“It’s not easy to modernize a building that’s almost 100 years old,” Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric told Newsroom. But 94 years after it was first dedicated, and following more than three years of renovation work, the Mesa Arizona Temple is reopening to the public.
On Monday, the Church held a media tour and news conference to mark the start of the temple’s five-week open house. Elder Ronald A. and Sister Melanie Rasband, Elder Gerrit W. and Sister Susan Gong, Sister Reyna Aburto, Elder Kevin R. Duncan, and Elder Paul B. Pieper were in attendance, among other general authorities .
The original Mesa Temple was dedicated on October 23, 1927. The temple was closed for renovations in the mid-1970s, followed by a two-week open house and a rededication by President Spencer W. Kimball.
Now, the Mesa temple will have a five-week open house, and this time attendance is expected to be more than double the 205,000 attendance number from 1975.
In 1945, Mesa became the first temple to offer ordinances in Spanish, making it a destination temple for Latter-day Saints in Mexico and Central and South America. As reported by Church News, at the media conference Sister Reyna Aburto expressed gratitude for the Mesa temple since she and her husband—both native to Spanish-speaking countries—are the beneficiaries of temple-endowed Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints. She said, “I honestly feel that the fact that I’m here today is in a big way a blessing that comes from the sacrifices that they made.”
According to Newsroom, the Mesa temple renovation improved both the temple exterior and interior. On the inside, the instruction room murals were removed to allow repairs to walls and utility upgrades (remnants of the original murals are on display in other areas of the temple), but a team of artists was commissioned to create new murals that look similar to those from 1927.
► You may also like: See interior renderings of the newly renovated Mesa Arizona Temple
“All of the sketches were designed from the original photographs, and even the concept and intent of the original artist was maintained,” chief artist Linda Curley Christensen told Newsroom. “I’ve thought a lot about each of those painters and studied their strokes and studied the remaining pieces and tried to understand what they were portraying, what their goal was. … I became very connected to feeling akin to them. I felt a harmony and a resonance with their intent in what I was portraying. I began to feel like I was just helping them refine and refresh something that they had begun to create.”
Outside the temple, the visitors’ center was relocated to improve the view of the temple from Main Street. The temple grounds, which are accessible to anyone, feature an expanded reflection pool and beautiful new landscaping with over 300 trees.
► You may also like: Watch: First look at the newly dedicated Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center
The public open house will begin on Saturday, Oct. 16, and runs through Saturday, Nov. 20, excluding Sundays. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, will preside at the temple’s rededication on Sunday, Dec. 12.