Washington, D.C. Temple: A Sacred Monument

Sep 26, 2022, 7:37 PM | Updated: 7:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Washington, D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sits on 52 acres just outside our nation’s Capitol.

This year, following renovation, President Russell M. Nelson rededicated it.

Since 1974, The Washington, D.C. Temple has been an iconic landmark seen by everyone who drives on the 495 Beltway.

“The Washington, D.C. Temple: Divine By Design” is a history of the temple by award-winning journalist Dale Van Atta.  “The ordinances and the work that goes on inside with the members are designed to be divine.”

This temple was the 16th of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the first in the Eastern United States.

Thousands of Virginia Latter-day Saints celebrate the rededicated Washington D.C. Temple

Van Atta wrote of its unique location, “It was the last piece of undeveloped, majestic property overlooking Washington.”

Ownership of the land, he said, changed hands over the centuries often with a connection to faith.Colonists first settled it in the name of King James I of England. Latter-day Saints use the King James version of the Bible.

Then it passed to the Carroll family. John Carroll became a Jesuit priest and built a chapel there.Daniel, his brother, and a member of the Continental Congress spoke in favor of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion.


Then a farmer, Albert Ray owned the property. He often rode his horse to a specific spot to pray. Van Atta tells the story, “His granddaughter who was this historian took a friend to the property and pointed to where the temple was being built. So she said ‘this is precisely where my grandfather took me and told me it was holy ground.’”

Van Atta said during both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War – no battle was ever fought on this land.

A group of Jewish businessmen was the last to own the property.

When you see it, it’s hard to imagine that in 1962, the pristine land was within days of being sold to a developer for commercial buildings. Robert Barker, the Church attorney at the time, met with one of them and made the request.

Van Atta said he went from a lunch meeting to a discussion of faith. “We want to buy it to build a temple there. And then he moves straight into a very powerful and emotional speech of gratitude to the Jewish people for having shown the Latter-day Saints how to build temples, the importance of temples, and that they still call their synagogues, temples.”

They reached an agreement and the temple was built and dedicated in 1974 by President Spencer W. Kimball.

But starting in 2018, this temple closed for more than four years for renovation and because of the pandemic.

Then this year came the public Open House and a Rededication led by President Russell M. Nelson.

The iconic landmark glistens once again.

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Washington, D.C. Temple: A Sacred Monument