A look at temple renovations and the Provo and Manhattan temples

Church of Jesus Christ has 9 temples currently under renovation or reconstruction, from the Salt Lake Temple dedicated 130 years ago to temples only a quarter century old

In back-to-back weeks recently, two of the higher-profile temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints closed for extended periods for extensive refurbishment and renewal — and in one case, not just a major renovation of the existing edifice but a redesign and reconstruction, along with a renaming.

The Manhattan New York Temple was the Church’s most recent to close, after its final sessions on March 2, with the project to take approximately three years.

A week before, the Provo Utah Temple closed on Feb. 24 after its final session. Rather than renovating the existing building, the temple will be taken down, with a new-look, redesigned temple to be reconstructed in its place on Provo’s eastern bench. In addition to the redesign and reconstruction, the Church’s First Presidency announced a renaming of the temple — now to be known as the Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple.

The two are among the nine temples undergoing renovation or reconstruction, or announced for renovation — from pioneer-era temples nearly a century and a half old to some that began operations a quarter century ago.

More on the two temples later.

A look at temple renovations

The Church has been renovating temples for decades. Reasons for temple renovations range from updating mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems to expansion of facilities.

Some updates and improvement can be done over a few weeks or months, alleviating the need for a long-term closure. Work is completed, the temple’s schedule hardly interrupted, and the temple reopens and resumes temple operations and ordinances.

Other renovation projects at a temple may require more extensive work and a larger scale of workers and efforts. In those cases, temples close for an extended period, from a number of months up to several years. Some temples have operated for decades prior to a rededication; others have had rededications only just several years after dedication because of needed expansion or building adjustments.

As has been the practice for a number of years and similar to a new temple prior to its dedication, the renovated temple reopens to the general public for a series of events — media-day tours, special-guest visits and a public open house with public tours. The rededication of the renovated house of the Lord follows, in advance to its reopening, to worthy Latter-day Saints participating in temple worship and performing sacred ordinances.

Of the Church’s 189 dedicated temples, many of the older ones have gone through one major renovation resulting in an ensuing rededication; some — such the St. George Utah, Mesa Arizona, Laie Hawaii and Cardston Alberta temples — have gone through two renovations and rededications. That will be the case with the Manti Utah Temple, when it is rededicated a second time next month after its latest major renovation spanning two and a half years.

The Manti Utah and St. George Utah Temples are part of the major restoration and improvement projects of the Church’s pioneer-era temples, which is what is going on with the iconic Salt Lake Temple. That temple has been closed since late 2019, undergoing seismic improvements, expansion and renovation. It is expected to be completed in 2026, with an open house planned prior to its first-ever rededication.

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Renovation continues of the Salt Lake Temple.
The Salt Lake Temple construction continues during the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Older temples that haven’t been rededicated before

The rededication of the Salt Lake Temple will be the first time that the house of the Lord has been rededicated since its 1893 dedication. Ironically, the temple that took 40 years to build hasn’t had a rededication in more than 130 years.

But that’s not to say the Salt Lake Temple hasn’t gone through updates and renovations — just nothing that has resulted in a rededication of the temple.

The Salt Lake Temple closed in 1962 for the demolition of its old annex, extensive cleaning of the stone exterior and upgrades of its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. It reopened 10 months later, with a dedication of a temporary annex that would later become the North Visitors’ Center.

The new annex — housing new sealing rooms, a children’s waiting room, new locker rooms and a new chapel — opened in 1966 and was dedicated the next year.

Dedicated in 1956 as the Church’s 10th operating temple, the Los Angeles California Temple is the next oldest dedicated house of the Lord that hasn’t been rededicated. It did, however, have closures tied to two key anniversaries.

In 1981, 25 years after its dedication, the Los Angeles temple was closed for 10 weeks for remodeling, which included the addition of two rooms. And a seven-month closure for seismic overhaul and a renovation of the baptistry concluded in time to open in the temple’s 50th year.

After that, the next oldest temples that haven’t been renovated are the Seattle Washington Temple (dedicated in 1980) and the threesome of the Manila Philippines, Taipei Taiwan and Guatemala City Guatemala temples, all dedicated in 1984.

The current Anchorage Alaska Temple and a rendering of the planned reconstructed Anchorage Alaska Temple.
The current Anchorage Alaska Temple, left, and a rendering of the planned reconstructed Anchorage Alaska Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Current, planned temple renovations

In addition to the Provo and Manhattan temples mentioned above, the other Latter-day Saint temples currently under renovation or announced for renovation are:

Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple

For more than a half-century, the Provo Utah Temple proved to be one of the Church’s busiest locations — not just as Utah County’s first and longest-operating temple but also with its proximity to both Brigham Young University and the Provo Missionary Training Center, with missionaries at the latter attending the temple weekly.

For example, in 1973, the temple’s first full year of operation, 17.7% of all ordinances worldwide were performed in the temple.

During its upcoming renovation, the 52-year-old Provo Utah Temple will not only be redesigned and reconstructed, but will also be renamed.

Four days before the temple’s Feb. 24 closure for reconstruction, the First Presidency announced that the Provo Utah Temple would be renamed the Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple.

The name stems from its retained location at the mouth of Rock Canyon on Provo’s eastern bench, overlooking the city, Utah Lake and the expansive Utah Valley. And the name helps differentiate even more between Provo’s two houses of the Lord located just 2.4 miles apart.

The Provo Utah Temple as it originally appeared.
The Provo Utah Temple, as it originally looked prior to exterior modifications to the spire and the addition of an angel Moroni statue in 2003. | Kenneth Mays

From announcement to dedication to reconstruction

President Hugh B. Brown and President N. Eldon Tanner, counselors in the First Presidency, announced a temple for Provo Utah, on Aug. 14, 1967, during a meeting with 28 local stake presidencies. It was the first Utah temple announced after the Salt Lake Temple’s dedication in 1893, a difference of almost 75 years.

The temple’s groundbreaking followed on Sept. 15, 1969, with President Brown presiding.

The open house for the Provo Utah Temple ran from Jan. 8 to Jan. 29, 1972, with a total of 246,201 people attending. Special tours were held for groups with unique needs, such as a group for people who were visually impaired who were led by the temple president and told vivid descriptions of what this house of the Lord looked like.

The Provo Utah Temple was dedicated on Feb. 9, 1972, by Church President Joseph Fielding Smith. President Harold B. Lee, first counselor in the First Presidency, read the dedicatory prayer. The temple was dedicated throughout two sessions and broadcast to large auditoriums on the Brigham Young University campus via closed-circuit television.

The Provo Utah Temple covered an area of 130,825 square feet and sat on a 17-acre site. It rose 175 feet high, with a 118-foot spire above the center of the building. The temple had a flat, round base with a spire in the center.

A statue of Angel Moroni is added to the Provo Utah Temple in 2003.
A statue of Angel Moroni is added to the Provo Utah Temple on May 12, 2003, 31 years after it was dedicated. | Photo by Stuart Johnson

The exterior was lined with white cast stone, gold anodized aluminum grills and bronze glass panels. The center spire was originally finished in gold and anodized aluminum. In May 2003, the spire was painted white when a statue of the angel Moroni was placed upon it.

Inside the house of the Lord were six ordinance rooms to allow a new session to start every 20 minutes. The original temple also had a baptistry, a celestial room and 12 sealing rooms. The layout used four floors, including a below-ground floor with the baptistry. The celestial room sat in the center of the top floor, with the ordinance rooms surrounding it.

The top two floors featured a corridor circling around the entire building, a configuration that was inspired by a park surrounded by an elliptical roadway in Copenhagen, Denmark. This design provided an easier flow of patrons and made it almost impossible for one to get lost.

Exterior rendering of the Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple.
Exterior rendering of the Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A second Provo temple and changes for the first

On March 20, 2016, the Church dedicated its Provo City Center Temple, built from the fire-gutted frame of the old Provo Tabernacle and named for its central site in the namesake city.

After identifying 13 locations for new temples in his concluding remarks at the October 2021 general conference, Church President Russell M. Nelson also announced the “reconstruction of the Provo Utah Temple after the Orem Utah Temple is dedicated.”

In November 2021, the Church released an exterior rendering of the redesigned Provo temple.

On June 20, 2023, the Church announced early 2024 dates for both temples — the Jan. 21 dedication of the Orem temple and the Feb. 24 closure date for the Provo temple.

An extreme makeover similar to the Ogden temple

The Ogden Utah Temple.
The Ogden Utah Temple is pictured on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Ogden, Utah. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The extreme makeover of the Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple will be similar to that of its sister sacred edifice, the Ogden Utah Temple, which a decade ago underwent a major renovation and architectural change.

The Provo Utah Rock Canyon Temple will be built to current seismic codes and have reconfigured rooms and energy-efficient electrical, heating and plumbing systems.

Plans call for a building with long, arched windows on the front facade, as well as three white arches in front of the entrance. A multilevel tower with a rectangular base and golden spire will sit above the center of the building.

Manhattan New York Temple

On March 24, 2002, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a special regional conference in New York City and told the congregation a temple would be built in Manhattan within the next two years. Five months later, on Aug. 7, 2002, official plans to construct the Manhattan temple were announced.

On June 13, 2004, President Hinckley dedicated the Manhattan New York Temple in four sessions. Having such a sacred structure built in a busy city countered the constant commotion of New York City’s noisy environment. On the day before the dedication, a youth jubilee program and a member devotional were held in the Radio City Music Hall.

The Manhattan New York Temple in New York  City.
The Manhattan New York Temple in New York City on Thursday, March 3, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

While addressing 5,300 people at the devotional, President Hinckley shared journal entries detailing his visit to Manhattan in March 2002. During that time, he pondered how he could help to establish a house of the Lord in the city. He made a promise to establish a temple in the next few years. Reflecting on his promise, he said, “I have come back to fulfill that promise” and expressed delight for the new temple in New York.

The Manhattan temple was built from an existing building that included a stake center and local and area Church offices. The house of the Lord is a block west of New York City’s Central Park and diagonally across from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at the intersection of Columbia and 65th streets and Broadway.

Artist’s rendering of the renovated Manhattan New York Temple.
Artist’s rendering of the renovated Manhattan New York Temple. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Plans to renovate

On Aug. 28, 2023, the First Presidency announced renovation plans for the Manhattan temple and released an exterior rendering of the updated house of the Lord. The announcement included a projected closure sometime in 2024.

Renovations will include upgrading the meetinghouse on the third floor of the building, with local congregations using that space to be relocated elsewhere during the renovations.

The local and area offices are being relocated during the renovation period, with the chapel at the West End Collegiate Church becoming the home of displaced Latter-day Saint congregations, according to

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article cited an erroneous claim about the Provo Utah Temple’s exterior design by Church architect Emil Fetzer.

Dr. Richard Cowan, BYU emeritus professor of Church History and Doctrine, wrote:  “Over the years, various symbolic meanings have been read into the [Provo] temple’s design. . . . Many local Church members believed the [temple was] designed to symbolize the cloud and pillar of fire that led the ancient Israelites during their wanderings in the desert.  However, Fred Baker, who worked closely with Emil Fetzer in designing the temple, recalled, ‘We didn’t have any symbolism in mind. . . . The truth is that we were so focused on what happened inside the temple, it never entered our mind’ that there should be any symbolism outside” (”Temples in the Tops of the Mountains — Sacred Houses of the Lord in Utah,” by Richard Cowan and Clinton Christensen [Deseret Book, 2023, page 118]).

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