John Hamer recently published an excellent post at BCC on the plans for the Strangite temple that was never completed.  It even includes his rendering of what the temple might have looked like and a woodcut of the original plans.

One of the unique aspects of this temple was the outer wall.  It was incorporated into the design of the temple and the wall housed 12 buildings which were for the offices and meetings of various church organizations.  This got me thinking about our own temples and the literal barriers around them.

Growing up I was in the Salt Lake Temple District.  As a small child I don’t remember seeing the temple up close, only from a distance.  This is because there was a rather tall and very solid wall surrounding the temple.  Thus the closer you got to the temple the less you’d be able to see it since the wall was blocking more and more of your view.  This made the temple seem distant and mysterious to me as a child.

Later as I was able to do baptisms for the dead I got to enter the temple.  Or at least I think I did.  Rather than enter the front door of the temple you entered a door in the wall surrounding Temple Square.  In this little building the check your recommend and then you go down some stairs and soon you’re underground in a land of 1970’s decorated tunnels and all sense of direction is lost.  I honestly don’t know if the baptistry is under the temple or under the chapel or where it is.

Getting older still and recieving my endowment in the Salt Lake Temple didn’t relieve my discombobulation.  Again I entered the temple through the outer wall, went through a series of tunnels, and eventually was in the Temple itself, but I couldn’t tell you where I was in the building or which direction I was facing.

The purchase of Main Street and creation of the plaza has helped somewhat in that there is a space where you can look at the temple from pretty close without feeling like you’re loitering on a sidewalk.  Still, it would be nice to be able to enter the temple by the front door, rather than feeling like you’re sneaking in through a cave.  Honestly the symbolism is atrocious, a real travesty.  Whereas the walls of the Strangite temple served a well thought out purpose, it seems that the walls (and tunnels) of the Salt Lake Temple take away from the experience and put an unnecessary distance between the temple and both members and non-members.

Anybody know when the wall went up at the Salt Lake Temple, when they started making you enter from underground, or if there are other temples with entrances that are less than straightforward?