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PROVO — With just two months before the LDS Church begins a public open house at the new Provo Center Temple, the church gave a media tour of the grounds and exterior.
And a close-up look of the new temple offers a view of the effort to preserve the pioneer flavor of the original Provo Tabernacle.
When it was destroyed by fire five years ago, many people feared it was lost forever. But Roger Jackson, who later became the principal architect on the project, knew there was still hope.
"Sometimes it is easy for building officials and people to look at it and say, 'What a disaster and we had better tear it down,' but the church was so smart to say, 'Let's stablize this thing and decide.'"
Ten months later, it was announced that not only would the tabernacle be saved, it would become a temple.
"When they first talked about doing this, you are set back and say, 'They want to do what?'"
But Kirk Dickamore with Jacobsen Construction says engineers found a way to do it. The most challenging feat was supporting the brick shell on steel supports.
"We started to say, 'This can be done, we can do this,' and had all the confidence in the world as we started," Dickamore said.
Now after three and a half years of construction, the temple is nearly complete.
Architects and builders say they relied on other projects designed by the tabernacle's architect, William Folsom, to get a feel for the style of the original building.
Folsom designed the Provo Tabernacle in the 1880s, while he was overseeing the construction of the Manti Temple. "So we tried to think, what would we have done, and so we studied the Manti Temple and went inside and studied some of the details there, because we knew that would have been on his mind at the time," said Jackson.
Bishop Gerald Causse, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is thrilled to see the progress.
"It is a unique blending of historical preservation but also a modern construction," he said.
Bishop Causse, says the church is excited to welcome the community to see the inside of the temple.
"As people will discover during the open house, a lot of the style and culture of the early pioneers of this valley have been preserved. It has been a wonderful work, very complex, we have had hundreds, thousands of people that contributed the very best of their talents and abilities, to this preservation," he said.
The open house for the temple begins Jan. 15 and runs through March 16.
Free tickets will be available beginning on Jan. 4 on lds.org. A cultural celebration will take place on March 19, followed by the dedication on March 20.
- Online reservations begin Jan. 4, 2016
- The public open house runs Jan. 15- March 5, 2016
- Cultural celebration: March 19, 2016
- The Provo City Center Temple will be dedicated Sunday, March 20, 2016