More than a million visitors — by far the largest number of any pre-dedication temple open house in history — are expected to tour the new Draper Utah Temple in a public open house that began Thursday, Jan. 15, and will extend through March 14.
As of Tuesday morning, Jan. 13, the number of open house reservations distributed was 1.08 million, expected to surpass 1.1 million by the end of the week. By comparison, the Jordan River Temple, the last temple constructed in the Salt Lake Valley, drew 568,342 visitors during its open house in September and October of 1981.
Robert Reeve of the Temple Department said on Jan. 13 that 150,000 reservations were still available, mostly for the daytime hours. "Almost all of the Saturdays and evenings are gone," he said.
Tours are being conducted on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Advance reservations can be made online at lds.org/reservations or by calling 1-800-537-6181 or (801) 240-7932.
Nestled on a prominence in the Corner Canyon area of the southeast foothills of the Salt Lake Valley at 14065 Canyon Vista Lane in Draper, the new edifice is the 12th temple in Utah and the third of what soon will be four operating temples in the valley. Others are the Salt Lake Temple, dedicated in April 1893, and the Jordan River Utah Temple, dedicated in November 1981. The new Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple on the west edge of the valley is nearing completion; its open house and dedication dates are yet to be announced.
The Draper temple will be formally dedicated March 20-22 in 12 sessions.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that the Church is growing right here in our own state," said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve in a conversation with the Church News on Jan. 9 following two previews of the temple he and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Twelve conducted for news reporters, one for the national media representatives the day before and one for local media. "Demographic shifts have something to do with this, as people are moving away from the inner city and moving out to the southeast and southwest." He said it has always been the policy of the Church leadership to keep the temples as close to the people as possible, and he noted that the new temple district comprises some 60,000 Latter-day Saints.
Referring to the original settlers of the area in the 1850s, and specifically to William Draper Jr. who was the first bishop of the settlement in 1852, Elder Ballard said, "You have to know that the pioneer, Brother Draper, who settled out here is looking down upon all of this and that he has got to be smiling to think that the little town where he came and settled and fought to survive now has a house of the Lord."
The temple's features subtly reflect this pioneer legacy as well the geographic beauty of the setting. Murals in the two endowment instruction rooms – one painted by Utah artist Linda Curley Christensen and the other by Colorado artist Keith Bond – depict mountain scenes typical of the temple's canyon locale. The inclusion of a sego lily motif, carved into woodwork, sewn into carpet and etched into art glass, hearkens back to the survival efforts of the pioneer settlers who subsisted on the bulb of that indigenous plant as they struggled to make the valley habitable.
Many longtime Draper residents will recognize a painting that hangs in the foyer of the baptistry. It depicts the angel Moroni delivering the Nephite plates to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The painting was displayed in the Draper Tabernacle, a building that no longer exists, and has since been displayed elsewhere.
Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy, executive director of the Temple Department, said the new structure is a "medium-size temple," some 58,000 square feet, about a quarter of the size of the Salt Lake Temple. Seating capacity of the ordinance rooms is 50, compared with 120 in the Jordan River Temple.
The temple has two each of what Elder Walker called "A" and "B" ordinance rooms, with patrons progressing from one room to the other during the endowment ceremony ending in the celestial room.
On the exterior, the new temple is unique in that the gold-plated angel Moroni statue stands on a ball and shaft that themselves are colored gold.
The new temple will differ somewhat in procedure from larger temples in Utah. It has no cafeteria for patrons and no clothing rental facilities. Attendance at the temple will be by reservation, but only during busy periods, Elder Walker said.
During the news media tour, Elder Ballard took occasion to dispel misconceptions he has found among the national news media that secrecy enshrouds the Church and its temples. "A lot of the press at that level didn't realize that we have 18,000 meetinghouses, that we've got 53,000 missionaries doing everything they know how to gather people in to come and sit and worship with us in our meetinghouses," Elder Ballard said. "But we have these now-129 temples that are set apart for this particularly sacred work."
He suggested that visitors on the tour would feel the sacred nature and blessing of having a house of the Lord. "And then, I think it goes away, this issue of 'secret' in relation to the sacred nature of the work that's done here in the temples of the Lord."
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Information on temples from lds.org
History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Draper, Utah
The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Draper, Utah – an area once known to Native Americans as Sivogah, meaning willows – goes back to 1847, when Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. In that year, Joshua Terry and Levi Savage made their camp in South Willow Creek (Draper) as they worked in the canyons and neighboring fields.
In December 1850, Church President Brigham Young assigned Ebenezer Brown to settle South Willow Creek. By 1852, it had grown to a community of 20 families whose livelihood was farming and raising cattle and sheep. These early settlers had some difficulty with swampy conditions but soon constructed a canal system to solve the problem.
The first Latter-day Saint congregation in the area was organized in September 1852, with William Draper Jr. as its local ecclesiastical leader. South Willow Creek was later renamed Draperville or Draper in his honor.
Draper residents were prominent in the early history of the Church in the Salt Lake Valley. Gurnsey Brown was a member of the 1856 team that rescued the Martin and Willie handcart companies after their tragic struggle on the plains of Wyoming during an early winter storm. Dr. John R. Park, another early resident, was a gifted educator and later became the president of the University of Deseret, known today as the University of Utah.
Growth in the Draper community was steady. In 1860 a small building known as "The Vestry" was constructed. It became known as the "Old White Meetinghouse" after a main hall was added in 1863. The building served Draper's church and public meeting needs for many years
As the population in the Salt Lake Valley expanded southward, many of Draper's farmlands were replaced by houses and businesses. The Jordan River Utah Temple was dedicated in 1981, serving tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints in Draper and neighboring communities. On Oct. 2, 2004, the First Presidency announced the construction of a temple in Draper. The groundbreaking ceremony was performed by then-Church President Gordon B. Hinckley on Aug. 5, 2006.
Now, more than a century and a half since the first Latter-day Saints settled the area, the Draper Utah Temple stands on a high point overlooking the city, with a dramatic mountain backdrop. Considered a "house of the Lord," it will serve approximately 60,000 members of the Church in Draper and surrounding communities. It will open to the public for tours on Thursday, Jan. 15, and be dedicated March 20 through March 22.
Draper Utah Temple facts:
Plans announced: Oct. 2, 2004
Groundbreaking: Aug. 5, 2006
Public open house: Thursday, Jan. 15, through Saturday, March 14, 2009 (excluding Sundays)
Dedication: Friday through Sunday, March 20-22, 2009
Location: 14065 Canyon Vista Lane, Draper, Utah 84020
Property size: Approximately 12 acres, including adjacent meetinghouse
Building size: 58,300 square feet
Building height: 50 feet 10 inches; 168 feet 8 inches to the top of the angel Moroni statue
Angel Moroni statue: 10 feet 8 inches tall
Exterior features: white granite from China; window art-glass by Utah artist Tom Holdman, bronze doors.
Interior features: limestone floor tile and limestone base imported from Lyon, France; makore wood, imported from west coast of central Africa and used in doors, trim, wood paneling and cabinets; recurring design of sego lily – the Utah state flower – in art-glass (by Holdman) and decorative painting; murals in instruction rooms, depicting mountain scenes, by Utah artist Linda Curley Christensen and Colorado artist Keith Bond.
Architects: FFKR Architects
Contractor: Okland Construction
When dedicated, this will be the Church's 129th operating temple worldwide and the 12th in Utah. Other temples in Utah are located in Logan, Ogden, Bountiful, Salt Lake City, South Jordan, American Fork, Provo, St. George, Manti, Monticello and Vernal.
The Draper Utah Temple will serve more than 60,000 Latter-day Saints living in the Draper area – members of 25 stakes.