The Surprising Secrets of The Gardens at Temple Square

This story is sponsored by Temple Square – Experience the beautiful landscape and historic buildings of Salt Lake City’s Temple Square – one of Utah’s top tourist attractions. Book a free tour today!

The Gardens at Temple Square

200,000 bulbs, more than a half million plants, and soil cooked to two thousand degrees. These are a few of the little known and surprising secrets of The Gardens at Temple Square. Taylor Powers from KSL NewsRadio‘s “Your Utah” reports.

Your Utah

Your Utah is hosted by Taylor Powers and Ethan Millard. In each episode, they take you through a mix of original date ideas, family activities, shows, events and tips on how to get the best out of some of Utah’s year-round venues. You can download episodes or subscribe to Your Utah here.


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Renovating a pioneer temple: Inside the process of updating the Salt Lake Temple

SALT LAKE CITY — The renovation of the Salt Lake Temple is now in its 22nd month. And this incredibly huge project is moving along in every way toward connecting the past with the present and with the future.

The foundation of the Salt Lake temple

Right now about 16 feet of the foundation of the temple is exposed.

“That’s beautiful 1850s work right down there,” said Andy Kirby, the director of historic temple renovations for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He stood in front of the area in late September to talk about the work ongoing at the temple site.

Kirby feels a connection to the past when he looks at the exposed foundation. He knows the pioneers struggled to plant crops and build their lives while facing multiple challenges.

Builders covered the foundation during the Utah War in 1857-58, making the area look like a plowed field. When they dug it back out again, they saw where they could improve and added granite to the top.

“What we see there, is it is still sandstone. We know they improved the masonry. You can see the quality of the masonry is significantly different,” said Kirby. “We have now exposed that beautiful work. That foundation has stood for 168 years, and it has performed beautifully.”

Most of the work done for the first two years of this project has been excavation work to get to the foundation. Now they can work on strengthening it to make it last even longer.

“I like to think we are holding hands with the pioneer constructors, and taking what they did, and improving what they did with the technology we have,” said Kirby. “This is a beautiful, beautiful symbol of past, present and future.”


Seismic upgrades reinforce the temple

The temple is getting major seismic improvements.

The strengthening process is called “jack and bore.” 40 foot steel pipes, up to 4 feet in diameter, are being pushed slowly underneath the building below the foundation. Crews remove soil, rock and gravel from inside the pipe by hand with mining carts as they push the pipes in farther.

Workers fill the pipes with high-strength concrete, reinforced steel, and post-tensioning strands. They fill the gap between the outside of the pipe and the surrounding soil with grout.

Ninety-two of these pipes will support the temple foundation.

Scaffolding surrounds the building so they can access the whole perimeter at once.

Work continues from bottom to top

Kirby said workers will repair the stone and mortar. They will also repair the windows and install new windows for thermal protection and sound resistance.

Then there’s all the work going on at the top of the building.

“We’re going to be removing a lot of stones over the next year, and we will put those stones back on, but we will put them back on with steel pins and steel frame systems so that holds the top of the temple together better,” he said.

Kirby described how they will tie the top of the temple all the way to the bottom; they will drill through the stone and insert large cables to post-tension it.

It is a non-reinforced stone structure. They are adding reinforcement to it with steel trusses in the roof. Workers proceed with great care, opening up the bays one at a time and covering anything that is exposed underneath with a swimming pool cover-type mechanism.

“The temple itself will be more rigid in an earthquake, and then we base isolate the bottom so we separate it from the earth. So when an earthquake happens, the temple moves less while the ground moves,” Kirby said.

Increased capacity after Salt Lake Temple renovation complete

Workers have excavated the north side of the temple three stories deep. This will become the new addition, replacing what was built in the 1960s.

It took a while to decommission the buildings, then abate all the hazardous materials that had been in there.

Kirby pointed out the shoring around the perimeter, the soldier piles and beams, and the lagging process to hold the soil back around the pit.

In October and November they plan to work on the footings and foundation, and then start building up.

Having it three stories will greatly expand the use of the temple, said Kirby.

“You need almost all of that space to accommodate the groups and the session sizes that you hope to accommodate,” he said.

That includes two baptistries, 23 sealing rooms and five endowment or instruction rooms.

Other new features

Crews mined a tunnel underneath North Temple, connecting to the parking garage of the Conference Center. It will become a hallway that is an extension of the temple.

“Patrons in the future will be able to park and walk through the tunnel at that level, which will be lower level two. They then will be able to choose between the east or the west baptistry,” said Kirby. Endowment patrons will go up a level to their recommend desk.

They also plan two separate pavilions farther from the entrance for wedding parties to celebrate as newly married couples exit the temple.

The endowment sessions will be in video form in 80 languages for this extremely popular temple.

“Until this time, patrons of the temple had to speak English to come and participate. Now the temple will be available to people who speak many different languages. That’s a big improvement in accessibility to members of the church,” said Kirby.

Artifacts and Visitors Center items move to Conference Center

The Conference Center has now become the main visitors center for the Salt Lake Temple.

Many of the items removed from the temple and the north and south visitors centers are on display across the street in the Conference Center.

There’s an altar, a table,  a doorknob with the beehive symbol, a cane and other historic features with written explanations and context. People can also watch a film about the temple renovation and its purpose.

The large cutaway model of the temple and a Christus statue are also in the Conference Center, as well as a lot of artwork on the balcony level.

The cutaway model is, we know, a guest favorite. It was previously in the South visitor center and then brought over here,” said Ben Metcalf, the manager of temple visitor centers for the Church. “What I love about it in this location is you can look at the temple, really get a great view of it and then turn around and see what happens inside.”

A bird’s eye view

Metcalf said his favorite spot in the Conference Center is probably the roof where he can watch the work going on across the street.

“Seeing them dig has been really, really  fun to watch. And it just kind of gets louder, as they dig deeper, but it doesn’t detract from the guest experience,” he said.

The location also allows him to watch for changes in the steel structures and plates and pipes as they are inserted.

Metcalf urged people to come experience more of Temple Square, including the Church History Museum with its children’s experience, and the other historic buildings.  Those who live outside of the area can take a virtual tour.

He said the plans right now include making the area to the south into the new main visitors center. And they will turn the area of the old North Visitors Center into gardens and contemplative space with a focus on Christ and the temple.  Landscaping around the plaza and grounds will also have that vision in mind.

Open house will allow visitors to see Salt Lake Temple renovation

Metcalf said many talks are under way right now for the open house when the Salt Lake Temple renovation is finished.

“It will be something that will bring in so many people from around the world. It will be a great opportunity for us to welcome and and help people learn a little bit more about our faith and why we believe what we believe,” he said.

Kirby said it will be a historic occasion. People will be able to bring their friends and neighbors to see inside. The last time church leaders opened the Salt Lake Temple to the public happened in the 1890s before its dedication.

“I’m excited for people to have that experience to to see the beauty of the Salt Lake Temple that represents a sacrifice of our pioneer forefathers and mothers and what they put into building a House of the Lord,” said Kirby. “But also then to see how it’s important to us today and to our future generations into the future.”


A foundation in faith

Kirby said some of the workers on the project have pioneer heritage and ancestry. Others are not members of the Church. But they all feel the importance of the work and the special things that are happening on the site. 

Kirby said his team prays for inspiration as they work on the project; they believe God guides their every move.

Metcalf sees the amount of work and attention to detail in the Salt Lake Temple renovation as a symbol or a metaphor for his own personal connection with God and Jesus Christ.

“The way we renovate our homes, and our lives, strengthening our foundations of faith through small and simple things of prayer and steady and service.  I hope guests walk away inspired in that sense that whether you’re of our faith or not, you can walk away from viewing this and talking with us saying, I want to be better. I want to have a stronger faith and stronger foundation in my life,” he said.

Bonneville International Corporation, the company that owns KSL NewsRadio, is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

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Planning A Temple Square Wedding: Everything You Need to Know

After more than one hundred years of hosting happy couples on their wedding days, it’s no surprise that the people at Temple Square have learned a thing or two about how to put together a beautiful big day. More than just a destination, Temple Square offers a variety of resources that will help you plan a Temple Square wedding.

Getting Started: Temple Square Weddings

Whether you’ve been imagining your wedding since kindergarten, or it just kind of snuck up on you, you can find a range of wedding resources at Visit the wedding blog to find tips and tricks for everything from bridal shower food ideas to reviews of wedding planning apps. It’s a one-stop idea shop for all things matrimonial. And be sure to download the ultimate wedding planning checklist, which will take the stress out of planning all the magical details.

Location, Location, Location

It’s easy to see why Temple Square is a desired destination for engagement and wedding photos. The grounds and architecture are stunning, and even better, they’re always changing. From the tulips in the spring to the twinkling lights at Christmas time, you’ll be sure to find a lovely setting at Temple Square. And you can choose from a variety of locations: from the steps of the Salt Lake Temple to the Lion House garden, it’s easy to find a perfect shot.

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

Everyone knows that Temple Square can grow some serious flowers, but did you that you can get your wedding flowers from Flowers Squared, the onsite flower shop? They provide a personal consultation to allow you to design your ideal arrangements, and they have options for any budget. These people know flowers, so make sure you include Flowers Squared as part of your wedding plan.

Planning A Temple Square Wedding

No matter where you’re getting married, you’ll have lots to do. One last thing that Temple Square can offer is a great date night destination with your one and only. Take a break, take a stroll, and build another memory together as you prepare for a lifetime of wedded bliss.

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5 Ways To Spend Your Salt Lake City Layover at Temple Square

Do you have a 3-hour layover in Salt Lake City or more? Do yourself a favor and get outside of the Salt Lake City Airport. A Salt Lake City layover is a great opportunity to turn your time in Utah into a “layover vacation” and see one of Utah’s most popular tourist attractions, Temple Square. Millions of people visit Temple Square every year. It’s as popular as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. And it’s very easy to get there from the airport. Any taxi, Uber, or Lyft driver can get you there in just a few minutes. You can also take public transportation. Just jump on the Green Line train right outside the airport. It will take you straight there.

Whether you’re spending a few hours or a few days in Salt Lake City, Temple Square deserves to be at the top of your to-do list. Here are 5 fun things to do at Temple Square during your Salt Lake City layover.

01) Free Guided Temple Square Tours

The easiest way to see Temple Square is by taking one of the Temple’s free guided tours. There are several to choose from, depending on how you want to spend your time. Tours run all day. Or you can go to and book a time convenient for you and your schedule. Here are some of the great tours to choose from:

The main Temple Square Tour is a great place to start. It’s a quick and uplifting 45 minutes and you’ll learn all about the temple and its important purpose. The tour is a mix of history, faith, and amazing beauty.

History buffs will love The Beehive House Tour. The 30-minute tour features a museum displaying objects belonging to Brigham Young and his family. Young was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah’s first governor.

The Conference Center Tour features the amazing 21,000-seat auditorium, an impressive artwork collection, and Temple Square’s four-acre rooftop gardens.

02) Family History Library

How well do you know your family’s history? Temple Square’s Family History Library is the largest library of its kind. It is full of fun and interactive resources that will help you explore your family’s history. The library contains records and genealogical data for over 3 billion deceased ancestors from around the world. The research and documents that you compile at the library will be treasured in your family for generations. What an amazing souvenir from your Salt Lake City layover experience.

03) Self-Guided Tours

If you don’t think you have enough time for a guided tour, then just strike out on your own. The entire Temple Square complex is perfect for wandering. Temple Square’s website has all the information you’ll need to create your own self-guided tour. There are countless beautiful and historic works of art everywhere. And if you need it, there is usually a Temple Square volunteer nearby ready with information and directions.

04) Temple Square Dining

Before you head back to the Salt Lake City Airport, don’t forget to grab something to eat. Temple Square has four different dining options ranging from the elegant and formal, to casual.

If you’re a traveler who loves food that reflects local culture, then I have two quick food recommendations. And you can even bring them back to the airport. Enjoy the homemade fresh turkey pot pie at Nauvoo Cafe. Then walk over to the Lion House for the sting of their famous Sting Of The Bee cake. Bees and beehives are a historic symbol of Utah and trust me, this cake is delicious.

And if you have time, both The Roof Restaurant and The Garden Restaurant are unique dining experiences. The Roof Restaurant is Utah’s premier gourmet dining buffet located on the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. And The Garden Restaurant features incredible views of both Temple Square and downtown Salt Lake City. Don’t forget to try their signature fried pickles appetizer.

05) The Tabernacle

Temple Square is also home to the historic Mormon Tabernacle Choir, one of the world’s most recognized and revered musical organizations. Although you may not get a chance to see the Choir, you can tour The Tabernacle. The building is known for its acoustic perfection. The dome-shaped auditorium is so acoustically sensitive that a pin dropped at the pulpit can be clearly heard at the back of the hall, 170 feet away. The Tabernacle also features an 11,623 pipe organ where an organist performs a free recital Monday – Saturday: 12:00 pm and Sunday – 2:00 pm.

Spending Your Salt Lake City Layover at Temple Square

You’ll have a great time at Temple Square. It’s a great way to spend a Salt Lake City layover. The experience will no doubt leave you feeling relaxed, uplifted and ready for the rest of your trip. And getting back to the airport from Temple Square is just as easy as getting there.

You can see more from Temple Square in the KSL Newsradio app, KSL-TV app or in the embedded video player below. Thanks for reading!

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This Is Why You Should Visit Temple Square’s Family History Library

temple squareThis story is sponsored by Temple Square – Explore the beautiful landscape, historic buildings and learning experiences of Salt Lake City’s Temple Square – one of Utah’s top tourist attractions. Book a free tour today!

It can be tough to find activities for your family that are fun, but also meaningful. I have a great one for you: a hands-on guided family history experience that will entrance and inspire not just your children, but you as well.

Temple Square’s Family History Library

The discovery experience at Temple Square’s Family History Library is fully interactive and totally changes the way we can connect with our ancestors. When you arrive, you’ll find 100 custom iPads, 44 touch screens, and 40+ computers all dedicated to experiencing your personal family history. Kids love the interactivity and the life-size touchscreen monitors that enable them to make personalized discoveries.And if you get stuck, don’t worry. The Family History place is loaded with friendly helpers.

Record Your Memories

One of the coolest parts of the discovery experience is the high definition video recording studios. Bring your family in here and share your memories with them, or record theirs. Your kids will always remember this moment, not just because of what you share and how they felt, but because you’ll take it home for free on HD video. It’s a digital souvenir that will be treasured for generations.

Getting To Temple Square

Located in the heart of Salt Lale City, coming to Temple Square has never been easier. City Creek Center offers free two-hour parking. There’s also lots of curbside parking, just pay attention to the signs. Usually after 6:00 PM curbside parking is free. Don’t want to deal with parking? Ride the train. Both the TRAX Blue and Green lines stop here.

The Family History Library has a super convenient schedule. It’s open every day but Sunday. It closes at 5 PM on Mondays. But Tuesday through Friday it’s open until 9 pm. Plus 9-5 on Saturday.

Exploring Temple Square

Spend an hour, or take all day. If you need a break, there’s no better place to be than Temple Square. Take a stroll through The Gardens or check out an exhibit. Plus if you need a little pick me up, nothing beats butter and honey on a Lion House roll. You have everything you need here.

Bring your family to the discovery experience at the Family History Library. You’ll find out who you are and who you’re connected to in your heart.

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Top 3 Viewpoints In Downtown Salt Lake City

Lots of people come to Temple Square to look around, but have you ever come to Temple Square to look down? If you haven’t accessed some of the high points located in and around Temple Square, it’s time to make your way back for a visit that will be (literally and figuratively) very uplifting. Temple Square has 3 of the best viewpoints in downtown Salt Lake City.

01) Church Office Building Observation Deck

The iconic Church Office Building, finished in 1972, has an observation deck on the 28th floor open to the public on weekdays. It’s an imposing building and set back from the main thoroughfares of the Temple Square. Most people don’t know that you can make your way upstairs to take in some breathtaking views of downtown Salt Lake City.

From the observation deck, you’ll have an expansive view of Temple Square icons and far beyond, as you set your sights on the now-sprawling Salt Lake Valley, the Great Salt Lake, and the Wasatch Range and the Oquirrh Mountains. It may make your head spin, but you should also look straight down, just for fun.

02) Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Widely known as an events venue and for its restaurants and cafe, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building also boasts beautiful views. Make your way to the 10th floor, and find yourself actually looking down at the spires of the historic Salt Lake Temple. Perspective matters, and if looking up at the temple is awe-inspiring, then looking down is truly dizzying.

No reservation required to take in the vista, but you’ll definitely be tempted to stay and eat. The Garden Restaurant ups the view ante with its retractable roof, and the upscale Roof Restaurant is situated so that every diner has a five star (re)view.

03) The LDS Conference Center

For a rooftop experience unlike any other, make your way to the top of the most recent major addition to Temple Square: the LDS Conference Center. The grey granite walls of this 1.4 million square foot building are topped by the expansive tiered Temple Square Gardens.

When you’ve made your way to the top of the LDS Conference Center, you’ll feel like you’re out in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. The landscaped roof offers views of City Creek and a slightly wilder extension of the world-renowned landscaping of Temple Square. If there were ever a place to enjoy a Salt Lak City sunset, this is it. On your way back down, participate in one the Conference Center’s free tours, where you’ll see an impressive art collection, a 7,667-pipe Schoenstein organ and an auditorium large enough to hold two Boeing 747 planes.

Best Views Of Downtown Salt Lake City

Whatever angle you take, your visit to the lookout points of Temple Square will thrill you and give both you and your photography a chance to rise above the ordinary. Enjoy the view and please share your photos of downtown Salt Lake City with KSL NewsRadio on Twitter and Instagram!

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