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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Sanpete County Residents 'Thrilled' About Manti Temple Mural Preservation And New Ephraim Temple

A photo of the Manti temple.
Lexi Peery
Church leaders announced over the weekend that the Manti temple will be preserved, and a new temple in nearby Ephraim will be built.

New renovation plans for the historic Manti temple will preserve its cherished murals, according to a recent announcement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We have been impressed to modify our earlier plans for the Manti, Utah temple so that the pioneer craftsmanship, artwork and character will be preserved — including the painted murals loved by so many,” President Russell M. Nelson said in a virtual address to residents of the area Saturday.

Some Sanpete County residents and Church members wrote letters and rallied against removing the murals — especially the paintings by Minerva Teichert, a renowned 20th century artist.

Joe Bennion, an artist who lives in Sanpete County, said he was “heartbroken” about the previous renovation plans. Then, Saturday’s announcement came.

“We were blindsided, if that's the word you can use in a good situation,” Bennion said. “I really had written it off.”

Along with preserving the Manti temple, Church leaders also announced that Ephraim will get its own temple, which is just 7 miles north.

Ryan Roos lives in Manti and owns a rare bookstore in Ephraim. He said he — and others in the community — rejoiced when the announcement was made.

“You could just sense the demeanor of the entire community changing in a heartbeat,” Roos said. “It's something that's just we're still experiencing right now, just that euphoria of keeping our historic temple.”

The Manti temple opened in 1888 and is one of four pioneer-era temples in Utah. Teichert’s paintings were added in 1947. The Church announced in March the murals would be removed as part of a multi-year restoration project. Soon after, they said they would work to preserve the paintings and display them outside of the temple.

Roos said it’s also a plus that the new temple will be near Snow College, allowing students to be within walking distance of it. He said he’s also relieved about what this means for the old temple.

“This should effectively end any discussion of expanding the Manti Temple, and those are discussions that have followed her around for at least 50 years,” he said. “The presence of the Ephraim Temple will effectively protect the Manti Temple and her legacy moving forward and just keep her a monument to our pioneers.”

Ann Stucki lives in Sanpete County and is a descendant of the architect of the Manti temple. She said preserving the temple, as well as getting a new one, is the best possible outcome to her.

“I'm thrilled that this could happen and I was just pleasantly surprised that it could happen so quickly too,” Stucki said. “It feels really personal to have that kind of preservation for future generations.”

Renovation on the Manti location will begin Oct. 1, and it’s expected to take 18-24 months. The new Ephraim temple will take around two years to build, after a design and permitting is finished.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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