LDS Church's Portland Oregon Temple turns 25

Published: Thursday, Aug. 7 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

The sun was shining brightly over the Portland Oregon Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 12, 2012, as Trever and Kara Bair, surrounded by family and friends, were married for time and all eternity.

It was an event that Kara had been looking forward to for a long time.

"It had been my dream since I can remember to marry the man of my dreams in the Portland Temple," she said. "I grew up 20 minutes away. I remember planting flowers, doing baptisms, walking the grounds and waiting for my big sister and her new husband to come out. In my eyes, the Portland Temple was my castle where my prince and I would start our forever together. Trever knew it was my dream, and he made it come true."

The Bairs are one of countless couples to be sealed in the Portland Temple over the past 25 years. This month marks the silver anniversary of its dedication, performed by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then the first counselor in the First Presidency, Aug. 19-21, 1989.

In a book titled "Saints to the Columbia," President Thomas S. Monson, then second counselor in the First Presidency, said of the Portland Temple: "You won't find a better example of beautiful craftsmanship of the Lord — the lovely trees and vegetation — than here at the Portland Temple. ... I've seen none more beautiful."

In connection with this 25-year milestone, here is a look back at the construction and dedication of the temple, along with a few memories from those who have served there.

The property

In the 1960s, the LDS Church purchased the property in Lake Oswego, Oregon, with plans for a junior college. Two decades later, church leaders decided it would become the site of the Portland Temple, according to the LDS Church News.

In Chad S. Hawkins' book "The First 100 Temples," James H. Bean, former vice chairman of the temple committee, said the Lord had his eye on the property.

"I've watched the things that have happened on this property for 20 years," Bean said in Hawkins' book. "I have felt the whisperings of the Spirit, that it was intended to be preserved for special purposes."

The temple was announced on April 7, 1984, and faced opposition early on, Hawkins wrote.

"The process of getting the property approved for the temple included at least 27 public hearings, eight lawsuits, and four petition drives intended to stop development," Hawkins wrote.

Building the temple

Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy, who has an extensive background in construction, served as the general contractor on the Portland Temple.

Elder Zwick said building the temple came with a demanding schedule, the need to coordinate perfectly with subcontractors and concern for safety and high visibility in a sensitive neighborhood. He was also well aware of the church's expectations for high quality workmanship and was grateful to take part in such a special project.

"We felt honored, knowing it was the House of the Lord," Elder Zwick wrote in an email to the Deseret News. "We were delighted that every man working on this project understood the sacred nature of this building and of the sacred site upon which it was built."

Ground was broken on Sept. 20, 1986. For the next three years, there was rain, rain and more rain, 9 inches some days, Elder Zwick said. Among several challenges, an arborist was hired to protect the trees surrounding the temple. The biggest challenge involved redesigning the foundation due to supersaturated soil, which was ultimately a blessing.

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