SALT LAKE CITY – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Russell M. Nelson announced on Friday that the Salt Lake Temple will close on Dec. 29 for renovations. It will be closed for four years while undergoing major structural and seismic renovation, and will remain closed until 2024.
“This project will enhance, refresh, and beautify the temple and its surrounding grounds,” said President Nelson in a press release. “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 press release also stated that the surrounding area on Temple Square and the plaza located near the Church’s office building will be impacted as existing buildings are demolished and restoration takes place.
The annex and temple addition on the north side, built about 50 years ago, will also be demolished and rebuilt, reported the Church.
“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 upgrades also include replacing the Temple’s antiquated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. In addition, a major “seismic upgrade” is being added that the Church says will help the Temple 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 church added that the installation of the base isolation system requires deep excavations around the original footings and foundation of the temple. The upgrades also mean strengthening the Temple's stone spires and walls.
Included in the upgrades is the renovation of a section 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,” stated the press release
Once the Temple is renovated, Temple patrons and guests will access the temple through the new entry pavilions to the north and proceed down to a grand hall. The Temple’s entry point or recommend desk will be placed underneath large skylights giving natural light and a greater view 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,” it said.
Early Church members built the Salt Lake Temple in 1853 when Brigham Young served as Church president. Fast forward 40 years and Church President Wilford Woodruff dedicated the Temple on April 6, 1893.
Since that time, the Temple has undergone several renovations, said the press release.
“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,” it said.
During the recent Church conference, Nelson reported that the Temple would soon undergo a major renovation.
“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,” he said.
The press release stated that during the upgrades, the Church would help with pedestrian and vehicle traffic. It reports that the North Visitor’s Center, Tabernacle and Assembly Hall will stay open during construction. Missionaries serving at Temple Square will remain to assist guests.
“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.”
Various other Temple Square facilities will remain open such as 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.”
For more information on the upgrades visit www.mormonnewsroom.org.