11. Washington DC Temple
Dedicated 1974 by Spencer W. Kimball
When it was dedicated in 1974, the Washington DC Temple was the only American temple east of the Mormon Corridor. As federal agencies attracted Latter-day Saint families to the DC region, membership grew. The area continues to be the hub of Mormon activity in the eastern United States.
The DC Temple is the tallest temple in the Church at 288 feet. It’s also the only temple outside of Utah to be built with six ordinance rooms, following the rally-round-the-celestial-room design of the Jordan River, Provo, and Ogden Utah temples.
And a last little bit: the temple contains seven floors, which is symbolic by design. Six floors represent the creative periods and the seventh (which is a large assembly room) represents the day of rest.
10. São Paulo Brazil Temple
Dedicated 1978 by Spencer W. Kimball
Thirty-seven years ago, few could have imagined the Church’s explosive growth in Brazil. The São Paulo Temple is the Church’s first temple in South America, but certainly not the last, and as it represents the Church’s ever-swelling membership in South America, it deserves the number ten spot on our list.
President Kimball shocked a regional conference in Brazil when he announced not just that a temple would be built in the country, but even brought out artist’s renderings coupled with the announcement that São Paulo would be the temple’s home.
Brazil, in general, represented a huge turning point for the church when it came to issues of race, as it proved difficult for one to be labeled “black” in a country where most everyone represented an amalgam of races. Formerly stringent standards for priesthood conferral (and later, temple endowments) were slowly loosed in the years leading up to Official Declaration 2.
9. Cardston Alberta Temple
Dedicated 1913 by Joseph F. Smith
This is arguably one of the most gorgeous temples in the Church and it represents a number of firsts:
- First temple in Canada
- First temple outside the US
- First temple designed by outside architects
- First temple without a priesthood assembly room
It’s also one of three temples without any spires (though there was a brief stint where one could have potentially roped the Boston Massachusetts Temple in with that group).
If you ever get a chance to go to Cardston, first, hit up the Dairy Queen and say hi for me. Second, visit this wonderful building.
8. San Diego California Temple
Dedicated 1993 by Gordon B. Hinckley
Alright, full disclosure – I got married here. So I have a bias. But I’ll try and remove that from the discussion.
The San Diego California Temple stands alone – alone in the sense that there’s no other temple that looks like it. Sure, some temples look unique, but they tend to follow general templates and floorplans. There’s no other temple in the Church remotely like San Diego.
Of interesting note, the temple was largely designed by Roman Catholics who had never seen a Mormon temple until they were invited to the Las Vegas Temple open house in 1989.
This could have been ranked higher, but it gets docked points for the weird exit area used for weddings. Seriously, the couples actually leave the giant staircase atrium (the west tower) and then go down a set of utility stairs before exiting a non-descript door that overlooks Interstate 5. It’s weird.
7. Accra Ghana Temple
Dedicated 2004 by Gordon B. Hinckley
Ghana’s temple is not the first temple in Africa. That honor goes to the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, which predates Accra by nearly twenty years.
So why is Accra included in this list and not Joburg? The Johannesburg Temple was built after the 1978 revelation on the priesthood, but much of South Africa and its extant membership stems from a different age and descends from European colonists. There’s no harm in that, but it’s not quite as “African” as Ghana in that sense. (And we recognize this is an extremely simplified view of a very complicated issue.)
We give Accra this rank for being the first temple built in Africa that serves a largely post-1978 population. It’s a very symbolic building in this sense, and the Church’s continued exponential growth in Africa is only a sign of the great things to come.