BOSTON, Mass. Before the doors close Sept. 23 on the Boston temple open house, an estimated 72,000 people will have toured the Church's 100th sacred edifice. Interest in the temple is widespread in the New England area, stemming in large part from the high-profile publicity over its construction.
"The history of our Church, as well as the country, comes in large measure out of New England," said Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy and newly called president of the Boston Massachusetts Temple.
"Many leaders of the Church came from the New England and New York areas. At the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, a great concentration of members, between 300 to 500, lived in Boston alone.
"There is a feeling that this temple comes as something of a reward for those who have gone before and have done so much for this great work."
Much has yet to be done to prepare the temple for dedication Oct. 1.
"But we have been assured it will be ready," said Elder Dunn. Each night painters and carpenters are applying the finishing touches to the ceiling in the baptistry chapel and main chapel. Some mill work also remains.
The interior design is a blend of art deco with traditional New England colors. The woodwork is a light-colored maple. The most visible vestiges of construction are outside where machinery fills the parking lot and where half-filled crates of marble and stone line the temple. Visitors seem to enjoy standing outside to watch construction crews, said Laurie Low, stake public affairs director.
Nearly 8,000 people attended the open house Sept. 16, making a total of 50,000 visitors to date. About 1,500 copies of the Book of Mormon have been requested, with 450 requests coming on just one Saturday.
The afternoon of Sept. 17 was set aside for private tours of local congregations. That day 944 members of various denominations and groups attended. The special tours were offered as an expression of appreciation for the support offered by many denominations. While construction of the temple was still being discussed, many leaders of local congregations wrote "letters to the editor" in support of the temple.
Also, many denominations have opened their parking lots to visitors attending the open house. Approximately every 10 minutes a shuttle bus picks up visitors and returns them to their parking area.
"I didn't understand the significance of the temple [before the tour] that separate, distinct events happen here. It's not a regular building, but a place for a higher level of worship," said Ann Marie Mador, a member of Beth El Temple Center in Belmont.
A member of the Plymouth Congregational Church, Suzanne Alcock, said she had LDS neighbors who were nice. She said she appreciated being "able to see and hear their beliefs and see where these things happen."
A man from Cambridge wrote, "An amazing opportunity to tour such a special place. I'm noting the personal aspect of temple visits, with smallish rooms. Very special."
A woman from Rhode Island wrote, "I was extremely impressed with the beauty of the temple and Jesus Christ. I loved [the idea of] everyone dressing in white."
Among the groups and denominations who attended were officials from the Peabody Essex Museum, officials of the City of Salem, the Boston Rotary Club, the Unitarian Church of Arlington, Waverley Congregational in Belmont, St. Joseph's Church in Belmont, Beth El Temple Center in Belmont, Plymouth Congregational in Belmont, St. Camillus in Arlington, Christian Science Group, St. Paul's Lutheran in Arlington, Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Anti-Defamation League officials, Greek Orthodox Church, Unitarian Church from Harvard, as well as many other business, church and civic leaders.