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Crews Begin Demolition Work At Salt Lake’s Temple Square

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Demolition work has begun at Temple Square, which will allow construction crews to access and excavate the site as a significant, four-year renovation project gets underway.

Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said demolition at the Temple Square South Visitors’ Center and along portions of the square’s south wall started Friday morning.

“It’s exciting to see this actually happening after several years of planning,” said Brad Bohne, general superintendent for Jacobsen Construction. “There’s a lot of people that look to the Salt Lake Temple as a beacon of hope and faith, and we’re proud to be part of that construction team, realizing this vision.”

The Salt Lake Temple closed in December and is being decommissioned from a sacred structure to a construction site for the project.

“Each time we renovate a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, decommissioning occurs to remove sacred items and turn the building into a construction site,” said Rich Sutton, temple area director. “We have been preparing for months for this process, which began almost immediately after the temple closed to patrons on Dec. 29.”

Crews have been removing furnishings from inside the temple and officials said hazardous abatement teams have begun their work at the site.

Trees around the temple are being removed and statues, some weighing around 18,000 lbs., were removed and placed in storage last week.

Crews prepare to move one of the statues on Temple Square. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“We are working to carefully preserve some of the trees, transplant them and then replant them at the end of the project,” said Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations. “We will also plant additional trees when we finish the renovation, so there will be more trees on Temple Square than there were when this project began.”

Officials said a tall Cedar of Lebanon tree, which was brought to Salt Lake City 70 years ago, will be preserved during the renovation.

“It’s a special tree,” Kirby said. “It’s beautiful, beloved by many, so we’ll go through great efforts to preserve this tree as we excavate around it.”

Friday’s work will eventually allow crews to access the site and begin seismic work soon, according to Church officials.

“We’ll be excavating so that we can access the foundations of the temple and prepare it for the base isolation system that we’re going to install to strengthen the temple in the event of an earthquake in the future,” Kirby said. “We’re designing our earthquake stabilization system to withstand ground motions or forces from an earthquake similar to a 7.2 [magnitude] earthquake.”

A rendering of the Salt Lake Temple’s base isolation system. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Officials reminded visitors that Temple Square is open and new guest experiences are available in the Conference Center on Temple Square 365 days a year, including a new orientation film and maps to help visitors find activities in the Family History Library, Church History Museum, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Church History Library, Relief Society Building, Assembly Hall and Tabernacle.

Additional activities will be available in the Conference Center in the future, including artifacts from the temple.

More information can be found here.

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