SALT LAKE CITY — The historic Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will close for about four years starting in December so church leaders can renovate the structure and also perform structural and seismic upgrades.
In a news conference Friday, church officials unveiled photos and video detailing plans for a revamped Temple Square.
Construction on the temple, which dates back to the pioneer era, began in 1853, and it was dedicated 40 years later, in 1893, by President Wilford Woodruff.
President Russell M. Nelson announced the temple will close on December 29, 2019 for renovation and restoration work, which is expected to take around four years.
“Every reasonable effort will be made to honor and maintain the temple’s historic beauty,” President Nelson said at a news conference announcing the details.
Fire prevention will be a priority during construction, according to Brent Roberts, managing director of the church’s special projects department. The plans also include upgrading the temple to withstand a powerful earthquake.
“This upgrade will include a base isolation system, which is one of the most effective means of protecting a structure against earthquake forces,” Roberts said.
Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, says the South Visitors Center and annex on the north will be removed and replaced with new facilities.
“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,” he said.
In a question and answer session after the main news conference, church leaders said every effort will be made to allow visitors to still access Temple Square, which is the most visited site in Utah. They also plan to continue to put up Christmas lights, though to a smaller degree as construction goes on.
There are plans to open the roof of the Conference Center for more access and views of the site. The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square may also move to the Conference Center for a time during construction.
Sister Missionaries for the church will also continue to serve on Temple Square to meet visitors.
They said the Temple is still accepting appointments for weddings through December. But stakes in the Salt Lake Temple District will not be assigned to another specific temple; they can choose any in the valley or state for the four year construction period.
“We give you an early invitation to come to the open house,” said Bishop Davies. “This has not been opened that way since it was dedicated in 1893. Truly it is a remarkable thing when someone can walk through a temple.”
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