Two landmark LDS temples to close for renovations, will be rededicated

Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
The Washington D.C. Temple closed for extensive renovation in March 2018. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
The Oakland California Temple closed for extensive renovation in February 2018. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
The Oakland California Temple is set for a public open house from May 11 through June 1 — excluding Sundays — prior to its rededication on June 16, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The Oakland California Temple and the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will close for renovations, the First Presidency announced Thursday, Feb. 23.

The Oakland temple will close in February 2018 while the Washington D.C. Temple is scheduled to close in March 2018. “After decades of service, the mechanical systems of both temples will be upgraded and their finishes and furnishings will be refreshed,” according to Church public affairs.

The visitors’ centers outside the temples will stay open during the upcoming closures.

The Oakland temple is expected to be completed in 2019, the Washington D.C. Temple in 2020. Public open houses will be held for both temples before each is rededicated.

The Oakland California Temple

The Oakland California Temple stands on a hill overlooking Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco and the Bay. The Church purchased the 14.5-acre site on Jan. 28, 1943. The Church later acquired additional land, bringing the temple site to 18.3 acres.

The 95,000-square-foot temple is made of reinforced concrete faced with Sierra white granite from Raymond, California.

President David O. McKay broke ground for the temple on May 26, 1962; he dedicated the temple on Nov. 17, 1964. During the dedicatory prayer, President McKay prayed: “This temple is a monument testifying to the faith and loyalty of the members of the Church in the payment of their tithes and offerings. We thank thee for every effort that has been put forth by the members, from every sacrifice that has been made by the young boys and girls who have given their dimes and dollars, to the millionaire who gave of his thousands.”

LDS Church members first arrived in the San Francisco area in 1846. Today, there are 773,762 members, 20 missions (the most of any U.S. state) and seven temples in California, according to Mormon Newsroom.

Oakland California Stake President Darryl P. Rains said members in his stake are determined to utilize the Oakland temple “as much as possible” prior to the closure. His stake is calling additional ordinance workers to help meet the demands of anticipated increases in attendance.

“We do love our temple,” said President Rains. During the closure, most members of his stake will likely make the 90-minute drive to attend the Sacramento California Temple.

The Washington D.C. Temple

Located in Kensington, Maryland, in a prominent location visible from the Capital Belway (Interstate 495), the Washington D.C. Temple is a half-hour drive from downtown Washington, D.C.

The 52-acre site was selected in 1962. The temple is made of reinforced concrete sheathed in 173,000 square feet of Alabama white marble, according to the Deseret News Church Almanac.

Principal architect Keith W. Wilcox reported that the design of the temple portrays the Church as a “light to the world.” The three towers to the east represent the Melchizedek Priesthood leadership and those to the west represent the Aaronic Priesthood leadership, according to the Church almanac.

President Hugh B. Brown broke ground for the temple on Dec. 7, 1968. President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the 160,000 square-foot temple on Nov. 19, 1974. “We are so grateful, our Father, that thy Son has thrown wide open the doors of the prisons for the multitudes who are waiting in the spirit world,” he prayed.

The Washington D.C. Temple is one of Maryland’s most prominent landmarks. In the decade and a half after the temple was dedicated, Church membership around the nation’s capital increased by some 200 percent, according to Mormon Newsroom. In November of 2000, the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center, located adjacent to the temple in Kensington, was rededicated after remodeling and the installation of many new state-of-the-art exhibits.

President John D. Jackson, who presides over the Annapolis Maryland Stake, said the closure will surely impact the members of his stake and throughout the greater-capital city region.

“The Washington D.C. Temple has become such an important landmark in the D.C. area — we [are going to] miss it,” he said.

The recently-dedicated Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple, located about a 2 ½-hour drive north from Annapolis, will likely be a popular destination for many temple-goers during the closure.

Today, there are 43,387 members, two missions and 15 family history centers in Maryland. The Church has 2,624 members and one family history center in Washington, D.C., according to Mormon Newsroom.

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