ST. GEORGE — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced renovation details for the St. George Utah Temple and released renderings of the new design during a Wednesday press conference.
The temple will close Nov. 4 and reopen in 2022. Once renovations are complete, the temple will open to the public for a period of time and will welcome both members and nonmembers alike to tour the historic building. The St. George Utah Temple has not been open to the public in nearly 50 years.
Here are eleven of the major renovations announced by Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations:
- Crews will demolish and reconstruct most of the temple annex that was built in the 1970s. They will move ceremonial rooms to the main building of the temple and move mechanical equipment to the annex.
- The annex will include a new kitchen, cafeteria and laundry room.
- The upper portion of the annex will be demolished and rebuilt to look more like the rest of the temple.
- The entire temple block will be improved with new walkways, landscaping, water features and additional trees.
- Crews will build a new plaza on the east side of the temple to greet visitors at the historic entry of the temple. The plaza will include seat walls, water features and palm trees that will line the area.
- A new entry plaza with improved accessibility pathways will be added on the north side of the temple. Crews will regrade 400 South so the road is higher and nearer the entrance to the temple.
- A new brides’ exit and plaza will be added to the east side of the annex.
- A new baptistry entrance and exit will be added to the south side of the temple.
- The rooms inside the temple will be restored to be “sympathetic” to the original temple built by the early Utah pioneers. This will include historic architecture, design, lighting and murals.
- Crews will build a new stair tower to replace the one built in the 1970s. It will include a grand staircase and two elevators that will allow patrons to access all floors of the historic building.
- There will be structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, seismic and finish work done throughout the temple to upgrade old areas.
The renovations will encompass the entire temple block and the section of 400 South directly north of the temple. Some public right-of-way access will be temporarily restricted.
The temple’s visitor center will remain open during construction, but there will be no access to the temple until 2022. There will be no Christmas light display during the renovations.
Latter-day Saint President Russell M. Nelson announced in October that the church would renovate and update pioneer-generation temples to restore them to their original architecture and design. Wednesday, those involved in planning shared their delight with the reality of President Nelson's vision.
"We are excited to restore the temple to what it once was with the intent of what the pioneers had planned," said Brent Roberts, managing director of the church’s Special Projects Department.
The St. George Utah Temple opened in April 1877 and was the first temple completed in Utah. It has been in operation for nearly 150 years — the longest of any Latter-day Saint temple. It has undergone several remodels.
"We hope that our planned renovation highlights the consecrated efforts of those who came before and reflects their diligence and effort to build a house of the Lord," said Emily Utt, historic sites curator with the Church History Department.
The temple currently serves 12,000 youth and 90,000 adults from Arizona, Nevada and southern Utah.
Once the St. George Utah Temple closes, the closest Latter-day Saint temple for city residents will be the Cedar City Utah Temple about an hour away. Some members may also choose to frequent the Las Vegas Nevada Temple. Church leaders said they will closely monitor the nearby temples' capacity and adjust schedules if need be.
Watch the full press conference here: