This month marks the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the Provo Temple.
On Feb. 9, 1972 the temple was dedicated, allowing thousands the opportunity to live closer to a House of the Lord as opposed to traveling to Salt Lake or Manti to participate in temple work.
Richard Cowan, a church history professor, attended the dedication and said he was thankful for the close location of the temple.
“I remember thinking, ‘a temple is going to be right here,'” Cowan said. “That was a special feeling.”
At the end of the dedication the members joined in the Hosanna Shout and sang “The Spirit of God.”
“Many of us were so moved spiritually that we were choked up and it was hard to sing,” Cowand said.
The spirit continued after the meeting ended. Cowan, who recently wrote and article about the history of the temple, said those watching the dedication from the Marriott Center described the unusual experience of 23,000 people leaving the building in silence.
Kathy Wheeler, originally from Mapleton, was 20 years old when she watched the dedication from the Marriott Center.
“I remember the spirit was so strong and the music was so intense that I couldn’t even hear the notes I was singing,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said she later chose to be married in that temple because she and her husband grew up in the area. She felt honored to finally have a temple so close.
Many years before the dedication, plans began to solidify about building a temple in the Provo area.
Justin Bray, an archivist for the Church History Department, co-authored the Provo temple article with Cowan. He said residents waited in anticipation for a temple because of Brigham Young’s prophesy that one would be built on temple hill.
After an increase in demand in the 1950s, plans moved forward to build the temple.
The architect, Emil Fetzer, designed both the Ogden and Provo temples.
“On a plane to Europe, Fetzer had a vision of what the temple should look like,” Bray said. “He spent the entire flight drawing the design.”
The design was created to be efficient and accommodate large numbers of people. Bray said the six ordinance rooms allow for multiple endowment sessions to take place and a session can begin every 20 minutes.
Cowan said in the first few decades after its dedication, more ordinances were completed here than any other temple.
The statue of Moroni was not added until 2003, but Fetzer included a spire anticipating that one day it would be added.
Students now enjoy a temple that is within walking distance of campus and wait in anticipation of the completion of the second Provo temple.
Cowan and Bray are writing a book about the two Provo temples that is expected to be released around the time of the dedication of the second temple.