Kirtland Temple reopens for public tours after Church acquires property

Mar 25, 2024, 2:34 PM | Updated: 5:41 pm

KIRTLAND, Ohio — A historic religious building that’s nearly 200 years old has reopened to the public. Monday was the first day of tours at the Kirtland Temple after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acquired the Ohio property earlier this month.

The temple was the first one Latter-day Saint pioneers ever built, dedicated in 1836.

For the last many years, the building has been owned and maintained by the Community of Christ. But earlier this month, news broke that the faith transferred the Kirtland Temple and other property and documents to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Salt Lake City.

Public tours began at 10 a.m. Monday and ran every 30 minutes. Elder Kyle S. McKay, Church historian, told KSL TV the building will be maintained as a historic site open to the public.

“We’re still treating this as the Lord’s house. It’s not an operating temple. But we see it as a place where people can come and connect to the past and events and people of the past,” McKay said.

Church officials said they expect a steady stream of tourists to visit the temple this year, especially starting around Memorial Day.

The temple is three stories high. An hour-long tour takes visitors throughout the entire building, viewing original handiwork and furniture believed to have been used by Church founder Joseph Smith and other early Latter-day Saints.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acquires the Kirtland Temple

McKay said the sacred structure is important as a place where Smith was believed to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ not long after the temple was dedicated.

“We hope that from here on out, as it has been in the past, it will continue to be a sacred reminder of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did there,” McKay said.

Reservations for tours of the Kirtland Temple are not required. They run Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Nathan Johnson, a regional Latter-day Saint leader in the Kirtland area, called the reopening of the temple a “special day” at “one of the most significant religious sites in the world.”

Still, Johnson acknowledged not everyone was celebrating.

“We recognize and are just sensitive to our friends from the Community of Christ for whom today is a difficult day,” Johnson said. “This is a time really of mourning because they’ve been stewards of this sacred place for the last 100 years.”

Johnson said the temple’s reopening under new ownership “is a wonderful opportunity for us to just continue that stewardship to make sure that this sacred place continues to be cared for.”

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Kirtland Temple reopens for public tours after Church acquires property