Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Plan of Interior
Section 1
Broad stair
14½ feet by 3
121/2 by 3
12 14½ by 8 feet 4 8 inches
Section 2
Presiden[t]s of the Priesthood No 1 3½ by 6
No 2 seat 3½ by 6
No 3 seat 3½ by 6
3½ by 6 3½ by 4 8 3½ by 6
+c. No 4 seat
4 feet wide
Section 3
from this dotted line go up stairs. Broad Stair
14½ feet by 3
12 by 3
Section 4
15 12 14½ feet long 3 feet wide
1 14½ by 9
Section 5
11 feet 10 inch by 3 11 feet 10 inch by 3
Section 6
Scale of the floor 4 feet to an inch
15 14½ feet long 3 feet wide
1 14½ by 9
Section 7
12½ by 3 feet.
10 feet by 3½
Section 8
5 feet wide Swing table
4 feet wide
8 feet long
No 4
No 3
No 2
No 1
Section 9
12½ by 3
10 feet by 3½
Explanation of Interior
This for the is Eighty Seven feet Long and Sixty one feet wide and ten feet taken of[f] on the east end for the stairway leaves the inner court 78 by 61 feet which is calculated and divided for seats in the following manner viz— the two Aisles 4 feet wide each the middle block of pews are 11 feet 10 inches wide long and three feet wide each and the two lines drawn through the middle are 4 inchs apart for which a curtain is to drop at right angles and divide the house in to four parts if necessary the side block of pews are 16 feet <10 inches> 6 inches long and 3 feet wide the side <Block of> pews opposite the above are 14 feet 6 inches long and 3 feet wide the 5 pews in each corner of the house are 12 feet 6 inches long divided into 5 the open spaces between the corner and side pews are for fire plac[e]s those in the west are 9 feet wide and the East ones are 8 feet 8 inches wide and the chimney carried up in the wall where they are marked with a pencil
The pulpit in the west end of the house is to be occupied by the as follows No 1 for the No 2d for the No 3d No 3 for the and No 4 for the each of these are 8 feet long containing 3 coves or stands for the respective speaker and their seats opposite of them are for visiting officers who are to occupy the seats according to their respective grades the 2 spaces in the middle are stairs 2 feet wide, the middle pulpit is to be ellevated the first seats one foot the 2d two feet the 3d 3 feet & the fourth 4 feet [p. [1]]
and those upon each side are also to be ellevated the first one 8 inches the 2d 16 the 3 two feet the 4th 2 feet 8 inchs the corner seats are to be occupied by singers and ellevated the first seat 6 inchs the 2 12— the 3d 18— the 4— 24— & the 5th 4 30 inches. The Pulpit in the East end of the is to be occupied by the No 1 the Presidency of lesser Priesthood No 2 for the No 3 for the and No 4 for the and the seats by their side are also to be occupied by by visiting officer each one opposite his respective office grade &c the pulpits are to be [illegible] off with pannel work in the best workmanlike manner and the building to be composed of stone and brick of the best kind
Plan of Exterior
Side View of Exterior
[Image of Side View of the House]
The Scale of this side is 8 feet to an inch
28 feet high 2 stairs
This is to represent a side view of the house five windows in each story the windows are to have each 48 lights 7— by 9— 6 one way and eight the other the sills and littels [lintels] of the windows to be of hewn stone and on the top of the Center is to be a gothick top as you see but <the> window must have a lintel and so with the out side doors the middle window of the ◊◊◊ is to have side lights all with gothick tops make your house 14 feet high between the floors and the timbers there will not be a gallery but a chamber each story to be 14 feet high arched over head with an eleptical arch each of the stories let the under part or foundation of the house be of stone let it be raised sufficiently high to admit of banking up so high as to admit of a descent every way from the house as far as to divide the distance betwen this house and those next to it on top of this the stone and above the embankment let there be two rows of hewn stone and then commence the back on the hewn stone in the entire hight of the house 28 feet each story being 14 feet make the wall a sufficient thinkness thickness for a house of this size Observe particularly that as there are pulpits at each <end of the house> that the backs of the congregation must be to one of them and they will want occasionally to change in order for this the house must have pews pews instead of Slips and in the pews let the seats be loose so as to slip from one side of the pew to the other so as to face other pulpit as occasion may require
immediately on entering the outer door turn to the right and left to go up stairs and between the stairs and and inner door, <& under the stairs> there is to be a vestry to contain the furniture of the house & the dressing rooms——
NB For your satisfaction we inform you that the plot for the City and the size form and dime[n]sions <of the house> were given us of the Lord
End View of the Exterior
[Image of End View of the House]
8 feet to an inch
This cut represents an end view the windows the same as in the side the middle window excepted <it> is to be the same with the addition of side lights this middle window is desighned to light both above and below as the upper floor as to be laid off presently in the same way as the lower and arched over head with curtains or vailes as is before mentioned you will be carefull to have hooks and rings to suspend your vailes on so they can be let down or raised [u]p at any time at pleasure also as you can see the pulpits are to have four seats one raising above another for instance the Elders seat is the lowest next comes the high Priests next the presidency <Bishop> so each of these must have a vail that is suspended to the uper ceiling floor so to be let down which will at any time when necessary be let down and shut off each stand or seat by itself. The doors are to be 5 feet wide 9 feet high and to be in the east end the west end is to have no doors but in other respects to be like the east <except the windows are to be opposite to alleys which runs east and west of> the roof of the house to have one fourth ptich the door to have gothick tops as the windows the shingles of the roof to be painted before the[y] are put on there is to be a fan light as you see. The windows and doors are all to have venetions [venetians] a balcony in the east end and a bell of very large size [p. [2]]


  1. 1 The term “house of the Lord” was used in the Old Testament to refer to the temple Solomon built. (See 1 Kings 6:2; 7:51; 8:11.)  
  2. 2 The presidency of the high priesthood. This House of the Lord was also to be used for religious instruction and worship. For information on changes that had been recently made to the presidency of the high priesthood, see Historical Introduction to Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90].  
  3. 3 These figures are the building’s interior dimensions.  
  4. 4 Similar to the House of the Lord in Kirtland, this temple was to have two courts, or assembly halls, one stacked above the other. The inner court refers to the meeting room on the lower, or first, level. Use of the term court reflects influence from the Bible, in which different sections of the temples were called courts. The entry for court in Webster’s 1828 dictionary says that “places of public worship are called the courts of the Lord.” One court in this temple was likely for the community, and the other was for the school where men ordained to the priesthood would be instructed. (“Court,” in American Dictionary, italics in original; see also 1 Kings 6:36; Ezekiel 44:27; and Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95:15–16].)  
  5. 5 This appears to be an error as eighty-seven feet subtracted by ten feet would be seventy-seven feet, not seventy-eight.  
  6. 6 In other words, “the central block of pews was to have a four-inch gap dividing it lengthwise into two equal parts. In addition, the central and the lateral blocks were to be divided widthwise by another four-inch gap. These gaps allowed curtains, or ‘vails,’ . . . to be unrolled from the ceiling and pass to the floor, thereby quartering the congregational area.” Although this feature seems unusual, a “moveable partition down the middle of the auditorium” that could be used to separate the audience into two groups was a common feature in contemporary Quaker meetinghouses. (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 20, 85–93; Rose, Colonial Houses of Worship in America, 71.)  
  7. 7 According to John Corrill, in each of the assembly halls “were built two pulpits, one in each end. Each pulpit consisted of four different apartments. . . . Each of these apartments was just large enough, and rightly calculated to receive three persons, and the breast-work in front of each . . . was constituted of three semi-circles, joining each other, and finished in good style.” The four apartments were to be staggered like stairs, each one built higher and further back than the one in front of it. (Corrill, Brief History, 21–22.)  
  8. 8 The rows of the pulpit are described in descending order, beginning with the most elevated row. Because the lowest row of pulpits mentioned in the subsequent list was designated for the elders, “high priest hood” is here used more broadly than its typical reference to only ordained high priests. For more information on the high priesthood, see Minutes, ca. 3–4 June 1831.  
  9. 9 The presidency of the high priesthood.  
  10. 10 No “coves” or speaker stands were called for on the bottom pulpit row designated for the elders. Instead, a swing table was to be attached to the front.  
  11. 11 That is, to each side of them.  
  12. 12 Architectural historian Elwin C. Robison explains, “Each row of pulpits was to be raised above the previous row, with the central pulpit higher than the flanking ones. The specifications on both sets of drawings for the Independence Temple state that the central pews in each row should rise in twelve-inch increments, while the pulpits to each side should increase in eight-inch increments. The intent of this directive was probably to elevate the central pulpits four inches above the flanking ones. However, if the pulpits were built as described on the drawing, the uppermost central pulpit would be four times four inches, or sixteen inches, above its flanking pulpits and would require two steps leading from the side to the central pulpit. Unfortunately, lack of space would run such steps into the adjacent pulpit. Perhaps this unresolved problem led carpenters [who later worked on the Kirtland temple] to dispense with making the central pulpit higher and to build all three pulpits in each row at the same elevation.” (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 19–20.)  
  13. 13 This appears to be a reference to seating for a choir. According to music scholar Michael Hicks, these plans reveal that JS had planned “to have a formal choir,” and a choir was in fact organized for the Kirtland temple’s dedication in 1836. (Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 39–40; Revelation, July 1830–C [D&C 25:11–12].)  
  14. 14 See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:18–27]; and Plat of the City of Zion, ca. Early June–25 June 1833.  
  15. 15 TEXT: Possibly “done”.  
  16. 16 See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 72 [2 Nephi 5:16].  
  17. 17 In an era when many structures were built of wood, the temples, like the private residences in the city of Zion, were to be built of brick or stone. (Plat of the City of Zion, ca. Early June–25 June 1833.)  
  18. 18 Webster’s 1828 dictionary defined a “light” as “a pane of glass; as a window with twelve lights.” The size seven by nine was standard for glass windows. (“Light,” in American Dictionary; Hazlett, History of Rockingham County, New Hampshire, 679.)  
  19. 19 A lintel is a load-bearing or decorative architectural element often found over doors and windows.  
  20. 20 Aside from the building’s dimensions, the only stylistic elements specified for the exterior of the temple are “gothick tops” on the windows and doors. Gothic doors and windows typically had rounded tops that came to a point at the apex. Gothic windows were a typical “cultural symbol for a church” in the United States and Canada in the early nineteenth century. An article in the July 1835 Messenger and Advocate discussed the nearly completed House of the Lord in Kirtland and noted that the house “will be lighted with thirty-two Gothic, three Venitian, ten dormer, one circular and two square gable-windows.” (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 17; [William W. Phelps], “The House of God,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, 1:147.)  
  21. 21 Most contemporary churches had “an upper gallery, or balcony, which was above the sanctuary and supported on columns. Often these balconies were U-shaped, leaving a full double height in the center of the room.” In contrast, the specifications here call for two stories with an assembly hall on each level. (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 19.)  
  22. 22 According to one architectural historian, these specifications “describe the vaults, but neither the scaled drawings nor the height measurements listed in the specifications take them into account. . . . The fourteen-foot stories described here leave no room for the second-floor girders and joists or for the elliptical arch set into the ceiling of the lower floor.” These specifications for the House of the Lord in Jackson County were, therefore, not practical. When the Kirtland temple was built, workers raised the overall height of the building to forty-five feet to reach the eaves of the roof instead of the twenty-eight feet specified for the original Jackson County temple. (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 14–15.)  
  23. 23 Based on the scale used in the drawing, the walls were to be three feet thick.  
  24. 24 People of the period tended to use the terms pew and slip synonymously. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defined pew as “an inclosed seat in a church. Pews were formerly made square; in modern churches in America they are generally long and narrow, and sometimes called slips.” The definition of slip was “a long seat or narrow pew in churches.” The text here seems to distinguish between a large, immovable pew and a smaller bench or slip that could be easily moved forward or backward. (“Pew,” in American Dictionary, italics in original; “Slip,” in American Dictionary.)  
  25. 25 In other words, the benches in the pews could be moved from the back to the front. This arrangement allowed congregants to “face either the Melchizedek or Aaronic pulpits, depending upon who was officiating during the meeting. Most meetings [in the Kirtland temple] were held facing the west or Melchizedek pulpits—an arrangement that would have been far more practical for latecomers, who could then slip in the eastern doors without disturbing the western-facing congregation.” (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 20.)  
  26. 26 According to one architectural historian, “Most contemporary churches had an entry vestibule that led into the main sanctuary. . . . In these church buildings, stairs at the sides of the vestibule led to an upper gallery, or balcony, which was above the sanctuary.” Here, the stairs led to the upper-floor auditorium, which was to be used as a school. (Robison, First Mormon Temple, 19.)  
  27. 27 Venetians are decorative features that make the tops of windows or doors semicircular, similar to gothic-top windows.