Latter-day Saint Sacred Architecture: A Reading List

I have compiled a recommended reading list below as a helpful starting point for designers, researchers, and students interested in learning more about the sacred architecture pertaining to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This list is not meant in any way to be exhaustive and only lists sources that are typically broader in scope to assist the researcher in learning more about the intersection between architecture, culture, theology, ritual, symbols, and myth.

Similar to religious building types found in ancient Judaism, Latter-day Saints have primarily two types of sacred spaces – namely the meetinghouse and the temple. The later is the more sacred of the two building types and is similar to ancient Israel’s temple in sacredness. On the other hand, the meetinghouse accomodates weekly worship services and is similar to the ancient synagogue.

  • Anderson, Paul L. “The Early Twentieth Century Temples.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14, no. 1 (Spring 1981): 9-19.
  • Anderson, Paul L. “Mormon Moderne: Latter-Day Saint Architecture, 1925—1945.” Journal of Mormon History 9 (1982): 71-84.
  • Andrew, Laurel B. The Early Temples of the Mormons: The Architecture of the Millennial Kingdom in the American West. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1978.
  • Bradley, Martha Sonntag. “The Cloning of Mormon Architecture.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14, no. 1 (Spring 1981): 20-31.
  • Brown, Matthew B. The Gate of Heaven: Insights on the Doctrines and Symbols of the Temple. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communication, 1999.
  • Brown, Matthew B., and Paul Thomas Smith. Symbols in Stone: Symbolism on the Early Temples of the Restoration. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 1997.
  • Buerger, David John. The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 2002.
  • Carter, Thomas. Building Zion: The Material World of Mormon Settlement. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
  • Cowan, Richard Olsen. Temples to Dot the Earth. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989.
  • Davies, Douglas James. The Mormon Culture of Salvation: Force, Grace, and Glory. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2000.
  • Faulconer, James E. “The Mormon Temple and Mormon Ritual.” In The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism, edited by Terryl L. Givens and Philip L. Barlow, 196-208. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Flake, Kathleen. “‘Not to Be Riten’: The Mormon Temple Rite as Oral Canon.” Journal of Ritual Studies 9.2 (Summer 1995): 1-21.
  • Gaskill, Alonzo L. Sacred Symbols: Finding Meaning in Rites, Rituals, and Ordinances. Springville, UT: CFI, 2011.
  • Hamilton, C. Mark. Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Hamilton, C. Mark. The Salt Lake Temple: A Monument to a People. 4th ed. Salt Lake City: University Services Corporation, 1983.
  • Hardison, Amy. Understanding the Symbols, Covenants, and Ordinances of the Temple. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2016.
  • Jackson, Richard W. Places of Worship: 150 Years of Latter-Day Saint Architecture. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2003.
  • Leone, Mark P. “The Mormon Temple Experience: A Non-Mormon Look at a Latter-Day Saint’s Most Sacred Ritual.” Sunstone  (May 1985): 4-7.
  • Oman, Richard G. “Exterior Symbolism of the Salt Lake Temple: Reflecting the Faith That Called the Place into Being.” BYU Studies 36, no. 4 (1996-1997): 6-68.
  • Packer, Boyd K. The Holy Temple. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1980.
  • Probert, Josh E. “The Latter-Day Saint Architectural Tradition.” Faith & Form 44, no. 3 (2011): 29-33.
  • Ro, Brandon R. “The House of the Lord: (Re)Interpreting the Latter-Day Saint Temple Morphology.” unpublished B.Arch Thesis, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 2011.
  • Ro, Brandon R. “(Re)Interpreting the Cosmic History of the Mormon Temple Experience: Theological Connections between Jewish and Catholic Sacred Space.” Journal of Comparative Theology 4, no. 1 (June 2013): 21-73. Video presentation:
  • Ro, Brandon R. “Temples as Text: The Swinging Pendulum of Ritual-Architectural Priorities.” Paper presented at the 2019 Mormon History Association Conference – Isolation and Integration, Salt Lake City, UT, June 6-9, 2019. Video presentation:
  • Ro, Brandon R. “What Is a Temple? A Preliminary Assessment of Mormon and Non-Mormon Architectural Perceptions for Designers.” Paper presented at the “Bridges and Byways: Traversing the Mormon Landscape” Sunstone Symposium, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, July 30 – August 2, 2014. Video presentation:
  • Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord: A Study of Holy Sanctuaries, Ancient and Modern. 3rd revised ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1969.