X MARKS THE SPOT
STAR-BULLETIN / 2004
Royal Palms and new stone walls line Hale Laa Boulevard, the road that leads to the Mormon Temple in Laie.
Mormon temple a Laie landmark since 1919
In 1865, the Mormon War was recent history to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and although Brigham Young declared "This is the place" when the group began to settle in Utah, proselytizing feelers were sent out across the Pacific. A 6,000-acre plantation on Laie was purchased as a possible future "place of gathering," and a temple erected on 11 acres, facing the ocean and the northeast tradewinds.
The Laie temple is similar in design to another LDS temple in Cardston, Alberta. One of the favorite stories spun about construction of the temple was that the carpenters simply ran out of wood. Everybody prayed, and sure enough, a ship ran aground just off the coast and the skipper jettisoned his cargo. You guessed it -- enough lumber to finish the construction.
The current temple -- a gleaming, imposing structure with clear references to both Mediterranean architecture and Hollywood set design -- was completed in 1919 with exquisite craftsmanship and carefully manicured grounds. As a place of worship, it is a sacred structure where Mormons serve the tenets of their religion, and not showed off as a tourist attraction. Unlike the tremendous arched naves in Honolulu's cathedrals, the interior of the Mormon Temple (which is smaller than it appears from the highway) is broken up into several rooms. Mormons generally wear white while in the structure as a sign of respect.
There are occasional open houses for curious visitors, but they are rare. Neighborhood Mormon churches, or "meetinghouses," on the other hand, are open to all.
"X Marks the Spot"
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