The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced the Palmyra, New York temple would be built in February 1999. When this announcement was made, the members knew this was going to be different than any other temple.
The Palmyra Temple is built on the old Smith farm, where the first prophet, Joseph Smith grew up. Not only is this location where Joseph Smith lived but it is also the location where the ”First Vision” happened, making this place a sacred and special place for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The Palmyra Temple is a smaller temple and some things were done to make this temple distinct from other temples. One of the main things that makes the Palmyra Temple different is the stained glass windows. These windows are something you do not want to miss! The beauty, the work and the time that went into each of these windows is incredible.
For this 17,000 piece project The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints commissioned Tom and Gayle Holdman from Holdman Studios. All 12, of Tom and Gayles employees, worked full time on these windows for four months, creating 108 windows for the Palmyra Temple. Normally a project of this size would take the artist over a year to create, it was simply a miracle that it was finished in such a short period of time.
Gayle and Tom describe the project as ”tender and wonderful” because these windows were the very first project that they did for their own faith. Gayle and Tom also loved this project because of the nature of the assignment, depicting the restoration of the gospel, it was very special.
Gayle and Tom did take on this assignment like any other assignment, they made it a matter of sincere prayer to know what God would have them do with this assignment. Tom said when he prayed about about how he should do the windows, ”my mind was flooded with an image of all 108 windows of the temple filled with stained glass trees.”
Each of the windows depict the “First Vision.” Tom and Gayle said they wanted these windows to bring the wonder of Joseph Smiths experiece to the people that serve in that building. They also wanted the windows to represent that each person can have their own sacred experience and receive their own witness that the gospel has been restored.
There is an octagon stain-glass window above the baptistry that gives the viewer the impressing of being in the grove of trees looking up into heaven. With blues in the middle, and yellows on the side, representing the light breaking through the trees.
Tom said toward the end of the project “I did not want to and could not stop working.”
When Tom and Gayle Holdman went to the dedication of the Palmyra Temple there were many people complimenting them on the great job they did on the beautiful windows, but Brother Holdman was more thrilled with the whisperings of the spirit that he felt that day. Brother Holdman said ”the spirit whispering acceptance of the work was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.”