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By Mike Terry, Deseret News

DRAPER — The new Draper Temple of the LDS Church is unlike any other temple along the Wasatch Front.

That's because it is smaller, has its own design, features some unique artwork, lacks a patron cafeteria and has no clothing rental facilities.

A contingent of more than three dozen media members took a 90-minute tour of the new temple Friday. The general public can tour temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, until they are dedicated.

Public open houses of the Draper Temple begin Jan. 15 and go through March 14. The temple will be dedicated March 20-22.

Nestled in Corner Canyon in the southeast foothills of the Salt Lake Valley at 14065 S. Canyon Vista Lane, this temple (and the Oquirrh Temple now under construction in South Jordan's Daybreak community) will ease pressure on the Jordan River Utah Temple. It will serve approximately 60,000 church members in the Draper area.

This will be the 129th operating temple in the world, the 12th in Utah and the third in Salt Lake County.

"This is a great event for us as the dedication of any temple is," Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said. "This is a great time for the church to dedicate another house unto the Lord."

Elder William R. Walker, executive director of the church's temple department, described the Draper Temple as "medium-sized," among the church's other temples. He said it is about one-fourth the size of the Salt Lake Temple, at 58,300-square-feet. It is approximate in size to the Rexburg, Idaho Temple and smaller than the Jordan River or Bountiful temples.

The Draper Temple features some interior woodwork made from African wood and limestone on the floors from France. White granite in the temple is from China.

It also includes some unique artwork, including panoramic Rocky Mountain scenery in two of its ordinance rooms by Utah artist Linda Curley Christensen and Colorado artists Keith Bond. Most historic is a 1922 oil painting that used to hang in the former Draper Tabernacle, depicting the Angel Moroni's visit to church founder Joseph Smith to deliver the Golden Plates.

Although there isn't a public cafeteria in the temple, there is a workers' dining hall, where they can eat the home lunches they bring in. There's also a small laundry to take care of the baptismal clothing.

There's also a recurring design of the sego lilly, Utah's state flower, in art-glass by Utah artist Tom Holdman (who also did the temple's window art-glass.)

Latter-day Saint temples differ from the church's meetinghouses or chapels where members meet for Sunday worship services. A temple is considered a "house of the Lord" where Christ's teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. In the temple, church members learn more about the purpose of life and strengthen their commitment to serve Jesus Christ and their fellow men.

Some 900,000 people have already signed up to tour the temple and the church is expecting a total of 1 million visitors during the open house.

Elder Ballard said he is often asked why Mormons are so secretive, because the general public cannot enter the temples after dedication.

"The work that occurs here is sacred," he said. "You'll feel that (on a tour)."

During the media tour, Elder Ballard also praised modern technology and how computers are preventing duplication in temple work.

The Draper Temple also includes a bounty of natural light coming in through windows. He said architects and church leaders have tried to maximize that. A recent group of VIP visitors to the temple "were overwhelmed by the beauty and the light" inside, he said.

Indeed, as the late morning sun hit the windows of the temple's largest sealing room, it was almost bright enough to need sunglasses.

Russell Mumford, project manager for Okland Construction, who built the Draper Temple, said he is very pleased with the finished product. He said the complexity of design for any LDS temple, as well as the frequent winds on the hillside area, were perhaps the greatest challenges for the builders.

On average during construction, a fleet of 150 craftsmen a day were on the temple site.

Visitors to the temple's open house will first meet at the adjacent Draper South Mountain Stake Center, where they will have an opportunity to see a new 10-minute video production on church temples. They will then walk through a long canvas-covered canopy segment directly into the temple's foyer.

However, Elder Walker said the church is only relying on plastic carpet runners and some extra carpet overlays on the floor of the temple to help hinder carpet wear and tear. Visitors will not wear any special outside coverings over their shoes. That's because it wasn't cost effective to do that for the high number of expected visitors.

• Open house organizers request that advance reservations be made online at www.lds.org/reservations (maximum of 10 guests per reservation) or by calling 1-800-537-6181 (toll free) or 801-240-7932 (local). Reservations for larger groups can also be accommodated by calling these numbers.


Address: 14065 S. Canyon Vista Lane, Draper

Announcement: Oct. 2, 2004

Groundbreaking: Aug. 5, 2006

Open house schedule: Jan. 15 - March 14

Dedication schedule : March 20-22; four sessions scheduled for each day.

Temple president: Donald L. Staheli, 76, Monument Park 16th Ward. President Staheli's wife, Afton Stratton Staheli, will serve as temple matron.

Rank: It will be the 129th operating temple in the world and the 12th in Utah.

Area of service: It will serve approximately 60,000 church members in the Draper area.

Property size: 12 acres.

Building size: 58,300 square feet.

Building height: 50 feet, or 168 feet 8 inches to the top of the Angel Moroni statue.

Contractor: Okland Construction

Architects: FFKR Architects.

E-mail: [email protected]