Salt Lake Temple to close in December, will remain closed for 4 years

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Temple will close on Dec. 29, 2019. It will remain closed for about four years, church officials announced Friday.

The temple will undergo significant mechanical, structural and seismic renovations that will not only modernize the temple’s facilities but will allow the temple to better withstand a large earthquake, officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced during a press conference on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake.

KSL.com reports the annex and 60s-era buildings on the north side of the temple will be demolished and rebuilt, and the South Visitors’ Center will be demolished and replaced with two new guest and visitor pavilions.

New north pavilions will also be designed to be more open and inviting to visitors. A guest access tunnel will be built under North Temple Street for those crossing from the Conference Center over to Temple Square.

“The plaza and landscapes from State Street on the east to the Main Street Plaza will be repaired and refreshed with greater emphasis on the visitor experience and on the Savior,” church officials announced.

After the renovation, the temple ceremonies will be available in 86 languages. Currently, they are only available in English. Church officials confirmed that this means the ceremonies conducted in the temple will be performed both by temple officiators and by video. The Salt Lake Temple is one of the few temples that still performs ceremonies completely live, or by designated temple officiators, according to the church’s website.

The Salt Lake Temple is an iconic landmark in Utah and a sacred house of worship for the church’s 16 million members. Temple Square is the most-visited tourist site in the state, drawing 3 million to 5 million people each year. It is still unclear how the area’s closure will affect businesses in downtown Salt Lake.

“The logistical aspects of this certainly are going to have an impact,” Gov. Gary Herbert told reporters at the event. “We’re going to have congestion and traffic, closing off of streets as we have construction work that takes place here on Temple Square.

“So that will be a little bit of a frustration I’m sure for people trying to get around. But on the other hand, it shows the vitality of Salt Lake City. We’re not closing things down, we’re expanding and remodeling and remodernizing.”

Church leadership announced during April general conference, a biannual meeting for church members, that temples built during the “pioneer-era” of the church would soon undergo renovation.

Faithful members of the church attend the temple to make sacred promises with God. While visitors are welcome in church buildings used for regular church activity and Sunday worship, faithful members believe the temple to be an especially sacred place. Only members who follow the standards of the church are permitted to enter.

The temple in St. George will be closed in November and will reopen in 2022.

“Ours is a sacred responsibility to care for them. Therefore, these pioneer temples will soon undergo a period of renewal and refreshing — and for some, a major restoration,” President Russell M. Nelson, leader of the church, said in early April. “Efforts will be made to preserve the unique historicity of each temple whenever possible, preserving the inspiring beauty and unique craftsmanship of generations long-since passed.”

When President Nelson announced the closure Friday, he mistakenly said the temple would close in 2029, though he was corrected once he was finished speaking.

“Is that the only mistake I’ve made all day?” he joked.

Click here to see renderings of the project.

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