Back in 1992, scaffolding was erected around the historic Salt Lake Temple. It seemed strange to see the beautiful landmark shrouded under a framework of planks and framed tubing. At first I was worried that the mysterious symbols were being removed. The mainstream LDS had been looking more and more like mainstream Christianity, and I feared that someone in the Mormon hierarchy may have decided that "those symbols just don't seem right anymore".
Fortunately, they weren't removing the symbols, and when I discovered that some of the old granite stones were being replaced, I figured that there must be lots of pieces of granite laying around and being discarded. As a freelance rock hound, in addition to being a chronic accumulator of rare antiquities, I couldn't resist this once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire some of the stones from the original Salt Lake Temple. What a uniquely finite and invaluable thing to possess... a tangible piece of sparkling white granite from what millions of people consider to be one of the most holy edifices on Earth. The House of the Lord.
2"x2"x6" granite shard and 3.5" granite sphere
I found the telephone number for the Salt Lake Temple President* in the US West Direct White Pages. The three-inch-thick phone book contained literally hundreds of listings under Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so it took awhile to narrow down the correct number to dial. The temple president graciously took my call but informed me that there were no stone fragments of any substantial size being removed, and that mostly powder was coming out after all the cutting and sawing.
I thanked the man, but his explanation didn't ring true to me, and I couldn't forget about that granite. I knew that there must be some stones being removed. "It's a lot easier to remove pieces of granite than to reduce an entire granite stone to powder," I reasoned. A few days later, I was spending some time with my father, and told him of my unfruitful conversation with the temple president. Dad perked up and informed me that he knew "head-honchos"* involved with the restoration project, and told me that he'd find out about the stone fragments I was seeking. The next time I saw my dad, he presented me with two large sparkling pieces of granite that exhibited visible blade marks from the powerful saw that had cut them away from the Salt Lake Temple. I had my stones.
In those days, I had a strange looking machine that turned stones into smooth spheres, so I prepared a piece of the invaluable granite, and placed it into the machine where it spent hundreds of hours being refined into a perfect 3.5" sphere. One of a kind, and NOT for sale!
* Names of the temple president who lied to me and the "head honchos" who supplied the stones, are intentionally withheld.