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St. George Temple making progress two years into renovation

Mar 29, 2022, 4:44 PM
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ST. GEORGE, Utah— Contractors continue with various upgrades to help the pioneer-era St. George Temple, dedicated in 1877. It was the first temple to be completed in Utah and the oldest operating temple in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The exterior of the St. George Temple north addition is ready for painting, November 2021. (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“One of the main things that we’ve done the last year is to finish all the primary upgrades we needed to do to the historic temple,” Eric Jamison, project manager of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said.

In the foreground, steel fabricated stairs stand ready for installation in the St. George Utah Temple as workers prep the exterior temple for painting. Once completed, the historic temple and the new north and west additions will be seamless in appearance.(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

In addition to upgrades, a new addition on the west side of the temple is underway, along with extensive landscaping and an underground irrigation system.

A smart weather irrigation system is being installed that will know the optimum time to water the vegetation at the St. George Temple in St. George, Utah, November 2021.(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

According to a release from the Church, “the exterior of the north addition is ready for painting and improvements to the grounds are on schedule.”

“This job demands perfection,” said Lorenzo Brieno, framing foreman from Pete King Commercial.

A taper sands a wall in the north addition of the St. George Utah Temple in preparation for painting in January 2022. The walls in the temple are required to be the highest standard in the construction industry: a level-five finish. That means they are the smoothest that can be achieved to match plaster walls found in the historic temple.(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“There are some walls that feel like glass they’re so smooth. They have a special skill, and you can tell that they care about their work,” Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations for the Church said.

The Church said all walkways, planters and landscaping are nearing completion and drought tolerant shrubbery and trees are being planted to be well rooted in anticipation of  surviving the heat of the summer.

The walkways, planters and landscaping are nearing completion. Drought tolerant shrubbery and trees are ready for an early spring planting, St. George, Utah, November 2021.(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The release stated, “In addition, a sophisticated smart weather irrigation system is being installed that will know the optimum time to water the vegetation.”

“We all want the people to feel peace, even on the ground. The grounds [are] an extension of the temple,” said Chris Reilly, landscape project manager from Stratton and Bratt.

The renovation also includes structural reinforcement of the temple’s stone foundation and an upgrade of electrical and mechanical systems.

“We were able to get in and now work on all the mechanicals, electrical and then get into the finish work,” Jamison said.

“I’m responsible for anything that has water in it. That’s the heating, the air conditioning, all the drain waste and vent domestic water,” Bob Kropf, the plumbing and mechanical foreman from U.S. Mechanical said.

Landscapers make ready the smart irrigation system and plants in January 2022 on the St. George Utah Temple grounds. These efforts now will help ensure a lush grounds experience at the open house after completion of the renovated historic temple.(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Large efforts have been made to match the original woodwork in the historic temple.

“When patrons walk into the north entrance of the temple, they’ll feel like they’re in the historic temple, and that’s consistent throughout the building,” Kirby said.

Arched doorways of maple and poplar in the north addition of the St. George Utah Temple replicate original millwork in the historic temple, January 2022. Guests will experience a seamless transition from the north addition to the historic part of the temple. (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

“The thing that I’m most proud of is, I think, the teams that have worked together — both contractor, architect, engineers — being able to collaborate and to make something this challenging work,” Jamison said. “It’s just an honor to be able to work on a house of the Lord.”

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St. George Temple making progress two years into renovation