Description of the Ordinance Rooms of the Salt Lake Temple
From The House of the Lord:
A Study of Holy Sanctuaries, Ancient and Modern (1969), 83, 204-208
Elder James E. Talmage
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
[Underlining, bolding, and numbers hvae been added. All editions of The House of the Lord
have included pictures of the interior including the ordinance rooms.
Each edition includes updated pictures as the Salt Lake Temple has been
renovated--as needed--on various occasions. The pictures in this
collection are updated pictures.]
The Temple Endowment, as administered in modern temples, comprises instruction relating to the significance and sequence of past dispensations,and the importance of the present as the greatest and grandest era in human history.
This course of instruction includes a recital of  the most prominent
events of the creative period,  the condition of our first parents
in the Garden of Eden,  their disobedience and consequent expulsion
from that blissful abode,  their condition in the lone and dreary
world when doomed to live by labor and sweat,  the plan of
redemption by which the great transgression may be atoned,  the
period of the great apostasy,  the restoration of the Gospel with
all its ancient powers and privileges,  the absolute and
indispensable condition of personal purity and devotion to the right in
the present life, and a strict compliance with Gospel requirements.
The Creation Room:
the east side of the lower corridor of the temple are two assembly
rooms. The first of these is about 40 to 45 feet, and is finished with
plainness. Murals on the walls are subdued in tones, and depict scenes
representative of the creation of the earth. The seats are comfortably
cushioned, typical of those in the various lecture rooms of the temple.
Provision is made for 301 persons. This room is used for preliminary
instruction purposes, and may be called for convenience the Creation
The Garden Room:
striking contrast with the room last described is the room on the
south, entered from the Creation Room by an arched doorway hung with
portieres. While of about the same size as the room described, and
seated to accommodate the same number of persons, in all its
appointments it is of more elaborate design. Ceiling and walls are
embellished with oil paintings to represent clouds and sky, with sun
and moon and stars; the latter showing landscape scenes of rare beauty.
There are sylvan grottoes and mossy dells, lakelets and brooks,
waterfalls and rivulets, trees, vines and flowers, insects, birds and
beasts, in short, the earth beautiful-as it was before the Fall. It may
be called the Garden of Eden Room, for in every part and appurtenance
it speaks of sweet content and blessed repose. There is no suggestion
of disturbance, enmity or hostility; the beasts are at peace and the
birds live in amity. In the center of the south wall is a platform and
an altar of prayer, reached by three steps. The altar is upholstered in
velvet, and on it rests the Holy Bible.
The Grand Stairway
starts near the south end of the lower east corridor of the temple. It
is provided with a stately newel post and a massive balustrade, both of
solid cherry wood, and finished in white and gold. This stairway
comprises 35 steps with three landings, and at its top is the upper
corridor, running 40 feet north and south. At the south end of the
corridor is an art window in rich colors, elliptical in form, about ten
feet in height, depicting the expulsion from Eden. It is of special significance in the journey from the Garden Room below to the symbolical room which will next be described.
The World Room:
off to the west from the first landing below the top of the grand
stairway is a side corridor nine feet wide and 15 feet long. At either
end the corridor terminates in an arch way. The room to which it leads
is of equal size with those below, 40 by 45 feet. It is carpeted
richly, and is seated in the usual way. At the west end is an
upholstered prayer altar, on which are placed in readiness for use the
Holy Scriptures. Near the altar is a stairway leading to a small
waiting room adjoining the elevator landing.
The walls are
entirely covered with scenic paintings and the ceiling is pictured to
represent sky and cloud. The earth scenes are in strong contrast with
those of the Garden Room below. Here the rocks are rent and riven; the
earth-story is that of mountain uplift and seismic disruption. Beasts
are contending in deadly strife, or engaged in murderous attack, or
already rending their prey. The more timorous creatures are fleeing
from their ravenous foes or cowering in half-concealed retreats. There
are lions in combat, a tiger gloating over a fallen deer, wolves and
foxes in hungry search. Birds of prey are slaying or being slain. On
the summit of a rugged cliff is an eagle's eyrie, the mother and her
brood watching the approach of the male bird holding a lambkin in his
claws. All the forest folk and the wild things of the mountain are
living under the ever-present menace of death, and it is by death they
live. The trees are gnarled, misshapen, and blasted; shrubs maintain a
precarious root-hold in rocky clefts; thorns, thistles, cacti, and
noxious weeds abound; and in one quarter a destructive storm is raging.
scenes are typical of the world's condition under the curse of God.
Nevertheless there is a certain weird attractiveness in the scenes and
in their suggestiveness. The story is that of struggle and strife; of
victory and triumph or of defeat and death. From Eden man has been
driven out to meet contention, to struggle with difficulties, to live
by strife and sweat. This chamber may well be known as the room of the
fallen world, or more briefly, the World Room.
The Terrestrial Room: From the north-west corner of the room last described is a large door-way leading into another room, lThe House of the Lord, p.208ofty,
spacious, and beautiful. Its general effect is that of combined
richness and simplicity. Following the elaborate decoration of the
World Room, this is restful in its soft coloring and air of comfort.
The carpet is a light shade of blue. The walls are of pale blue, the
ceiling and woodwork are white with trimmings in gold, At the west end
is a large mirror framed in white and gold. The chairs, which provide
seating for 300, are upholstered to harmonize with the floor-covering.
From the ceiling hang two massive crystal chandeliers.
upholstered altar stands near the east end of the room, with copies of
sacred writ in place. In this room lectures are given pertaining to the
endowments and emphasizing the practical duties of a religious life. We
may, for convenience, designate it the Terrestrial Room. At the east
end is a raised floor of two levels reached by two steps to each level
across which springs an arch of 30 feet span. The arch is supported by
five columns between which hangs a silken portiere in 24 sections. This
is the Veil of the Temple.
The Celestial Room:
From the room last described to the one now under consideration the
passage leads through the Veil. This is a large and lofty room about 60
by 45 feet in area and 34 feet in height, occupying the northeast
section of the building on this floor. In finish and furnishings it is
the grandest of all the large rooms within the walls. If the last room
described could be considered typical of the terrestrial state, this is
suggestive of conditions yet more exalted; and it may appropriately be
called Celestial Room. The west end is occupied wholly by the Veil and
a mirrored wall. The east wall is in part taken up by five large
mirrors and a mirrored door, 13 feet high; the central section of each
is three feet eight inches wide, and the side sections each three feet
in width. Along the walls are 22 columns in pairs, with Corinthian
caps. These support entablatures from which spring ten arches, four on
either side and one at each end. The ceiling is a combination of vault
and panel construction elaborately finished. Massive cornices and beams
separating the ceiling panels are richly embellished with clusters of
fruit and flowers. The color scheme of the walls is soft brown relieved
by the light tan of the fluted columns and by abundant trimmings in
gold. Eight chandeliers with shades of richly finished glass hang from
the ceiling, and each of the 22 columns holds a bracket of lights in
corresponding design. A newel-post at the east bears a flower-cluster
of colored globes with an artistic support in bronze. The floor is
covered by a heavy carpet and the movable furniture is all of rich yet
appropriate design. At the east is a short flight of stairs leading
into a sealing room.
Each of the three
arched-window recesses in the north is framed by draped curtains of
silk, which in material and design match the Veil. An arched doorway at
the north leads to the sealing room annex to be later described. On the
south side are four pairs of double doors in position and size
symmetrically corresponding with the windows on the north. The portal
at the south-west opens directly into the upper corridor at the head of
the grand stairway already described; each of the three other portals
is fitted with sliding doors, and opens into a separate room slightly
raised above the floor of the large room, and reserved for special
ceremonial work more specifically described in the following paragraphs.