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Salt Lake Temple closure aims to maintain history and upgrade safety

Posted at 12:37 PM, Dec 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-05 17:28:20-05

The massive renovation project at Temple Square gets underway in just over three weeks. December 29th is when the temple will close and work gets underway. Wednesday, officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gave members of the media a look at what will be happening during the construction and why.

Basically, it’s time for an update. The last time the temple saw a renovation was in the 1960s. Engineers say mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire suppression improvements must be made in the Salt Lake Temple. They are also essentially making the temple earthquake-proof, installing a base isolation system with new modern technology, similar to work that was completed in recent years at the State Capitol.

It’s a project that will close the temple for the next four years, but LDS church officials say for visitors and guests this area will remain open.

Tanner Kay is the manager of Guest Experiences at Temple Square. He told FOX 13 News, "Temple Square will continue to be open 365 days a year and we will accommodate guests as best as we can during the renovation but with the validated parking that will be offering and the tours that will be available at the conference center it will actually provide more space for guests to wander and explore at their leisure  than is currently available.”

Emily Utt is the Historic Sites Curator for the LDS church. She said, "The Salt Lake Temple is so important to the church because of its history and so in our renovation project we want to make sure we are respecting that history.”

She said basically every inch of the temple will be impacted by the current renovation project,  and while those improvements are being made preparing for the temple to last well into the future, they are essentially going back to the past restoring and preserving some of the original features in the temple that was dedicated back in 1893.

Changes you’ll notice as early as next month include the wall between City Creek and Temple Square that will be coming down and the main visitor center on the south side of Temple Square that will be demolished. The Conference Center will essentially become the new visitor center with tours, new art and statues and films offered there.  It will be open to the public and church officials say will offer the best viewing area of the work that will be done in Temple Square over the next four years. An open house for the public to see the renovations inside the Salt Lake temple is planned when the work is complete. That's estimated to be in the beginning of 2024.