Salt Lake Temple to close December 29 for renovations, remain closed for four years

SALT LAKE CITY -- The iconic Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will close for four years beginning December 29.

The church plans to remove some buildings and change the look of Temple Square as part of the process.

Utah’s No. 1 tourist site will soon be visited by scaffolding and cranes.

It took Utah pioneers 40 years to build the historic temple. Dedicated in 1893, the temple highlighted the day’s finest architecture and craftsmanship.

President Russell M. Nelson said it’s time for the iconic structure to get some work done.

“To some extent, buildings are like people,” Nelson said. “Not only is the aging process inevitable, but it can be unkind.”

The largest project will be placing the entire granite temple on base isolators to survive the next big earthquake. Inside there will be new plumbing, electrical systems and greater accessibility for people with disabilities.

Outside, the visitation center will be demolished for two new buildings with surrounding plazas.

Bishop Dean M. Davies said the project will require extensive resources.

“Any project of this magnitude is costly,” Davies said. “To excavate, to remove buildings, to put new buildings in place, require very significant resource of the church.”

The price tag of the project wasn’t disclosed by the church. While construction will impact nearby traffic, and possibly businesses in the city center, Gov. Gary Herbert believes Utahns and tourists will want to witness the procress.

“I think people will come here and say, gee, what are they doing?” Herbert said. “The vitality that takes place here in Utah will be exemplified by this re-modernization, refreshing of the Salt Lake Temple.

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Executive Director of Temple Department, said they look forward to unveiling the results.

“We think it will be absolutely spectacular, and saints will really love it,” he said.

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