Looking upon the western façade of the temple from just above “the grove” where Joseph used to preach. Taken in the early morning as the sun was about to rise and begin to burn off the cloud cover, the temple crowns the brow of the hill in all her glory. I have been to Nauvoo three separate occasions since the structure has been in place and my heart takes a leap afresh every time I see this glorious Temple on the hill
A close up view of the southwest corner of the temple reveals some of the details of the steps and the moonstones and the beautiful, meticulous landscaping. I can’t help but think about the early Saints who toiled and strained to build the Nauvoo Temple of yesteryear. I believe similar sacrifices were required of the workers on this temple. According to all with whom I have spoken, this is probably the best-built temple in this dispensation. It feels like the heavens rejoice in the return of this temple.
I wanted you to walk up the steps with me and feel the texture and smoothness of the experience. The Nauvoo Temple stands again. I say it again and again and I weep with joy as I do so. I can feel the invitation of these steps for the faithful to come: “Come, come up to the house of the Lord.
Each of the moonstones has been cut and shaped a little different from each other. At first pass they all look the same unless one looks upon them very carefully. There are thirty each of these large moonstones at the base of the pilasters, thirty sunstones at the top of the pilasters, and thirty starstones just above.
Here you can see ten of the thirty moonstones in a row on the southern exposure of the Temple. This temple is majestic and stately and noble. Though it measures only 90 x 130 feet and has a total square footage of about 54,000 (compared, for example to the Salt Lake Temple which measure 119 x 181 feet and has 253,000 square feet), this temple is unique and bold as it once again crowns the brow of this special hill in Nauvoo.
I wanted to back up and show you the lower stairs at the west entrance of the temple so you could get some perspective. I like the Raymond Clark store (which was the construction office of the temple project) in the background. It gives the authentic look and feel of Nauvoo. When the landscaping folks came in to the temple lot they removed all but two of the trees that had been here for years. It took me a while to get over that, but I realize that many were old and sick and the landscaping had been planned around a hole in the ground, not an edifice jutting into the sky. The subtle and stately landscaping is careful and nearly perfect.
Here is the main entrance into the temple. The doors were hand made by Chuck Allen of Nauvoo (the same main who did all the windows). The light fixtures without are reminiscent of the times. The whole entrance to the temple is so amazingly inviting—and of course, it must be remembered—all of this is according to “the vision” that was given the Prophet Joseph in the early days of Nauvoo.
Here is the southeast corner of the temple—’the point of greatest light,’ as the Prophet Joseph called it. Here, as you can see, is the place where the final ceremonial cornerstone or capstone will be layed to seal the temple. A time capsule of some kind will be placed in the open space that you can see here. President Hinckley has always invited the children to participate in this part of the ceremony so they can tell their children and their children’s children that they were there—and that the word and witness can go down for generation upon generation.
Here you can not only see the moonstone at the southwest corner of the temple, but you can begin to see the intricate cuts on each of the stones for the façade of the temple. When we were talking to the builders of the temple I asked if anything significant had been found in the deep excavation of the temple lot. I was told that there was not much found except they did find one large, lone block of limestone that had been a part of the temple and perfectly preserved the special ‘basket-weave’ pattern for carving the outside temple stones in the original Nauvoo Temple. So, the same pattern was used for all of the stones on the re-built Nauvoo Temple. Yes, that was one significant find. I will show you more detail in a future photo essay.
I will close with this photo looking from “the grove” where Joseph preached. Now, Joseph preached from a number of outdoor groves in Nauvoo but this western grove was perhaps the most famous as from here, just weeks before he would be killed, he preached the now-famous King Follett Discourse before an estimated crowd of nearly 20,000. The temple was not nearly so finished in Joseph’s life—perhaps the walls were up only 9 or 10 feet before Joseph was taken from us—but the vision of Joseph was every bit as evident and bold in his mind as the view of the temple is here and now.