North Visitors’ Center to be demolished as part of Temple Square renovation and replaced with gardens

The North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square is being decommissioned and scheduled for demolition later this year, with its northwest section of Temple Square proper to be replaced in coming years with gardens and contemplative space.

Announced Thursday, June 10, on Newsroom, the demolition is part of the ongoing Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square renovations efforts and in line with the announcement two years ago from President Russell M. Nelson that the renovations are to “enhance, refresh and beautify the temple and its surrounding grounds.”

“The plans for this area will also provide a more direct and clear view of the Salt Lake Temple from the northwest area of Temple Square, enhancing the prominence of the temple,” said Andy Kirby, the Church’s director of historic temple renovations.

The gardens and contemplative space are expected to be completed by 2023.

Plans call for restrooms to be added to support public events held in the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall.

“The North Visitors’ Center has already begun the process of decommissioning,” Kirby said. “This means that all art, exhibits and materials will be removed from the building in preparation for the work. After that process, crews will begin evaluation for abatement of any hazardous materials.”

Designed by architect Edward Anderson, the North Visitors’ Center was built in 1963 to welcome visitors to Temple Square arriving from the north side of the block. During its duration, the North Visitors’ Center hosted art exhibits, exhibits about the Church and film experiences.

For more than a half-century, an 11-foot statue of Jesus Christ has served as the centerpiece. It is a replica created in the 1950s of the original Christus made by sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and found in The Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark. And it’s the first of a number of similar replica statues the Church has placed in visitors’ centers and other locations worldwide.

A view of the Christus statue through the rotunda window of the North Visitors' Center. A view of the Christus statue in the North Visitors' Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
A view of the Christus statue through the rotunda window of the North Visitors’ Center. A view of the Christus statue in the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Crafted from Italian white marble, the statue of the Savior with outstretched arms was featured in the second-floor rotunda, in front of 46-foot-high walls painted with a 166-foot mural of heaven and earth. The stars in the rotunda replicate how the sky looked in the Northern Hemisphere at midnight April 6, 1830 — the date The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.

The Christus statue will be removed and placed in storage for conservation. It will be reinstalled on Temple Square at the end of the renovation process.

At the January 2020 start of the Temple Square renovation project, the main arrival and primary venue for guests visiting Temple Square shifted to the Conference Center. Closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Conference Center is reopening on June 14.

At the Conference Center, patrons can see a smaller replica of the Christus statue, the cutaway model of the Salt Lake Temple and premier views of Temple Square and the temple renovation.

Also available are immersive and interactive experiences to help visitors understand the history and significance of the Salt Lake Temple, including an orientation film, a media presentation about the importance of social and religious gatherings, historical artifacts and sacred art galleries.

Guests can take tours — either self-guided or with missionaries — in the Conference Center. Visit TempleSquare.org for more information.

Correction: An earlier version of this story noted that the Christus statue in the Temple Square North Visitors’ Center had been removed earlier this year and placed in storage. The Christus statue has not yet been removed from Temple Square.