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Big Changes Ahead For Salt Lake Temple And Square During 4-year Renovation

Photo of LDS Church press conference.
Daysha Eaton / KUER
The South Visitor's Center at Temple Square where President Russel M. Nelson and other church leadership announcement was made on Friday, April 19 is also slated to be demolished, relocated and rebuilt.

Against the backdrop of Temple Square in full bloom, officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Friday unveiled an ambitious four-year plan to renovate the 126-year-old Salt Lake Temple, which hasn’t had a major update since the 1960s.

Church President Russell M. Nelson said the changes will provide better views for visitors and better access to the iconic granite temple, originally built in 1893.

“Soon, the surrounding grounds will be restored to resemble conditions that existed when the temple was first constructed,” said Nelson.

Church officials plan big changes, including: updating safety and seismic conditions, modernizing aging mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and making the Temple more accessible for disabled people. The existing annex and temple addition on the north side also will be demolished and rebuilt.

Photo of Temple Square.
Credit Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Representatives from the Church said that the renovations will restore Temple Square to its earliest configurations. The square is pictured here in 1930.

Bishop Dean M. Davies, First Counselor to the Presiding Bishopric of the Church said: “This is the savior’s house. This is his church and we will make every effort to introduce some new thematic elements that will help visitors to Salt Lake. We want them to think of Salt Lake just as they think of Jerusalem or of the Vatican, as a place where Christianity really has its heart.”

During construction, the project will limit public access to parts of Temple Square. The plaza near the Church Office Building will also be affected.

The apostles and first presidency will hold their weekly prayer meetings next door in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building during the renovation. Weddings at the Salt Lake Temple will be on hold during the renovation. Church members will be able to be sealed in other temples around the state. Officials assured the public that, although they’ll be limited, visitors can count on Temple Square Christmas lights to continue despite the construction.

The Temple is scheduled to close Dec 29, 2019 and reopen in 2024 with a rare public open house.

Daysha Eaton reports about religion and cultural issues, including social justice, for KUER.
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