PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – After nearly five years of planning, excavating, and beautifying, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is preparing to open its 150th temple.
From old meetinghouse to tabernacle, to holy house of God, the Provo City Center Temple holds decades of rich history and culture.
“That’s what this temple is all about — tying the pioneer past to its beautiful promising future,” said Chad Hawkins, an LDS temple artist and historian.
Hawkins says that is why LDS church leaders chose not to start from scratch with the building but instead to ‘preserve and restore it.’
“Those two words set the tone and the direction for what that new temple would be,” Hawkins said.
The temple’s retro design is reminiscent of the Provo Tabernacle, which burned down in 2010.
“There was construction going on… and there was something left on — a piece of equipment — left on overnight, which caused a spark…” Hawkins recalled.
The destruction left many Latter-day Saints wondering what would come of the site. Then, in October of 2011, President Thomas S. Monson announced the plans. Since that time, crews have been hard at work to perfect the 150th temple, down to the detail.
“Archaeologists, many students from BYU… went carefully through all the wreckage and the ruins of the [tabernacle], and there they found relics, from toy dolls to nails, to of course, pieces of wood, to wallpaper…” Hawkins explained.
Workers used those very artifacts as inspiration for woodwork and other features in the temple.
A stenciled design found underneath the burned walls ended up becoming a special motif in the bride’s dressing room.
You will also find 80 stained-glass windows that survived the tabernacle fire throughout the building.
It is Provo City Center’s unique qualities like these that Hawkins details in his new work, Temples of the New Millenium.
“That’s the grand finale of the book. It’s meant to be 1-150,” Hawkins said of Provo City Center Temple.
Open house tours for members of the public officially begin on January 15th, but VIP tours are already under way.
“My first time I spoke as a general authority was in the old tabernacle,” Emeritus General Authority, Merrill J. Bateman said, after taking a tour
“We went into this one room, and it had a big chandelier!” one girl grinned.
“They would tell us about the rooms, what would happen in there,” said another child.
Church leaders say their hope is that the tabernacle turned temple will serve members as a sacred sanctuary and place of peace.
For details on how to reserve open house tickets, click here.
For more information on Temples of the New Millenium, which comes out in February, click here.