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Cover image: Rendering of the Mesa Arizona Temple after renovation. To see more renderings of the renovation plans, click here.
Detailed plans of major renovations for the historic Mesa Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were released Thursday, May 10, 2018, days before the religious building is scheduled to close for a two-year renovation.
The 75,000-square-foot temple will undergo extensive work, including site improvements, exterior maintenance, interior finishes, and building system maintenance for HVAC systems. The temple grounds will also be renovated and enhanced. The public will be invited to tour the temple before it reopens, which is expected to be in 2020.
“Systems wear out, even in temples,” said Brent Roberts, the Church’s managing director of Special Projects. “We’ll have the opportunity to stabilize the building systems and, at the same time, refresh the building itself.”
As part of the renovation, the visitors’ center will be demolished, and a new center will be rebuilt across the street on the southwest corner of Lesueur and Main Street. It will be home to various interactive exhibits and events, historical information about the temple, and family history research and teaching facilities.
This is the second renovation for the 91-year-old temple. It was rededicated in 1975 by President Spencer W. Kimball following refurbishment. It was originally dedicated by President Heber J. Grant in 1927. It is one of six Latter-day Saint temples in the state of Arizona.
In addition to its longevity, the Mesa Arizona Temple is unique because it was the first Latter-day Saint temple that implemented Spanish services, which benefited Latter-day Saints outside the United States.
“It was at this temple in 1945 that temple [rites] were first completed in a language other than English,” said Emily Utt, historic sites curator for the Church History Department. “Temple workers learned Spanish.”
Roc Arnett, the Church’s local director of public affairs, added, “This temple has served the community, but it has also served many across South America and into Central America.”
The renovation will seek to improve the building and experience for temple patrons while also maintaining the historic feel and character of the original design. Special care will be taken to protect the historic murals throughout the temple, and new murals will be added in some locations to complement the originals.
Additionally, roofing and drainage systems will be replaced, and new windows will be installed to provide better temperature control and conserve energy. Improvements will also be made to make the temple more accessible to people with disabilities.
The temple grounds will also undergo major changes to make them more consistent with the character of the landscape design immediately around the temple. The visitors’ center and the water feature on the temple’s north side will be replaced with a new reflection pool and side gardens, opening a more generous view toward Main Street. The reflection pool at the temple entrance will be repaired and remain in its current location. Workers will make efforts to preserve the existing shade trees while adding new garden areas.
The temple site will also be improved to better accommodate the annual Easter pageant — a tradition in the community since 1928 — and make the area more accessible and enjoyable with new paths and walkways.
Latter-day Saint temples are considered houses of God, where faithful Mormons participate in sacred ceremonies such as marriage and the uniting of families for eternity. Temples differ from meetinghouses or chapels, where all are welcome to meet for Sunday worship services and other activities.