As part of the Salt Lake Temple renovation announcement on April 19, 2019, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the Church will make every reasonable effort to honor and maintain the temple’s historic beauty.
“We will strive to preserve its reverent setting and character as originally directed by President Brigham Young,” President Nelson said. “We promise that you will love the results.”
Here are some questions and answers that will hopefully help those following the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square to better understand how the project will unfold in the coming years.
When will the Salt Lake Temple close?
The Salt Lake Temple will close on December 29, 2019.
How long will the Salt Lake Temple be closed?
The Salt Lake Temple will be closed for about four years. It is expected to reopen in 2024.
How will the renovation affect the plaza and other buildings on Temple Square?
The project will include the removal of the existing temple entry/annex, removal of the South Visitors’ Center, renovation of the historic Salt Lake Temple, construction of new temple entry buildings and visitors’ pavilions, and new hardscape and landscaping.
The plaza between State Street on the east and the Main Street Plaza will be repaired and refreshed with greater emphasis on the visitor experience and on the Savior.
West of the Main Street Plaza, the temple renovation and nearby site improvements will extend from North Temple to South Temple and from the Tabernacle to the Main Street Plaza.
There will still be access to the North Visitors’ Center, the Assembly Hall, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and other buildings surrounding the Salt Lake Temple.
How much of Temple Square will be closed during the renovation, and what can I still visit?
Guests can still visit the Family History Library, Church History Museum, Church History Library, Conference Center, Salt Lake Tabernacle, North Visitors’ Center, Assembly Hall, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Church Office Building, Relief Society Building, Administration Building, Beehive House, and Lion House.
Only the Salt Lake Temple, the South Visitors’ Center, and east plaza area will receive renovation attention.
During the renovation, the Church will closely coordinate pedestrian and vehicle traffic issues with Salt Lake City.
Tours by missionaries from the Temple Square Mission will continue to be available during construction.
How will the Temple Square renovation affect the annual tradition of Christmas lights?
Visitors will still be able to come and see Christmas lights, although it may be somewhat limited and smaller during the construction period.
How will this affect the Salt Lake Temple District?
Patrons who normally attend the Salt Lake Temple are encouraged to attend other nearby temples, including the Ogden, Bountiful, Jordan River, Draper, and Oquirrh Mountain Utah temples, although they may experience increased waiting. There are no plans to formally reassign any Latter-day Saint stakes to other temple districts during the closure.
What will be different about the sacred work of the Salt Lake Temple when the renovation is complete?
Following the renovation, the Salt Lake Temple will include live and film sessions.
The Salt Lake Temple currently has no ability to accommodate patrons who do not speak English. When the renovation is completed, the temple will be able to serve members who speak more than 86 different languages.
Where will the weekly meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles take place?
Administrative meetings held by Church leaders in the temple will be held in designated areas of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
Will there be an open house and rededication of the Salt Lake Temple when the renovation is finished?
Yes. When complete in 2024, the Church will host a public open house, and the Salt Lake Temple will be rededicated.
When was the last time the Salt Lake Temple underwent a major renovation?
The last major renovation of the Salt Lake Temple was in 1962. The temple closed on July 29 of that year for extensive renovation that included demolition of the old annex; cleaning of the exterior stone; replacement or upgrade of all mechanical systems, plumbing, wiring, carpeting, and light fixtures; reupholstering of furniture; and redecoration of the entire building. The temple reopened on May 21, 1963, according to ChurchofJesusChristTemples.org.
On March 7, 1963, the building that would later become the North Visitors’ Center was dedicated as a temporary annex.
A new annex built to house seven new sealing rooms, a children’s waiting room, mechanical systems, two new locker rooms, new initiatory areas, and a new chapel seating 450 patrons opened on March 19, 1966. This new annex was dedicated on October 23, 1967.
What will change/remain the same about the Salt Lake Temple’s exterior/interior?
The Church plans to preserve the historic aspects of the Salt Lake Temple’s exterior wall and hopes visitors will feel more welcomed to Temple Square.
The work of the project is a mix of preservation, restoration, renovation, and new construction.
All of the temple’s aging mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems will be replaced.
Extensive research has been undertaken regarding such things as soil composition, granite strength, concrete and plaster sampling, and vibration movement modeling, along with additional research in cooperation with the Church History Department on the historic aspects of the temple, including its original design and subsequent modifications. A detailed study of this research includes paint samples, murals, millwork, and furniture.
The renovation will include a significant seismic upgrade to help the temple withstand a large magnitude earthquake. A base isolation system will be installed.
The stone spires and walls will need to be strengthened.
As part of the project, a new access tunnel will be installed under North Temple Street. The tunnel will grant direct entry to the temple from the Conference Center parking area.
The renovation of the plaza east of the temple will make it more public and friendly, with seating areas and new corridors.
There will be times during the construction when scaffolding will cover the temple and nightly lighting will be reduced.
How will the renovation affect Temple Square activities, such as tours, weddings, parties, concerts, restaurants, and state tourism?
Tours by missionaries from the Temple Square Mission will continue to be available during construction, as will access to all the buildings surrounding the temple and plaza. Couples can still make marriage reservations until the temple is closed on December 29.
How much will the renovation cost?
The Church acknowledged the cost of the renovation will be significant but did not disclose a specific figure.
Who is doing the architecture and construction?
FFKR Architects and Jacobsen Construction.
Will there be any street closures?
No. The Church will coordinate closely with Salt Lake City to address any pedestrian and vehicle traffic concerns.
How much noise and dust will the renovation generate?
The project will involve scaffolding on the temple, multiple tower cranes, dust, and noise. The Church hopes to keep the dust to a minimum and comply with Salt Lake City noise ordinances.
How will the Church prevent what recently happened with Notre Dame from happening to the Salt Lake Temple?
The Church acknowledged the recent Notre Dame fire and understands how construction puts any project at greater risk for a fire. The Church plans to work closely with the contractor, Church risk management, and local fire officials to finalize a fire prevention plan.
Will the Tabernacle Choir still rehearse at the Salt Lake Tabernacle during the renovation?
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will continue to use the Salt Lake Tabernacle but at times might move over to the Conference Center in coordination with the construction schedule. The Church emphasized that visitors will still be welcome to enjoy the Tabernacle.