IDAHO FALLS — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opening the doors of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple this week following a major renovation project.
160,000 reservations have been made for the public open house, which begins Saturday, and church officials announced Monday that an additional 60,000 open house tickets have been released.
The temple closed in March 2015 and construction crews have updated all mechanical and electrical equipment, redone the entire interior of the building, restored large murals and finished a variety of other improvements.
“It’s very exciting,” said Elder Larry Wilson, the LDS Church Temple Department executive director. “This is much more of a historic temple, like some of the pioneer temples in Utah, and this renovation has brought back some of the original beauty to the temple.”
The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was first announced in 1937. It was the first Mormon temple in Idaho and the eighth in the world. It was dedicated Sept. 23, 1945.
“I was here at the dedication with my grandparents when I was 10 years old,” Rigby church member JoAn Wood told EastIdahoNews.com. “I remember how many people were here. It was just such a huge, huge crowd.”
Wood has fond memories of singing a song called “Temple by the River” with a group of young women two years after the building was dedicated.
She was later sealed to her husband and five daughters in the Idaho Falls temple. Latter-day Saints believe a couple sealed in a temple will be married beyond death and their family will be together forever.
“He’s been gone 14 years this April, and to know that I’m sealed to him eternally is very satisfying to me,” Wood said.
Wood, other VIPs and the media toured the temple Monday. Everything inside the 92,000-square-foot building is new or like new — crews were brought in to clean and restore large murals that have hung on the walls for decades.
“It was a slow and tedious process to get these murals back to their original state,” Wilson said. “The colors are brighter and clearer now, and there is so much more light.”
There are 156 operating temples throughout the world. The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple is one of four temples in the Gem State. The others are in Twin Falls, Boise and Rexburg. A temple in Meridian is under construction, and the Pocatello temple was announced earlier this month.
The Idaho Falls Temple open house runs from Saturday, April 22 through Saturday, May 20, 2017, except for April 23, April 30, May 7 and May 14. Everyone is welcome to attend, church officials say, and free reservations for tours can be made by clicking here.
“We’re really looking forward to this one being open again,” Wood said. “I can’t wait.”