Details and project renderings have been released regarding the upcoming closure and renovation of the historic Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See renderings of what the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square will look like with these changes here.)
Church President Russell M. Nelson announced the pioneer-era temple will close December 29, 2019, and will remain closed for approximately four years while undergoing a major structural and seismic renovation. The temple is expected to reopen in 2024 with a public open house.
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“This project will enhance, refresh, and beautify the temple and its surrounding grounds,” said President Nelson. “Obsolete systems within the building will be replaced. Safety and seismic concerns will be addressed. Accessibility will be enhanced so that members with limited mobility can be better accommodated.”
The surrounding area on Temple Square and the plaza near the Church Office Building will also be affected as existing buildings are demolished and the area undergoes renovation and restoration. The existing annex and temple addition on the north side, which were built in the 1960s to add needed support facilities and more sealing (marriage) rooms, will be demolished and rebuilt.
“The Salt Lake Temple is the center of Temple Square and the Church headquarters campus,” said Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the Church’s Presiding Bishopric. “New site improvements including multiple entry points will provide better access and views to the temple and through Temple Square. The new landscape will provide a pleasant atmosphere for all who visit Temple Square.”
The renovation of the temple will involve replacing the historic building’s aging mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, as well as a significant seismic upgrade to help the building withstand a large-magnitude earthquake.
“This upgrade will include a base isolation system, which is one of the most effective means of protecting a structure against earthquake forces,” said Brent Roberts, managing director of the Church’s Special Projects Department. “This unique system will preserve the historic footing of the temple. Once complete, it will help protect people, the historic building, and the beautiful interior finishes in the event of an earthquake.”
The installation of the base isolation system will require deep excavations around the historic footings and foundation of the temple and will also require the strengthening of the stone spires and walls.
This project will also include the renovation of part of Temple Square. Portions of the wall around Temple Square will be opened and modified to allow more inviting views and better access to temple grounds. The existing South Visitors’ Center will be demolished and replaced with two new guest and visitor pavilions.
Following the renovation, temple patrons and guests will enter the temple through the new entry pavilions to the north and proceed down to a grand hall. The formal temple entry point (recommend desk) will sit underneath large skylights that will provide natural light and generous views of the temple above. Patrons will then proceed down the grand hall to the historic temple.
For temple patrons who enter from the Conference Center parking area, a new guest access tunnel will be built under North Temple Street that will allow for direct underground entry to the grand hall from the parking structure.
Construction of the Salt Lake Temple began in 1853 under the direction of Church President Brigham Young. The temple was dedicated 40 years later by Church President Wilford Woodruff on April 6, 1893. The temple has been renovated many times since its original dedication. The most extensive renovation took place from 1962 to 1966, during which new plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems were installed. An addition for sealing rooms was added to the north side of the temple, and the original temple annex was demolished with a new, larger annex constructed.
President Nelson spoke about the Salt Lake Temple renovation project in general conference on April 7, 2019. He said, “Efforts will be made to preserve the unique historicity of each temple wherever possible, preserving the inspiring beauty and unique craftsmanship of generations long-since passed.”
During the renovation, the Church will closely coordinate pedestrian and vehicle traffic issues with Salt Lake City. It is expected that the North Visitors’ Center, Tabernacle and Assembly Hall will remain open to the public during construction. Tours by missionaries from the Temple Square Mission will continue to be available for guests during construction.
“We will work diligently to maintain the regular functions of surrounding facilities and activities during our construction activities,” said Roberts. “We look forward to our continued coordination with Salt Lake City and many associated departments of Church headquarters in this historic renovation.”
Other Temple Square attractions that will be accessible to visitors during the temple renovation include the Family History Library, Church History Museum, Church History Library, Conference Center, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Lion House and Beehive House.
“We promise that you will love the results,” said President Nelson. “They will emphasize and highlight the life, ministry, and mission of Jesus Christ in His desire to bless every nation, kindred, tongue and people.”