using film narrations explain our purposes here on the earth and why these ordinances are important. Living persons doing these things for themselves need a recommendation form from their bishop or his counselors that is endorsed by a stake president or his counselors. The specifics of what takes place in a temple are sacred, not secret. Even “Google” explains what occurs.
Ten days ago, I performed the marriage of a granddaughter to her husband, a fine young man she met at Snow College when both were there on athletic scholarships. Many family members and relatives attended. They are now pursuing their college degrees here at Utah State and living in Aggie Village, where I once lived way back when I was married and brought my wife and young family to live on campus as I earned a bachelor’s degree.
Due to age and health challenges, I no longer give regular service in the Logan Temple. However, by asking the leaders of our church for permission to do so, I may be given the privilege of performing wedding ceremonies within my own family. So far, I have done so for four of our grandchildren and their spouses.
Just before I retired from USU, I began serving in the Logan Temple at the entrance desk, checking each entrant to assure they had a worthiness recommend from their leaders and directing them to the right place in the temple. Especially during the summer months, many tourists going through our valley would enter the front doors of the temple and come to the desk where I was waiting to check in entrants. The tourists were awed by this “beautiful building” and wanted to know if they could see more of it. I told them it was for members only once it was built and dedicated and offered them a small booklet that told about our Logan Temple — its history and what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in. I also invited them to drive to Center and Main streets in downtown Logan, where they would be able to gain much more information about the beautiful Logan Tabernacle, which was constructed at the same time the Logan Temple was built. Tour guides are posted there all during the “tourist” season. I wished I had some additional free literature at the desk, but none was available at that time.
The Logan Temple was the fourth constructed and second operating temple of the church. It remains the sixth largest temple of the many temples now dotting the earth. It was dedicated and opened in 1884, 125 years ago.
Roughly 25,000 people worked on the temple. As completion neared, women in the area were asked to make carpets for the temple, since commercially made carpet could not be bought in Utah at that time. The women spent two months working to hand-craft 2,000 square yards of carpet. Remnants of that carpet can be seen in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum on Main Street in downtown Logan.
I’ve often thought it would be nice to have a visitor’s center across the street from the Logan Temple. Volunteers could staff it in summer months, and if restrooms were included, it would be a great stopping place for the thousands of tourists who pass through our valley each summer and even for the foreign students and others who come here for longer periods of time. I know that just east, up the road a bit, there’s another historic building that might be restored — a livery stable where horses were kept while early-day patrons to the temple came by horse and wagon to participate in temple service.
In 1917, fire destroyed much of the southeast stairway, and it had to be rebuilt. In 1949, the temple was remodeled — lighting updates, heating, air conditioning, elevators and other modern conveniences were put in place. 1977 saw more extensive remodeling. The interior of the temple was completely rebuilt. In 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball rededicated the building. In 2005, Annette Lyon authored a great book — a novel entitled “House on the Hill,” — which provides additional interesting information.
As time marches on, older buildings need to be redone to meet current code specifications. Current LDS President Russell M. Nelson has announced the remodeling of many temples soon, including the Logan Temple. Local members of the church will need to travel to Brigham City, Ogden, other temples in the greater SLC area, or into Idaho for temples there.
The grounds around the Logan Temple are open for everyone and include beautiful flowers and historic trees. All are welcome to walk the pathways and enjoy the peace and beauty. And as I mentioned above, the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum on Main Street has many photos taken when the Logan temple was being built. The stones were cut in Logan Canyon and Green Canyon and hauled by oxen-pulled wagons to the temple site. I salute the faithful pioneer workers and construction workers who labored diligently to build an edifice which has steadily stood for 125 years. In the years ahead, contractors will undertake the next restructuring, remodeling, revamping, so our Logan Temple may stand for another 125 years as a landmark, a house of worship, and visual focal point of Logan and our beautiful Cache Valley.
Jay Monson is a former educator, and also served on the Utah State Board of Education, Cache County Council, and Logan City Council. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org