Ren­o­va­tors keep­ing mind­ful eye on Tem­ple

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY LIND­SAY WHITEHURST As­so­ci­ated Press

An iconic tem­ple cen­tral to The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints faith will close for four years for a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion to help it with­stand earthquake­s and be more wel­com­ing to vis­i­tors, lead­ers said Fri­day.

Au­thor­i­ties are also keep­ing a care­ful eye on con­struc­tion plans af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing fire this week at Notre Dame cathe­dral in Paris.

The Salt Lake Tem­ple will close Dec. 29 to up­date the stately gran­ite build­ing and sur­round­ing square, in­clud­ing el­e­ments that em­pha­size the life of Je­sus Christ, church Pres­i­dent Rus­sell M. Nel­son said. “We prom­ise that you will love the re­sults,” he said.

The build­ing and square at the heart of Utah’s cap­i­tal city is one of the state’s top tourist des­ti­na­tions, though only church mem­bers in good stand­ing can go in­side the build­ing used for mar­riages and other re­li­gious cer­e­monies.

When the pro­ject is done in 2024, the faith widely known as the Mor­mon church will host an open house to give out­siders the first glimpse of the 126-year-old tem­ple’s in­te­rior in more than a cen­tury.

A new vis­i­tors’ cen­ter and re­moval of a wall around the square in fa­vor of a fence will also vis­ually open up the flower-lined space to vis­i­tors walk­ing by.

“We want to them to think of Salt Lake just as eas­ily as they think of Jerusalem or The Vat­i­can as a place where Chris­tian­ity re­ally has its heart,” Bishop Dean M. Davies said.

The work that will bring scaf­fold­ing, cranes and oc­ca­sional road clo­sures to down­town Salt Lake City also car­ries in­creased fire risk. Au­thor­i­ties are tak­ing ex­tra cau­tion in light of the dam­age to Norte Dame by craft­ing a plan that in­cludes a 24hour fire watch, lim­it­ing weld­ing and grind­ing to cer­tain ar­eas, and plenty of fire ex­tin­guish­ers.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are still de­ter­min­ing the ex­act cause of the fire at Notre Dame, which was un­der ren­o­va­tion when the blaze started on Mon­day.

The Salt Lake Tem­ple’s earth­quake-mit­i­ga­tion pro­ject will be a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing, and in­volve ex­ca­vat­ing un­der­neath the tem­ple to in­stall a base-iso­la­tion sys­tem that will pre­vent dam­age by largely de­cou­pling the build­ing from the earth.

The area sees seis­mic ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing a se­ries of small quakes that have oc­curred in re­cent months. Plans for this pro­ject, though, stretch back more than a decade.

Much of the square will re­main open dur­ing the con­struc­tion, in­clud­ing the build­ing where the faith’s famed Taber­na­cle Choir sings.

In a nod to the 16-mil­lion-mem­ber church’s in­creas­ingly global mem­ber­ship, the pro­ject will also al­low the tem­ple to serve peo­ple in over 86 lan­guages, rather than only English.

Lead­ers de­clined to say how much the pro­ject will cost.

Tem­ples aren’t used for reg­u­lar Sun­day ser­vices, but thou­sands of church mem­bers visit ev­ery year. It is one of the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for wed­dings. While it’s closed, lo­cal mem­bers will go to a num­ber of other nearby Utah tem­ples.

Af­ter it re­opens, changes will in­clude a re­turn to a more col­or­ful Vic­to­rian-era pal­ette rather than the mostly white style adopted dur­ing another ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tion in the 1960s.


The Tem­ple of The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints faith, shown Thurs­day, will close for four years.

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