ST. GEORGE (ABC4 News) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the official closure of its St. George Temple Monday as it undergoes a massive multiyear renovation, which is expected to be completed in 2022.
“This is one of the beautiful, premier temples in the Church,” Brent Roberts, managing director of the Church’s Special Projects Department, said in a news release. “Latter-day Saints have worshipped here for almost 150 years. However, the building has worn out over time, and it is once again time for us to refresh and strengthen this historic structure for future generations to enjoy.”
Church authorities say perhaps the most significant change to the state’s oldest temple is the demolition and rebuilding of the temple annex. Future visitors can also expect new landscaping, trees, and walkways. Crews will create a new bride’s exit and baptistery entrance and update heating and cooling systems.
During construction, some sidewalks will be closed and a few roads will be “temporarily” shut down, but the visitor’s center will remain open. Church representatives said the annual Christmas light display will be suspended during construction.
Area Latter-day Saints are encouraged to attend two other temples in the region: the Cedar City Temple and the Las Vegas Temple. Once the renovation is complete, the temple will be open to visitors during an open house.
Church members James and Denise McArthur of St. George said the renovation is a small price to pay to keep the temple in great condition, as the building remains one of the most significant places in their lives.
“We’ve been married 51 years and we were married in the St. George Temple,” Denise McArthur said. “We have seven children, and they were all married in the same room in the St. George Temple as we were.”
James McArthur said his ancestors settled to St. George and were involved in the building of the first temple, completed in 1877 when Utah was not yet an official state.
Church representatives said they hope to restore the temple to what it once was, with the intent of what the pioneers had planned.
“These settlers not only built a town, they built a community,” said Emily Utt, historic sites curator with the Church History Department. “We believe the current plans to preserve, restore and renovate this sacred place will honor those who came before while also improving the temple’s safety and function for patrons.”