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Major Structural, Seismic Renovations Underway At Salt Lake Temple

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The April 2020 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will look a lot different, even beyond the challenges of coronavirus. The historic Salt Lake Temple has been closed, and work has begun on a four-year renovation project.

Church leaders announced the 127-year-old structure would undergo seismic upgrades and some work on the inside.

They said the massive project includes much more than the temple itself.

Project managers said this is a once-in-a-lifetime project – a huge and major undertaking on the grounds of the temple, on its foundation and on the inside.

The combination of projects have never been done before within the Church.

“This is the icon of the Church. This is the Mountain of the House in the hills,” said Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the Church’s Presiding Bishopric.

The beautiful and majestic Salt Lake Temple has served as a symbol of the sacrifice and faith of the early pioneers.

“When it comes to temples, there aren’t any projects bigger than this one, more complex, (or) more impactful. It literally affects every department on the church headquarters campus,” Bishop Davies said.

To begin with, the temple needs to be updated to withstand a large magnitude earthquake. The 5.7 magnitude earthquake in March was evidence of that. The shaking caused the trumpet of the Angel Moroni statue on the top of the temple spire to fall.

The seismic upgrades involves digging below the foundation of the temple, and placing hundreds of base isolators below to hold up the granite structure.

“We are going to save the initial foundation. We are going to save the footings. We are going to save everything we possible can, because they are historic – but (also because) the temple and the bulk of its weight will be sitting on the base isolators,” said Brent Roberts, managing director of special projects.

All the aging mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems will also be replaced. A complete makeover will take place on the temple grounds and inside the temple.

Officials said the goal was to bring back the historic pioneer look from the 1800s.

“We are really working hard to make sure our contribution can be as much of a monument to them as it is a monument to the church,” said church historian Emily Utt.

Church leaders said they hoped the temple would continue to stand as a beacon of light to people across the world.

“We will strive to preserve its reverence, setting and character as originally directed by President Brigham Young,” said President Russell M. Nelson during the April 2019 General Conference. “We promise that you will love the results.”

The closure of the temple and construction work does not shut down Temple Square. The east end of the square was still open and the Conference Center across the street has turned into a new visitor center, where there was still plenty to see and do.

A special 30-minute in-depth look into the massive project will air Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. on KSL TV and the KSL TV app.

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