After more than two years of renovations the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple opens to the public this weekend for a month long open house. The Idaho Falls Temple was originally built in the 1940s and closed in March 2015 for interior renovations.
The temple’s electrical and mechanical systems were all upgraded, but architecturally, crews attempted to keep the design as close to the original as possible.
“The team spent lots of time reviewing the historical data that we had on the temple,” said Mark Berry, a project manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The architect and the design teams went back through and picked out the type of materials that [were] prevalent back in the original temple.”
Emily Utt, historic sites curator for the Church History Department, said in a news release “The Idaho Falls Temple is this grand architectural statement about where the Church wanted [to] be in its next hundred years, as much as the Salt Lake Temple is a statement about where it had been for the last hundred years. We wanted this temple to still feel like it had been built in the 1940s. We didn’t want this to feel like a brand-new building.”
“The Idaho Falls Temple is this fantastic piece of modern design. It’s forward thinking. It’s looking to the millennium; it’s looking to the future of the Church where every temple that came before was looking to the past, looking to its pioneer heritage,” continued Utt.
Berry added that great care was taken to preserve the murals inside the temple. “We actually built plywood walls in front of these murals to protect them so that there wouldn’t be any construction debris that would scar up or mar any of the murals.”
“These murals were painted by the leading LDS artists in the 1930s and ’40s,” said Utt. “These murals represent the finest work of some of the greatest artists that the Church has ever produced.”
The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was the 8th Mormon temple to be built and the first to be built in Idaho. Plans were announced to build the temple on March 3, 1937. Construction of the temple was completed during wartime, but the dedication waited until the end of World War II. J. Reuben Clark Jr. of the First Presidency, the highest governing body of the Church, conducted cornerstone ceremony on Saturday, October 19, 1940 when approximately 15,000 people attended. The temple was dedicated by President George Albert Smith on September 23, 1945. The temple has undergone several renovations, including completing a visitors’ center in 1960, and attaching a statue of the angel Moroni to the temple’s steeple in 1983.
Kevin Call, one of the many residents who grew up in the Upper Snake River Valley, said “our family has been in the valley since the turn of the century in the early 1900s. The temple has been a prominent thing for us, not only church-wise but community-wise. It’s been such a monument on the river, a beautiful place.”
Now, the Idaho Falls Temple is one of four operating temples in Idaho, including the Twin Falls Idaho Temple, Boise Idaho Temple and Rexburg Idaho Temple. A fifth temple in Meridian is scheduled to be dedicated November 19. Plans were also announced in general conference earlier this month to build a temple in nearby Pocatello.
The open house at the temple, located at 1000 Memorial Drive, runs from Saturday, April 22, through Saturday, May 20, 2017, except for Sundays, April 23, April 30, May 7 and May 14, 2017. Free reservations for tours can be made at www.templeopenhouse.lds.org.
The temple will be formally rededicated on Sunday, June 4, 2017, in three sessions. Prior to the rededication of the temple, local youth will present a cultural celebration featuring music and dance on Saturday, June 3, 2017.
More information on photos of the Idaho Falls temple can be seen at mormonnewsroom.org.