SALT LAKE CITY — With more than 150 temples worldwide, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been described as a temple-building church. And with the operations of those temples spanning 140 years, it also has become a temple-renovating church.
Currently, three of the 155 Mormon temples labeled as “in operation” are closed for extensive renovations — the Idaho Falls Idaho, Frankfurt Germany and Jordan River Utah temples. Two more — the Oakland California and Washington D.C. temples — were recently identified for upcoming renovation closures.
Of the LDS Church’s 20 oldest operating temples, 15 have had, are having or will have at least one series of extensive and lengthy renovations with a subsequent dedication or rededication. Take the 30 oldest operating temples, and that number increases to 23. Six temples have been rededicated not once but twice.
The announcement of new temples — usually done during the church’s April or October general conferences — as well as the ensuing construction efforts, open houses and dedications prior to operation — have been well-documented over the years.
By comparison, renovations of LDS temples are not as systematic or conventional. Minor repairs, refurbishings and refreshings often are done during regularly scheduled maintenance closures at any temple. Those scheduled closures may be expanded from a couple of weeks to many weeks, several months or even a year or more.
Often, renovations deal with normal “wear and tear” and routine maintenance of a much-used building. The work can vary from upgrading one or more systems — mechanical, electrical, plumping, heating/ventilation/air-conditioning — to an update to seismic standards or disability-access codes.
Some efforts are expansion projects; others renovate existing features. Occasionally, it is to restore after disasters ranging from lightning strikes to earthquakes and from fires to broken water lines. Or, in the case of the Salt Lake Temple, repairs after a bomb blast.
Many renovations are inside jobs — with interior refurbishing and replacements unseen by the public. Exterior efforts can be more visible, such as when scaffolding surrounded the San Diego California Temple in 2010 for exterior repairs and cleaning.
While that temple remained open during the spring-and-summer project, the Draper Utah Temple — with its own accompanying scaffolding — was closed Mondays through Thursdays but open on Fridays and Saturday’s during 10 weeks last fall while repairs corrected condensation issues with the exterior windows.
It has become somewhat commonplace — but not always guaranteed — that following an extensive renovation period, temples are made available briefly to the public via open-house tours, followed by a rededication prior to reopening for normal temple worship for LDS Church members.
The next such LDS temple will be the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, scheduled for public tours (April 22 through May 20) and rededication (June 4).
The Salt Lake Temple — the LDS Church’s most-recognized sacred edifice — is one of several older temples where a rededication of sorts has taken place, but without an open house prior to rededication. The first to have public tours before a rededication was the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1975.
Dedicated in April 1893, the Salt Lake Temple closed in the summer of 1962. An adjacent annex was torn down, a temporary annex for temple access was constructed in the nearly completed North Visitors Center, and additional facilities were added on the north side of the temple. During that closure, a bomb exploded at the southeast entrance of the temple in the early hours of Nov. 14, 1962. Blamed on vandals, the explosion shattered the doors and a dozen windows, causing minor interior damage.
The 1962 renovation project included new sealing rooms, a 400-seat chapel, underground dressing rooms and large waiting rooms. The Salt Lake Temple also got a thorough exterior scrubbing. The new facilities opened March 1966 and were dedicated in October 1967.
Two of the oldest temples to not have rededications or dedications of adjacent annexes are the Los Angeles California Temple (dedicated in March 1956) and the Hamilton New Zealand Temple (April 1958). But both have been sites of renovation efforts.
Closed for 10 weeks in 1981 for refurbishing during its 25th year, the Los Angeles Temple was closed again from November 2005 to July 2006 in conjunction with its 50th anniversary for seismic upgrades, baptistery improvements and other renovations.
The temple in New Zealand was closed twice in the 1990s — for two months in 1993 for renovating wall coverings and furnishings, and then again for nine months the following year for asbestos removal and air conditioning installation.
Below are lists of LDS Church temples that have been rededicated after renovations or are scheduled for such (original temple dedication dates are in parentheses):
Temples currently closed
Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (September 1945): After eight different additions and improvements over its first seven decades, it was closed in March 2015 for extensive renovations, reinforcements, upgrading mechanical and electrical systems and updating the building to code. A few of the untouched elements include the instruction-room murals and Celestial Room chandelier. Initially announced to be closed through October 2016, the renovation project has taken longer, with a June 2017 reopening.
Frankfurt Germany Temple (August 1987): Nearly three decades into operation, it was closed in September 2015 for extensive renovations and the construction of a new visitors center. Initially, the estimated completion and reopening was for July 2017, but that may be pushed into 2018.
Jordan River Utah Temple (November 1981): Renovations starting after a mid-February 2016 closing have focused on building reinforcements, mechanical and electrical upgrades, hard-ceiling installations, changing out escalators for stairs and a baptistery remodel. The announced closure was through “the latter part of 2017," so the open house and rededication could end up being in 2018.
Temples scheduled for closure
Oakland California Temple (November 1964): This temple was closed for almost two years through October 1990 for renovations, but no rededication or open house was conducted. The upcoming closure is slated for February 2018, with an anticipated reopening in 2019.
Washington D.C. Temple (November 1974): Lesser renovations have included carpet refurbishing and interior repainting over three months in late 1990 and maintenance and spire renovations in 2006. An August 2011 earthquake with its epicenter in Virginia toppled four spire tops and several pieces of marble façade: repairs took place during regular temple operations. Its full closure begins March 2018, with a projected reopening sometime in 2020.
Temples with multiple rededications
Laie Hawaii Temple (November 1919): The first major renovation effort was a two-year extensive remodeling and expansion, with its original size of 10,500 square feet more than quadrupled to more than 47,000; rededication followed in June 1978. Twenty years later, renovations over nearly 22 months included seismic and mechanical upgrades, a repaired and renovated baptistery and remodeling of instruction rooms; the second rededication occurred in November 2010.
Cardston Alberta Temple (August 1923): Following substantial renovations during the 1950s, a major expansion in the early ’60s increased the temple size from just under 30,000 square feet to more than 81,000 with rededication in July 1962. A three-year renovation project almost 30 years later was followed by an open house and second rededication in June 1991.
Atlanta Georgia Temple (June 1983): The first of seven smaller temples announced in the early 1980s, a rededication of sorts in November 1997 followed renovation and enlargement of the baptistery, the addition of offices and other remodel efforts. In May 2011, the temple was rededicated a second time, this time in its entirety. The two-year project included installing large windows in the Celestial Room for increased natural light, adding art glass to other areas, improving patron accessibility and remodeling other interior and exterior features.
Mexico City Mexico Temple (December 1983): A quarter-century after its dedication, a November 2008 rededication capped off a year-and-a-half renovation that included seismic enhancements, the replacement of a new exterior façade and a remodel of the baptistery, lobby, corridors, sealing rooms and instruction rooms. Only seven years passed before a second 18-month renovation and subsequent rededication, this time in September 2015. The second project included new marble, new carpet and new interior design elements and millwork as well as a complete exterior cleaning.
Boise Idaho Temple (May 1984): Expansion was soon needed, as the temple operated at 102 percent capacity in its first year. Started October 1986, renovations addressed dressing rooms, offices, baptistery and cafeteria, with a May 1987 rededication of the updated and expanded areas. More extensive renovations over a 15-month period followed a July 2011 closing, including replacing the temple’s original darker exterior façade with white granite. The second rededication, of the entire temple, was done in November 2012.
Freiberg Germany Temple (August 1985): Originally dedicated when the former German Democratic Republic was still enshrouded by communism’s Iron Curtain, this temple first closed in 2001 for extensive renovations and expansion. The temple’s size increased from 7,840 square feet to 13,500, with rededication in September 2002. The temple closed again from early 2015 through mid-2016 for a second wave of renovations, including a larger Celestial Room and a second instruction room. It was rededicated a second time in September 2016.
Others renovated and rededicated
St. George Utah Temple (April 1877): The LDS Church’s oldest temple still in operation, its original tower was destroyed by lightning a year after dedication, while a 1928 fire destroyed the temple’s original annex to the temple (the current annex was constructed in the 1950s). A year-plus remodel project started in 1937 resulted in the division of the lower assembly hall into permanent instruction rooms. A second renovation in the 1970s nearly doubled the temple’s size to 56,062 square feet and again addressed the remodeling of the instruction rooms. The temple was rededicated in November 1975.
Logan Utah Temple (May 1884): This temple lost its southeast stairway to a 1917 fire and then was modernized in 1949 with updated lighting, heating, air conditioning and elevators. Closed in 1977, the temple interior got an extreme makeover in a two-year renovation project, concluding with a March 1979 rededication.
Manti Utah Temple (May 1888): Various remodelings and renovations included a 1944 project addressing improvement and additions to an annex, chapel, kitchen and dressing rooms. In preparation for the temple’s centennial, an extensive four-year effort included a two-story extension to the temple annex, a renovated entrance, the addition of four new sealing rooms, the replacement of the roof and the upgrading of mechanical, electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems; the temple was rededicated in June 1985.
Mesa Arizona Temple (October 1927): February 1974 saw the start of an extensive remodel, expanding the temple footprint by 17,000 square feet and resulting in additional sealing rooms and larger dressing rooms. After completion, this temple became the church’s first to conduct public tours after a renovation, with the rededication in April 1975.
Bern Switzerland Temple (September 1955): Europe’s first LDS temple closed in 1990 for two and a half years for an extensive renovation that updated the interior and added instruction and sealing rooms. It was rededicated in October 1992.
London England Temple (September 1958): This temple also closed in 1990 for extensive remodeling and refurbishment. The two-year effort included adding a fourth floor, upgrading the mechanical systems, cleaning the exterior and repainting the interior, with the temple rededicated in October 1992.
Ogden Utah Temple (January 1972): In February 2010, the LDS Church announced a major renovation with extensive changes to the exterior look and the floor layout. Elder William R. Walker, then executive director of the church’s Temple Department, said, “It will be redone in a way that will be like a brand-new temple.” It was stripped of its pre-cast “skin” and replaced with a new-look exterior of new stone and more glass, while other improvements included seismic upgrades and more energy-efficient and modern mechanical, electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems. After the project of three and a half years, the temple was rededicated in September 2014.
Sao Paulo Brazil Temple (November 1978): When the first LDS temple in South America was dedicated in 1978, church membership in Brazil consisted of 51,000 members and 12 stakes. Nearly a quarter-century later, the Sao Paulo Temple was closed in August 2002 for renovations that included upgrading mechanical systems, finishing off the basement and other expansion projects, and topping off the spire with an Angel Moroni statue. At the time of the February 2004 rededication, church membership stood at some 867,000 members in 184 stakes, and there were three other Mormon temples in Brazil.
Apia Samoa Temple (August 1983): The temple was closed in the summer of 2003 for remodeling in advance of its 20th anniversary. An evening fire on July 9 that summer all but destroyed the edifice, leaving the skeletal structure and the spire’s Angel Moroni statue. The church announced a rebuild, and the charred remains were demolished. At length, the restored Moroni statue was placed atop the rebuilt temple, dedicated in September 2005.
Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple (August 1983): Closed in June 2006 for extensive expansion and remodeling, the temple reopened the following year with an additional 5,000-plus square feet and a new-look interior. The November 2007 rededication coincided with the Kingdom of Tonga’s Constitution Day.
Santiago Chile Temple (September 1983): With the temple closing in August 2005, a 15-month project included more than 6,000 square feet of additional space, exterior improvements and a renovated baptistery. Rededication took place in March 2006.
Papeete Tahiti Temple (October 1983): A third LDS temple dedicated in Polynesia in 1983 closed after some 20 years for renovations, this temple too was enlarged — by more than 2,000 square feet. Also included were updated mechanical and electrical systems, new rooms and a redecorated interior, prior to the November 2006 rededication.
Dallas Texas Temple (October 1984): Less than three years after dedication, this temple was closed for remodeling. Improvements included an enlargement that more than doubled the temple’s size to 44,207 square feet, the addition of an instruction room and a relocated and enlarged baptistery. A rededication was held March 1989.
Chicago Illinois Temple (August 1984): Closure and renovations came four years after dedication. An expansion more than doubled the temple’s size, with additions including a fifth instruction room, a large sealing room and a cafeteria. The addition and affected areas were rededicated in October 1989. In 1994, an elevator was added; and on Christmas Eve 2008, a frozen sprinkler pipe burst in the ceiling, with water-damaged furniture, carpet and wood trim all replaced over the next two months.
Buenos Aires Argentina Temple (January 1986): In 2001, this temple went through a series of minor renovations and the adding of an Angel Moroni statue. Eight years after that, the temple was closed for nearly three years for expansion, with two new wings added to the original structure. The temple was rededicated in September 2012.
Monticello Utah Temple (July 1998): The LDS Church’s smallest temple at just 7,000 square feet when first dedicated, this temple expanded and was rededicated four years later, in November 2002. Additions included a second instruction room and a second sealing room and a total increase of more than 4,000 square feet. Also, the original Angel Moroni statue — made of fiberglass and painted white — was replaced with a taller, gold-leafed Moroni statue that stood out better on cloudy days. Gold leafing was added to the original statue, which was installed later atop the Columbus Ohio Temple.
Anchorage Alaska Temple (January 1999): Closed in April 2003 for a less-than-a-year expansion effort, this temple nearly doubled in square footage and added a second instruction room, being rededicated in February 2004. In March 2007, an accidental fire in the neighboring stake center damaged that building but didn’t spread to the temple; however, a 6-inch water line burst the next day in the temple basement, flooding it with 3-5 feet of water in some parts. The temple was closed for a short period to restore it to working order.20 comments on this story
Montreal Quebec Temple (June 2000): This temple closed for 17 months beginning June 2014 for complete interior and exterior renovations, including replacing original wood framing with reinforced steel, addressing of mold problems and adding instruction-room murals. The temple was rededicated in November 2015.
Suva Fiji Temple (June 2000): A rebuild of all elements and aspects — excepting existing concrete walls, structural steel and the spire-topping Angel Moroni statue — began in October 2014. Even the Moroni statue got a gold regilding as well. Rededication took place February 2015.