One difficulty in creating this model was that historical evidence was either badly damaged, or inconsistent. None of the paintings from early artists nor models from contemporary draftsmen depicted the structural proportions accurately according to details revealed in these photographic documentations. Each had its own interpretation of how the Nauvoo Temple actually looked.
The Sun stone replicas were created with a foam core and spackle covering. Details were sculpted through both an additive and a subtractive process. A rubber-like mold was poured around the model. Later, thirteen plaster of Paris casts were made.
Twelve windows were constructed of wooden and eighth-inch tempered glass panes for special fire effects. These twelve of the 49 windows constructed were to have "controlled" fires behind them. The glass was to blow out by an electrically detonated blasting cap and the flames would after exit igniting the wooden panes on fire. The process was tedious--typical of detailed model building, but these considerations were made to ensure an illusion on film of a large building on fire.
For the burning of the roof, scale rafters needed to be constructed. Solid sheets of plywood or other kind of board covering would not "burn" in the same manner as a real roof made of rafters, planks and shingles.
The script called for a wide, silhouette, nighttime shot of the Nauvoo Temple on fire. This demand required minimal detailing on the model itself. However, experience in film editing gave support to the need for extra detail work; the more variations the cinematographer could effectively shoot, the better quality material the editor would have to cut in and out from. The final outcome would carry a more believable picture to the screen.
The tower was constructed separate from the main building and later assembled on location just prior to the shoot. Sixteen feet to the top of the spire made this entire structure large and cumbersome to assemble and more into position on the set.
Particle board was used for the walls. It proved to be more fire resistant; the original Temple was made of stone. It also gave a stone-like texture to the surface after it was painted.
Camera point of view would take the front/side views only. Two sides of the Temple were constructed.
The Model was carried by forklift and then set upon scaffolding about six feet above the ground. This elevation provided a more comfortable "ground level" point of view for the cameramen but was a somewhat difficult task for special effects crews.
Here is an actual photo of the completed Model:
A stormy sky added drama to the scene. Background foliage is living trees positioned in frame to appear in perspective to the "60 feet high" eves of the Temple.
Camera crews set up shots with five cameras running film at various high speeds for slow motion effects (i.e. camera speed at 120 frames per second played back at sound speed--24 frames per second).