Temple draws faithful to Glenview
Elder Joseph T. Hicken of Wilmette stands outside the entrance to the Chicago Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Glenview which was erected in 1985. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 24, 2012 6:13AM
GLENVIEW — On warm afternoons, people often stand on West Lake Avenue in Glenview, having photographs taken in front of the regal Chicago Temple, opened by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1985.
Similar to Techny Towers of the Divine Missionaries in Northbrook, the Chicago Temple with its six white spires reaching skyward is to many the most attractive structure in Glenview.
“The building is inspirational by design. The spires and entire temple lifts up to God, hoping to move people in that direction,” said Joseph Hicken, a lifelong Mormon and Chicago Temple member since 1965.
“For us, it’s not so much the bricks, mortar and accoutrements of the building, which is certainly dedicated to honor and integrity,” Hicken said, referring to the stone slate roof and gray buff marble exterior.
“But it’s the individuals of the church we try to sanctify by looking up and beyond from where we’re at right now.”
The temple is the first of the operating temples built in the Midwest and the second Latter-Day temple built in Illinois, following the Nauvoo Temple in 1846.
Among 162 temples located around the world, the one in Glenview was the 15th to be constructed.
“Mormonism has been the fastest growing religion for some time now,” Hicken said.
Temples serve as places to perform sacraments, such as marriage, whereas in churches, like the one in Wilmette, congregants receive religious instruction and hold Sunday school and youth programs.
Atop of the Chicago Temple’s tallest front spire at 112 feet is the statue of Angel Moroni, the last author of the golden plates that Latter Day Saints believe were source materials for the Book of Mormon.
Hicken served as chairman of the committees for the temple’s dedication, cornerstone laying and open house in 1985 when 100,000 visited the building and 13.5-acre campus.
“I would say it was humbly exciting to finally see it fulfilled. The open house was six days,” said Hicken, a private practice orthodontist who also taught at Northwestern University.
The temple has 45,000 to 50,000 members from the Chicago area and Wisconsin.
Non-members are not allowed in temples without an official recognition card issued by a temple official.
The recognitions say you believe the various principals espoused by the church found in scripture,” he said.
“We see all of us as family, all as sons and daughters of the same God, whether it be Allah, Jehovah or others.”
Leland Gray was the senior design architect for The Church of the Latter-Day Saints for 25 years.
In designing Chicago Temple, he said it followed the pattern of only three other temples in Dallas, Boise, Idaho and Frankfort, Germany.
“Yes, the same uplifting look to all of them, but I liked to let people regardless of their faiths figure out what the exteriors were trying to say to them,” Gray said, now in private practice in Portland, Oregon.
He said Chicago Temple’s exterior was constructed with Danby Marble quarried in Rutland County, Vermont, stone that was often used during the Great Depression for federal buildings in Washington, D.C., U.S. post offices and military headstones.
“At Chicago Temple, you’ll see a range of marble colors, and the gray slate roof pieces came from Granville, N.Y. Not a lot of people outside New England tend to use this slate,” he said.
The town of Granville bills itself as the “Colored Slate Capital of the World.”
“For me, there was great satisfaction in working on these buildings that will stand for hundreds of years. The Salt Lake City Mormon Temple went up in the late 1800s. I designed more than 100 temples and too many chapels to recall.”
The Chicago Temple closed Sept. 3, 1988, for remodeling that more than doubled its size, according to the building’s historical website.
The rear central spire and original breezeways between the annex were enclosed, and additional square footage was built underground, largely retaining the exterior appearance of the temple.
The remodel added a fifth ordinance room, large sealing room, cafeteria and maintenance facility.
Enlarged were the laundry, administrative area, and baptistery, which was relocated.
On Christmas Eve 2008, a frozen ceiling sprinkler pipe burst inside the temple, causing extensive water damage.
“An army of craftsmen from as far away as New Mexico replaced all of the carpet, replaced over 2,000 feet of wood trim, and replaced or reupholstered most of the furniture in just two months,” the website states.