The new Provo City Center Temple pays affectionate homage to the Provo Tabernacle — the burned-out pioneer-era structure from which it emerged — and in nowise is this more clearly reflected than in the stained-glass windows that grace it.
Perhaps it is fitting, then, that Glass Images & Creations Inc., the contractor that restored the deteriorating stained-glass (or art-glass) windows in the tabernacle back in the 1990s was the one chosen to construct the windows in the new temple.
“We were really happy we got the job,” said company owner Jerry Lynn in a Church News interview. “It’s actually the temple that I’m going to go to when it’s dedicated. I live in Springville, so it’s my temple.”
His grandmother, Reva Lynn, had her high school graduation in the tabernacle, and it was where his family attended stake conferences while he was growing up. “So the roots kind of run deep with us,” he said.
Andrew Kosorok, special projects manager with the company, said the restoration for the tabernacle windows involved stripping all the lead from the original windows, constructed in 1917-18.
“The lead was extremely deteriorated due to the coal-fire heating system,” he said. “We were going to work on all the 190 or so panes, but the Church only had us finish restoring about 140 or so panes because they needed to use the building a little sooner than expected.”
Then the fire of Dec. 17, 2010, gutted the structure, bringing heartbreak to thousands of community residents. Eighty of the art-glass windows survived the fire but were not used in the eventual construction of the temple, Brother Lynn said.
His father, Dave, had been deeply involved in the restoration of the tabernacle windows. In a poignant moment, as he watched the tabernacle burn, the city fire chief came to him and apologized that it would be necessary to “blow the windows” in order to fight the fire on the interior. “It was sad not knowing what would happen to the windows,” he said, “so we were really happy when we got to do [the window reconstruction] again.”
Brother Kosorok said the new temple design includes he original tower, “and with all the interior rooms, we are building 449 units — that’s about 250 units, more than twice the number, than were in the original building. All in all, there are 42,084 individually cut glass for all the windows, using 35 different colors.”
Glass was cut, Brother Lynn said, from sheets, some of which came from Kokomo Opalescent Glass Co. in Indiana, which stems AAfrom the 19th century and manufactures the sheets in the same way they did back then. He said it was the manufacturer used by famed stained-glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany who worked in the late 1800s.
“We used 5 ½ miles of lead,” Brother Lynn said, which would cover twice the distance between the new temple and the older Provo Utah Temple located east of the Missionary Training Center.
The glass cutting and assembly is all done by hand, he said. “We don’t have any special machinery; it’s kind of done the old-fashioned way, like the pioneers would have done it.”
Images in the art glass were designed by the architects for the temple, replicated from the original windows.
“When we started receiving the drawings from the architect’s office, I was asked to go through and ‘tweak’ the patterns so they were more historically appropriate to the original designs,” Brother Kosorok said. “This was something of a challenge in some cases since many of the windows for the temple never were in the original building, the Bridal Room and Celestial Room ceilings for example.
A time-lapse video of construction of one of the windows may be viewed at this Internet link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGLBo02IvSM
Attendees at the open house tours now going on at the temple maybe interested to note what is perhaps the most prominent of the stained-glass works, the “Holiness to the Lord” design on the transom over the south entry way.
Brother Lynn said, “The designs are pretty much the same as in the tabernacle, but we did add a bevel overlay on some of the pieces.”
He said visitors will have to look closely to notice it, but the overlay, “makes them more special, more shining and glistening, as a temple should be.”