The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released plans on Friday to temporarily close and renovate Temple Square and the Salt Lake City Temple.
President Russel M. Nelson began his speech by recognizing the pioneers who traveled from the Midwest to Utah in the 1800s, and spent 40 years building the Salt Lake Temple.
"We remember the courageous pioneers who built this temple... For 126 years, it has inspired and served Church members."
He then announced that the Salt Lake Temple will close on December 29 for four years.
“This project will enhance, refresh, and beautify the temple and its surrounding grounds. 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.”
Aspects of the temple's original design will be reinstated. Historic finishes were painted over to match 1960s anesthetics, Latter-day Saint leadership said. Those will also be reinstalled as well.
"Every reasonable effort will be made 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," Nelson said.
Major seismic and structural renovations will be completed to help the building withstand a large earthquake. Landscaping and other improvements will be added to the plaza adjacent to the temple.
“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 South Visitors' Center will be replaced with two new guest visitor pavilions. Portions of the wall lining South Temple will be modified to help people feel more welcome on Temple Square, Davies said.
The North Visitor's Center, the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall are expected to remain open during the construction. Tours by missionaries on Temple Square will still be available to guests. Visitors will also be able to access the Family History Library, Church History Museum, Church History Library, Conference Center, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Lion House and Beehive House.
The renovations are expected to be completed in 2024. “We promise that you will love the results,” Nelson said.
Nelson first mentioned the renovations during the 186th General Conference Session on the afternoon of April 7.
Construction of the Salt Lake Temple began on in 1853. The temple was dedicated 40 years later on April 6 by then-Church President Wilford Woodruff.
Over the past 126, the temple has been renovated several times.
From 1962 to 1966 an extensive renovation was done on the building, which included adding: new plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems.
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