Latter-day Saint Church architects, learning through the experience of building the Endowment House and temples in St. George (1877) and Logan (1884), Utah, realized the necessity of having an annex for the Salt Lake Temple. The purpose of a temple annex is to serve as “a transitory space... a place that is both part of and apart from the temple.” While the temple has had several annexes since the demolition of the original annex in the 1960’s, each has been a place where members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had their recommends checked, changed clothes, waited for temple ceremonies to begin, and entered the temple through a well-lit underground passageway.
While most worshipers entered the temple through the original annex, people attending marriages would come in through the temple’s large wooden doors on the east. Waiting areas for wedding parties were inside the temple. Church leaders who met in the temple to make decisions and administrate the Church, would normally enter through the west doors and ascend to the large priesthood assembly room, to council rooms, or to offices.
The annex’s main assembly room seated 300 patrons and was richly furnished. Stained glass windows imported from the world renown Tiffany Glass Company in NYC and ornate Corinthian columns added to the room’s elegance. A large reproduction of Mihály Munkácsy’s painting, "Christ before Pilate" reminded patrons of the idea that they were about to enter “The House of the Lord.”
The annex was designed by the son of Brigham Young, Don Carlos Young. Construction began in 1892 and was completed a year later, just one day before the dedication of the temple. Built in an Byzantinian style out of bright oolite limestone blocks, the annex was just as eclectic as the temple.
During renovations in 1937, wings were built on either side of the original structure and a new entrance was created. At the same time, some ornamental features were removed. In the early 1950’s a small addition was made to the north side of the entrance.
By the early 1960’s more space was needed to accommodate temple patrons. The original annex was demolished and a new, much larger annex was built in its place.