Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America
The Kirtland Temple was the ﬁrst temple
erected in this dispensation and the revelation to
build it was given in the spring of 1833. It was
constructed through great sacriﬁce to the Saints.
Eliza R. Snow described their arduous efforts as
“With very little capital except brain, bone and
sinew, combined with unwavering trust in God,
men, women, and even children, worked with
their might; while the brethren labored in their
departments, the sisters were actively engaged in
boarding and clothing workmen not otherwise
provided for—all living as abstemiously as pos-
sible so that every cent might be appropriated
The Kirtland Temple
to the grand object, while their energies were Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
stimulated by the prospect of participating in Prints & Photographs Division
the blessing of a house built by the direction of
the Most High and accepted by him.” 1 including the singing of W. W. Phelps’ hymn, “The
Spirit of God,” the performance of the Hosanna
The First Presidency of the Church, Jo- Shout, and pentecostal manifestations, and angelic
seph Smith, Jr., Fredrick G. Williams, and Sidney visitations.
Rigdon, saw the ﬁnished temple in vision to help One week after the dedication, the Lord Je-
direct plans for this sacred ediﬁce. Fredrick G. Wil- sus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver
liams described the experience as follows: Cowdery “standing upon the breastwork of the
pulpit,” and accepted the Kirtland Temple.3 After
“Joseph received the word of the Lord for him the appearance of the Savior, other heavenly be-
to take his two counselors, [Frederick G.] Wil- ings appeared to Joseph & Oliver including Mo-
liams and [Sidney] Rigdon, and come before ses, Elias, and Elijah, each committing the keys of
the Lord and He would show them the plan or their respective dispensation unto them.4
model of the house to be built. We went upon Two years later, with the collapse of the
our knees, called on the Lord, and the build- Kirtland Safety Society, Joseph was forced to leave
ing appeared within viewing distance. I being Kirtland, and eventually control of the temple was
the ﬁrst to discover it. Then all of us viewed it lost. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of
together. After we had taken a good look at the Latter-day Saints, now known as the Community
exterior, the building seemed to come right over of Christ, obtained ownership of the Temple in
us, and the makeup of this hall seemed to coin- 1880, restored it, and currently provides tours of
cide with what I there saw to a minutia.” 2 this magniﬁcent building.
The construction of the temple began on SOURCES
June 5, 1833, and was dedicated on March 27,1836. 1 Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom (New York: Tul-
Many signiﬁcant events occurred at the dedication
2 Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America
lidge & Crandall, 1877), 82. an angel appeared and sat near President Joseph
2 Truman Angell, Autobiography, Our Pioneer Heritage, Writings of Smith, Sen., and Frederick G. Williams, so that
Early Latter-day Saints, 198. they had a fair view of his person. He was a very
3 Doctrine & Covenants 110:2-6.
tall personage, black eyes, white hair, and stoop
shouldered; his garment was whole, extending to
4 See Doctrine & Covenants 110. near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals. He was
sent as a messenger to accept of the dedication...
While these things were being attended to the be-
loved disciple John was seen in our midst by the
Events at the Dedication of the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and others.”3
George A. Smith
“There were great manifestations of power,
Joseph Smith, Jr. such as speaking in tongues, seeing visions, admin-
“Brother George A. Smith arose and began istration of angels. Many individuals bore testimo-
to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound ny that they saw angels, and David Whitmer bore
of a rushing mighty wind, which ﬁlled the Temple, testimony that he saw three angels passing up the
and all the congregation simultaneously arose, be- south aisle, and there came a shock on the house
ing moved upon by an invisible power; many be- like the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and al-
gan to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw most every man in the house arose, and hundreds
glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was ﬁlled of them were speaking in tongues, prophecying or
with angels, which fact I declared to the congrega- declaring visions, almost with one voice.”4
tion. The people of the neighborhood came run-
ning together (hearing an unusual sound within, Eliza R. Snow
and seeing a bright light like a pillar of ﬁre resting “One striking feature of the ceremonies,
upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was the grand shout of hosanna, which was given
was taking place.”1 by the whole assembly, in standing position, with
uplifted hands. The form of the shout is as follows:
Oliver Cowdery ‘Hosanna—hosanna—hosanna—to God and the
“Sunday, the 27th attended on the dedica- Lamb—amen—amen, and amen.’ The foregoing
tion of the Lord’s house. For the particulars of was deliberately and emphatically pronounced,
this great event see my account written by myself, and three times repeated, and with such power as
and printed in the March No. of The Messenger seemed almost sufﬁcient to raise the roof from the
and Advocate, signed C. In the evening I met with building.
the ofﬁcers of the church in the Lord’s house. The A singular incident in connection with this
Spirit was poured out--I saw the glory of God, like shout may be discredited by some, but it is verily
a great cloud, come down and rest upon the house, true. A notice had been circulated that children in
and ﬁll the same like a mighty rushing wind. I also arms would not be admitted at the dedication of
saw cloven tongues, like as of ﬁre rest upon many, the temple. A sister who had come a long distance
(for there were 316 present,) while they spake with with her babe, six weeks old, having, on her arrival,
other tongues and prophesied.”2 heard of the above requisition, went to the patri-
Heber C. Kimball arch Joseph Smith, Sr., in great distress, saying that
“During the ceremonies of the dedication, she knew no one with whom she could leave her
infant; and to be deprived of the privilege of at-
Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America 3
tending the dedication seemed more than she could SOURCES
endure. The ever generous and kind-hearted father
1 Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
volunteered to take the responsibility on himself,
Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt
and told her to take her child, at the same time
Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
giving the mother a promise that her babe should 1932-1951), 2: 428.
make no disturbance; and the promise was veri- 2 Leonard J. Arrington, “Oliver Cowdery’s Kirtland Ohio ‘Sketch
ﬁed. But when the congregation shouted hosanna,
Book,’” BYU Studies, (Summer 1972).
that babe joined in the shout. As marvelous as that
incident may appear to many, it is not more so than 3 Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book
other occurrences on that occasion Depot, 1854-1886), 9: 376.
The ceremonies of that dedication may be 4 Ibid, 11: 10.
rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the
5 Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom (New York: Tul-
heavenly manifestations of that memorable day.
lidge & Crandall, 1877), 95.
Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine
presence was realized by all present, and each heart 6 Benjamin Brown, “Testimony for the Truth,” Gems for the Young
was ﬁlled with ‘joy inexpressible and full of glo- Folks (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Ofﬁce, 1881), 65.
ry.’”5 7 Truman Angell, Autobiography, Our Pioneer Heritage, Writings of
Early Latter-day Saints, 198.
“There the Spirit of the Lord, as on the day
of Pentecost, was profusely poured out. Hundreds
of Elders spoke in tongues…we had a most glori- Eliza R. Snow’s Description of
ous and never-to-be-forgotten time. Angels were the Kirtland Temple1
seen by numbers present… It was also at this time
that Elijah the Prophet appeared, and conferred
upon Joseph the keys of turning the hearts of the
fathers to the children, previous to the re-institu- “The erection of the Kirtland temple was
tion of the ordinance of baptism for the dead.”6 a leading characteristic of the work of the last dis-
Truman Angell It was commenced in June, 1833, under the
“When about midway during the prayer, immediate direction of the Almighty, through his
there was a glorious sensation passed through the servant, Joseph Smith, whom he had called in his
house [Kirtland Temple]; and we, having our heads boyhood, like Samuel of old, to introduce the full-
bowed in prayer, felt a sensation very elevating to ness of the everlasting gospel.
the soul. At the close of the prayer, F. [Frederick] At that time the saints were few in num-
G. Williams being in the upper east stand- -Joseph ber, and most of them very poor; and, had it not
being in the speaking stand next below--rose and been for the assurance that God had spoken, and
testiﬁed that midway during the prayer an holy an- had commanded that a house should be built to
gel came and seated himself in the stand. When his name, of which he not only revealed the form,
the afternoon meeting assembled, Joseph, feeling but also designated the dimensions, an attempt to-
very much elated, arose the ﬁrst thing and said the wards building that temple, under the then existing
personage who had appeared in the morning was circumstances, would have been, by all concerned,
the Angel Peter come to accept the dedication.”7 pronounced preposterous.
Although many sections of the world
4 Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America
abounded with mosques, churches, synagogues and equal sections—giving to each one-half of one set
cathedrals, built professedly for worship, this was of pulpits.
the ﬁrst instance, for the lapse of many centuries, From the day the ground was broken for
of God having given a pattern, from the heavens, laying the foundation for the temple, until its dedi-
and manifested by direct revelation how the ediﬁce cation on the 27th of March, 1836, the work was
should be constructed, in order that he might ac- vigorously prosecuted.
cept and acknowledge it as his own. With very little capital except brain, bone
This knowledge inspired the saints to al- and sinew, combined with unwavering trust in God,
most superhuman efforts, while through faith and men, women, and even children, worked with their
union they acquired strength. In comparison with might; while the brethren labored in their depart-
eastern churches and cathedrals, this temple is not ments, the sisters were actively engaged in board-
large, but in view of the amount of available means ing and clothing workmen not otherwise provided
possessed, a calculation of the cost, at the lowest for—all living as abstemiously as possible so that
possible ﬁgures, would have staggered the faith of every cent might be appropriated to the grand ob-
any but Latter-day saints; and it now stands as a ject, while their energies were stimulated by the
monumental pillar. prospect of participating in the blessing of a house
Its dimensions are eighty by ﬁfty-nine feet; built by the direction of the Most High and ac-
the walls ﬁfty feet high, and the tower one hundred cepted by him.
and ten feet. The two main halls are ﬁfty-ﬁve by The dedication was looked forward to with
sixty-ﬁve feet, in the inner court. The building has intense interest; and when the day arrived (Sunday,
four vestries in front, and ﬁve rooms in the attic, March 27th, 1836), a dense multitude assembled—
which were devoted to literature, and for meetings the temple was ﬁlled to its utmost, and when the
of the various quorums of the priesthood. ushers were compelled to close the doors, the out-
There was a peculiarity in the arrangement side congregation was nearly if not quite as large as
of the inner court which made it more than or- that within.
dinarily impressive—so much so that a sense of Four hundred and sixteen elders, including
sacred awe seemed to rest upon all who entered; prophets and apostles, with the ﬁrst great proph-
not only the saints, but strangers also manifested ets of the last dispensation at their head, were
a high degree of reverential feeling. Four pulpits present—men who had been ‘called of God as
stood, one above another, in the centre of the was Aaron,’ and clothed with the holy priesthood;
building, from north to south, both on the east and many of them having just returned from missions,
west ends; those on the west for the presiding of- on which they had gone forth like the ancient dis-
ﬁcers of the Melchisidec priesthood, and those on ciples, ‘without purse or scrip,’ now to feast for a
the east for the Aaronic; and each of these pulpits little season on the sweet spirit of love and union,
was separated by curtains of white painted canvas, in the midst of those who had ‘tasted of the pow-
which were let down and drawn up at pleasure. In ers of the world to come.’
front of each of these two rows of pulpits, was At the hour appointed, the assembly was
a sacrament table, for the administration of that seated, the Melchisidec and Aaronic priesthoods
sacred ordinance. being arranged as follows: West end of the house,
In each corner of the court was an elevated Presidents Frederick G. Williams, Joseph Smith,
pew for the singers—the choir being distributed Sr., and William W. Phelps, occupied the ﬁrst pulpit
into four compartments. In addition to the pulpit for the Melchisidec priesthood; Presidents Joseph
curtains, were others, intersecting at right angles, Smith, Jr., Hyrum Smith and Sidney Rigdon, the
which divided the main ground-ﬂoor hall into four second; Presidents David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdry
Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America 5
and John Whitmer, the third; the fourth pulpit was a prophesy, when the foundation was laid, that the
occupied by the president of the high-priest’s quo- walls should never be erected.
rum and his councilors, and two choristers. In reference to his main subject, the speak-
The twelve apostles were on the right, in er assumed that in the days of the Saviour there
the highest three seats; the president of the elders, were synagogues where the Jews worshipped God;
his two councilors and clerk in the seat directly and in addition to those, the splendid temple in Je-
below the twelve. The High Council of Kirtland, rusalem; yet when, on a certain occasion, one pro-
consisting of twelve, were on the left, on the ﬁrst posed to follow him, withersoever he went, though
three seats. The fourth seat, and next below the heir of all things, he cried out in bitterness of soul,
High Council, was occupied by Warren A. Cowdry ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have
and Warren Parrish, who ofﬁciated as scribes. holes, and the birds of the air have ‘nests, but the
In the east end of the house, the Bishop of Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.’
Kirtland—Newel K. Whitney—and his councilors From this the speaker drew the conclusion
occupied the ﬁrst pulpit for the Aaronic priesthood; that the Most High did not put his name there, nei-
the Bishop of Zion—Edward Partridge—and his ther did he accept the worship of those who paid
councilors, the second; the President of the priests their vows and adorations there. This was evident
and his councilors, the third; the President of the from the fact that they did not receive the Saviour,
teachers, and his councilors, and one chorister, the but thrust him from them, saying, ‘Away with him!
fourth; the High Council of Zion, consisting of Crucify him! Crucify him!’ It was therefore evident
twelve councilors, on the right; the President of that his spirit did not dwell in them. They were the
the deacons, and his councilors, in the next seat degenerate sons of noble sires, but they had long
below them, and the seven presidents of the sev- since slain the prophets and seers, through whom
enties, on the left. the Lord had revealed himself to the children of
At nine o’clock, President Sidney Rigdon men. They were not led by revelation.
commenced the services of that great and memo- This, said the speaker, was the grand dif-
rable day, by reading the ninety-sixth and twenty- ﬁculty—their unbelief in present revelation. He
fourth Psalms; “Ere long the vail will be rent in then clearly demonstrated the fact that diversity of,
twain,” etc., was sung by the choir, and after Presi- and contradictory opinions did, and would prevail
dent Rigdon had addressed the throne of grace in among people not led by present revelation; which
fervent prayer, “O happy souls who pray,” etc., was forcibly applies to the various religious sects of our
sung. President Rigdon then read the eighteenth, own day; and inasmuch as they manifest the same
nineteenth, and twentieth verses of the eighteenth spirit, they must be under the same condemnation
chapter of Matthew, and spoke more particular- with those who were coeval with the Saviour.
ly from the last-named verse, continuing his elo- He admitted there were many houses—
quent, logical and sublime discourse for two and a many sufﬁciently large, built for the worship of
half hours. God, but not one, except this, on the face of the
At one point, as he reviewed the toils and whole earth, that was built by divine revelation;
privations of those who had labored in rearing the and were it not for this, the dear Redeemer might,
walls of that sacred ediﬁce, he drew tears from in this day of science, intelligence and religion, say
many eyes, saying, there were those who had wet to those who would follow him, “The foxes have
those walls with their tears, when, in the silent holes, the birds of the”air have nests, but the Son
shades of the night, they were praying to the God of Man hath not where ‘to lay his head.’
of heaven to protect them, and stay the unhal- After the close of his discourse, President
lowed hands of ruthless spoilers, who had uttered Rigdon presented for an expression of their faith
6 Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America
and conﬁdence, Joseph Smith, Jr., as prophet, seer sion and of the ministration of angels, and, after
and revelator, to the various quorums, and the testimonials and exhortations by other elders, he
whole congregation of saints, and a simultaneous blest the congregation in the name of the Lord.
rising up followed, in token of unanimous con- Thus ended the ceremonies of the dedica-
ﬁdence, and covenant to uphold him as such, by tion of the ﬁrst temple built by special command
their faith and prayers. of the Most High, in this dispensation.”
The morning services were concluded by
the choir singing, ‘Now let us rejoice in the day of SOURCES
salvation,’ etc. During an intermission of twenty
1 Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom (New York: Tul-
minutes, the congregation remained seated, and
lidge & Crandall, 1877), 80-95.
the afternoon services opened by singing, ‘This
earth was once a garden place,’ etc. President Jo-
seph Smith, Jr., addressed the assembly for a few
moments, and then presented the ﬁrst presidency Heber C. Kimball’s Description of
of the church as prophets, seers, and revelators, Building the Kirtland Temple1
and called upon all who felt to acknowledge them
as such, to manifest it by rising up. All arose.
He then presented the twelve apostles who
were present, as prophets, seers, and revelators, “Our women were engaged in knitting and
and special witnesses to all the earth, holding the spinning, in order to clothe those who were labor-
keys of the kingdom of God, to unlock it, or cause ing at the building; and the Lord only knows the
it to be done among them; to which all assented scenes of poverty, tribulation and distress which
by rising to their feet. He then presented the other we passed through to accomplish it. My wife had
quorums in their order, and the vote was unani- toiled all summer in lending her aid towards its
mous in every instance. accomplishment. She took a hundred pounds of
He then prophesied to all, that inasmuch wool to spin on shares, which, with the assistance
as they would uphold these men in their several of a girl, she spun, in order to furnish clothing for
stations (alluding to the different quorums in the those engaged in building the temple; and although
church), the Lord would bless them, ‘yea, in the she had the privilege of keeping half the quantity
name of Christ, the blessings of heaven shall be of wool for herself, as a recompense for her labor,
yours; and when the Lord’s anointed shall go forth she did not reserve even so much as would make
to proclaim the word, bearing testimony to this a pair of stockings, but gave it for those who were
generation, if they receive it they shall be blest; laboring at the house of the Lord. She spun and
but if not, the judgments of God will follow close wove, and got the cloth dressed and cut and made
upon them, until that city or that house which re- up into garments, and gave them to the laborers
jects them, shall be left desolate.’ on the temple. Almost all the sisters in Kirtland
The hymn commencing with “How pleased labored in knitting, sewing, spinning, etc., for the
and blest was I,” was sung, and the following same purpose; while we went up to Missouri to en-
dedicatory prayer offered by the prophet, Joseph deavor to reinstate our brethren on the lands from
Smith... which they had been driven.
The choir then sang, “The spirit of God like Elder Rigdon, when addressing the brethren
a ﬁre is burning,” etc., after which the Lord’s sup- upon the importance of building this house, spake
per was administered to the whole assembly. Then to this effect: That we should use every effort to
President Joseph Smith bore testimony of his mis- accomplish this building by the time appointed; if
Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America 7
we did the Lord would accept it at our hands; and • Sunday
on it depends the salvation of the Church, and also • 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
of the world. Looking at the sufferings and pov-
erty of the Church, he frequently went upon the November - December
walls of the building, both by night and day, and • Monday through Saturday
wept, crying aloud to the Almighty to send means • 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
whereby we might accomplish the building. • Sunday
After we returned from our journey to the • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
West, the whole Church united in this great under-
taking, and every man lent a helping hand. Those January - February
who had not teams went to work in the stone Only open on Saturday and Sunday
quarry and prepared the stones for drawing to the • Saturday
house. • 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
The Prophet, being our foreman, would put • Sunday
on his tow frock and tow pantaloons and go into • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
the quarry. The Presidency, High Priests and Elders
all alike assisting. Those who had teams assisted in Admission:
drawing the stone to the house. These all labor- $2.00
ing one day in the week, brought as many stones
to the house as supplied the masons through the
whole week. We continued in this manner until the Further Readings Resources
walls of the house were reared. The committee
who were appointed by revelation to superintend
the building were Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon
and Jared Carter. They used every exertion in their Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland: Eye-
power to forward the work.” witness Accounts, 1989.
Milton V. Backman, Jr., “Establish a House of
SOURCES Prayer, a House of God: The Kirtland Temple,”
1 Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: The Prophet Joseph, ed. Larry C. Porter and Susan
Kimball Family, 1888), 68 - 69. Easton Black, 1988.
A. F. Bennett, “The Kirtland Temple,” Utah Ge-
neological and Historical Magazine, 1936.
Visitor Information Janet Brigham, “Kirtland Today: History with a
Future,” Ensign, (Feb. 1979), 50.
Lyndon W. Cook, “The Apostle Peter and the
Kirtland Temple,” BYU Studies, 1975.
Richard O. Cowan, “The House of the Lord
9020 Chillicothe Road
in Kirtland: A ‘Preliminary Temple’”, Regional
Kirtland, Ohio 44094
Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Ohio, ed.
Milton V. Backman, Jr., 1990.
Hours of Operation:
B. Fillmore, “Story of the Church: Kirtland, A
March - October
Temple Erected,” Improvement Era, 1964.
• Monday through Saturday
M. P. S. Hitchcock, “Joseph Smith and the
• 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8 Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, Ohio, United States of America
Kirtland Temple,” Lake County Historical Society
Keith W. Perkins, “Kirtland Temple,” Encyclopedia
of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow et al., 1992.
Lauritz G. Peterson, “The Kirtland Temple,”
BYU Studies, 1972.
Stephen D. Ricks, “The Appearance of Elijah
and Moses in the Kirtland Temple at the Jewish
Passover,” BYU Studies, 1983.
Albert L. Zobell, Jr., “The Lord’s House at Kirt-
land,” Improvement Era, 1961.