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Truman O. Angell

Question: In 1850 Truman Angell became the Church Architect. What buildings did he design?

Answer: Truman Osborn Angell was born June 5, 1810, in Providence, Rhode Island, the third son of seven children born to James W. Truman and Phebe Morton. Between the ages of 17 and 19, Truman learned the carpenter and joiner’s trade from a local craftsman in the neighborhood of his family home. However, due to problems that his mother had with his father, at age 21 he moved with his mother to China, New York (near her family), where he met and married Polly Johnson.

At age 22 he was introduced to the Church by his sister, who had received a copy of the Book of Mormon from missionary Thomas B. Marsh. In January 1833 Truman was baptized along with his mother, Phebe, and his wife, Polly. The following spring he served a mission for the Church for nine weeks, traveling 500 miles. His mission companion was his cousin Joseph Holbrook (their mothers were sisters).

The following July, he and his wife settled in Lima, New York. In the fall of 1835, they moved to Kirtland, Ohio, and Truman helped build the Kirtland Temple. He was soon ordained a member of the Second Quorum of Seventies and the following spring commenced making arrangements to go on a mission.

During the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, Truman recorded the following in his journal:

“When about midway during the prayer, there was a glorious sensation passed through the house [Kirtland Temple]; and we, having our heads bowed in prayer, felt a sensation very elevating to the soul. At the close of the prayer, F. G. Williams being in the upper east stand—Joseph being in the speaking stand next below—rose and testified that midway during the prayer an holy angel came and seated himself on the stand. When the afternoon meeting assembled, Joseph, feeling very much elated, arose the first thing and said the personage who had appeared in the morning was the Angel Peter come to accept the dedication.”

Truman moved with the Latter Day Saints to Far West, Missouri, and then to Nauvoo, Illinois.

Truman later went on to work on the Nauvoo Temple, having been appointed superintendent of joiner work under church architect William Weeks, carrying out the architect’s designs in the construction of that temple.

After the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple, Truman moved to Iowa. He left his wife behind in Winter Quarters and went on with Brigham Young’s pioneering company, entering the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. Truman then returned to Winter Quarters in the fall of 1847. Three of his children died and were buried in Winter Quarters, and the following year, he moved to the Salt Lake Valley with his sick wife and his remaining two children.

Truman was appointed Church Architect by Brigham Young on January 26, 1850. In this position, he was in charge of the construction of numerous buildings in Utah Territory, including the St. George Temple, and the Salt Lake Temple.

In 1851, Truman polygamously married Susan Eliza Savage, who had been a textile worker in the Lowell, Massachusetts, cotton mills in the early 1840s until she migrated to Salt Lake City after joining the Church. In 1855 he married a third time to Mary Ann Johnson. (Truman Angell’s sister, Mary Ann Truman, married Brigham Young.)

Truman was originally asked to also be in charge of the design and construction of the Manti and Logan Temples, but in consequence of their being about 100 miles distant from him in different directions, they were placed in the care of his two assistants. Truman O. Angell, Jr., supervised the construction of the Logan Temple, and William H. Folsom was responsible for the Manti Temple, while Truman stayed and worked on the Salt Lake Temple. After his son completed the Logan Temple, he assisted his father with work on the Salt Lake Temple

In April 1856, Young asked Truman to leave his family and go to Europe so that he could learn the architectural designs there. After he returned from his mission to Europe, Truman continued to labor on the Salt Lake Temple. From 1861 to 1867, Truman had stepped down as Church Architect due to poor health and was replaced by William Folsom. However, in April 1867, Truman was again sustained by church members as Church Architect.

Even during the time that he was not Church Architect, Truman worked closely with the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. He continued to serve as Church Architect until his death on October 16, 1887, at the age of 77. For more than 35 years he had worked on the Salt Lake Temple. It was said that he knew every stone in its walls. Of Truman, Wendell Ashton wrote: “As long as the Salt Lake Temple stands, there will be a magnificent monument to the patience, skill and dedication of its architect.” Although Truman did not live to see the temple completed in 1890, he was a key mover behind its being built.

A number of Truman’s works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He designed the Salt Lake Temple, the Lion House, the Beehive House, the Utah Territorial Statehouse, the St. George Utah Temple, and other public buildings. Truman’s modifications to the Salt Lake Tabernacle are credited with perfecting the acoustics for which the building is famous.

Truman was buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Source: Wikipedia;; Ensign, September 2011, “Truman O. Angell, Great Lives Remembered.’

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