LDS Church Office Building and Plaza
The majestic church office building is Salt Lake City’s tallest structure (twenty-eight floors above ground, three levels below).
The large relief maps on the outside of the building have been purposely distorted. The longitude runs through Jerusalem on the eastern hemisphere and through Palmyra, New York, on the western hemisphere.
Of interest to visitors is the broad sixty-six by the fifteen-foot mural on the east wall of the main lobby, depicting the ascension of Jesus Christ after His Resurrection. The Church History Library and Archives is located on the east side of the main floor area. Two observation decks on the twenty-sixth floor provide a dramatic panoramic view of Temple Square, Salt Lake City, and the surrounding valley and mountains.
The surrounding grounds are covered with beautifully landscaped flower gardens, pools, and statues depicting Latter-day Saint life. The central feature of the plaza to the south of the Church Office Building is a huge fountain with water interplaying in a variety of heights, culminating in one large display rising to a height of fifty-two feet. The view from the west end of the fountain, looking towards the Salt Lake Temple, is a favorite site for newlyweds to have wedding photographs taken. All the water used in the Church Office Building and on the grounds comes from four underground wells connected to a pump system.
Several sculptures grace the plaza. All of them were done by well-known LDS artists, including Avard T. Fairbanks (creator of the world-famous Abraham Lincoln statues, the Winter Quarters memorial in Florence, Nebraska, and the monument commemorating the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood on Temple Square); Dennis Smith (sculptor of most of the Relief Society monuments to womanhood in Nauvoo, Illinois); and Florence Peterson Hansen (who did the statues of Joseph and Emma that are also standing in Nauvoo).
The west wing of the Church Office Building sits on the property where Horace Kimball Whitney and his wife, Helen Mar Kimball, once had a home. The Whitneys were sealed in the Nauvoo Temple just prior to the pioneer exodus. Horace was the son of Newel K. and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, and Helen was the daughter of Heber C. and Vilate Kimball. On June 15, 1850, Horace set type for the first edition of the Deseret News.