As the first temple built in the West and the first temple since Nauvoo, the St. George Utah Temple was well-looked forward to by the Saints.
However, even after its dedication, it appeared the temple was not quite finished.
With construction on the Salt Lake City Temple taking decades combined with the restlessness of the Saints in Southern Utah as they faced harsh weather conditions, famine, and troubling times, the announcement of a temple in St. George, Utah, was met with much excitement.
President Erastus Snow, who was present at the meeting where President Brigham Young proposed the temple on January 31, 1871, exclaimed “Glory!” “Hallelujah!” at the thought of having another temple, according to wchsutah.org.
For the next six years, work progressed on the temple, thanks to the enthusiasm of the Saints as they threw themselves into the arduous work of pounding lava rock for part of the foundation, constructing a lumber mill, transporting red sandstone for the temple walls, and many other tasks.
The Saints were simply ecstatic about their new temple and could not wait for it to be completed. Before the entire temple was dedicated in April 1877, there had already been baptisms in the temple, according to wchsutah.org, as the baptismal font and lower floor of the temple had been dedicated in January 1877 by Wilford Woodruff.
However, as the temple neared its dedication date, there was one issue left unresolved. President Young was not satisfied with the way the steeple of the temple looked. He felt its appearance was too short and that it should be heightened. However, heightening the steeple would only lead to more construction, and the members declined to delay the dedication date.
Though it was no secret President Young did not agree, the temple was left as it was and dedicated on time. This was fortunate because had the construction on the temple continued, President Young likely would not have seen the completed temple before he passed away a few months later.
Happy to finally have a temple in the West, the Saints enjoyed using the St. George temple as it was until October 1878 when a severe thunderstorm rumbled through St. George. During the storm, lightning struck the tower, completely destroying it but damaging no other part of the temple.
After realizing the steeple would have to be completely rebuilt, the Saints decided to honor President Young’s wish to heighten the steeple, lending it “a more majestic appearance,” according to an article from stgeorgetemplevisitorscenter.info.
Even though President Young’s wishes for the temple could not be completed during his lifetime, they were shortly after his death.