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Mormon temple in Ogden to get makeover

OGDEN — Remodel, renovate and revitalize — those were the words most commonly used when plans to update the Ogden Utah Temple were announced Wednesday by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the modern vernacular, call it an "extreme makeover."

Built nearly 40 years ago, the Ogden Temple is in need of upgrading — to feature the latest technology and material, to meet seismic requirements, to have more energy-efficient and modern mechanical systems and to reflect the redevelopment occurring in downtown Ogden.

"This will be a major renovation of an existing temple that had become somewhat dated," said Elder William R. Walker of the Quorums of the Seventy and executive director of the LDS Church's Temple Department.

"It will be redone in a way that will be like a brand-new temple. This temple will be magnificent and beautiful in every way when it's redone."

David B. Hall, director of temple and special projects, called the renovation "a project of opportunity," with the new exterior design more "temple classical," similar to the recent Draper Utah Temple.

The Ogden temple will be stripped of its pre-cast "skin," and replaced with an exterior of new stone and more glass. The center tower in the new design is consistent with the center spire of the temple's current design.

"It's not as invasive as it appears," Hall said of the redesign. "It's still the same bonelike structure."

The core building design will remain the same, although the floor layout may be changed for what has been one of the busiest, highly utilized temples in the LDS Church.

No closing date for the temple or project timeline has been set — it could be later this year or early next, Elder Walker said.

The temple is not the sole aspect of the project, which has yet to have a start date affixed or a closing date set for temple operations.

Other changes include moving the temple's front entrance from the its west side to the east, facing Washington Boulevard and having a street-side drop-off; removing the two-story parking structure and adding underground parking; installing a large water fountain on the east side and gardens on the west; and eliminating the drive-through entrance.

The adjacent Ogden Tabernacle will receive some renovation attention — the most major change being the removal of its spire so it doesn't compete with the temple's spire.

"This represents what some may call 'the Ogden Temple Square,' " said Bishop Keith B. McMullin, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.

The project is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

All said there are no such plans for the LDS Church's Provo Utah Temple, considered Ogden's identical sister structure given its similar design and construction timeline.

"This is like Christmas for a mayor," said Ogden mayor Matthew R. Godfrey, adding that the LDS Church's temple-renovation project coupled with its recent $1.5 million contribution to Ogden's homeless shelter "represents a breadth of compassion and a breadth of commitment that the church has here in Ogden."

Ogden Utah Temple

Announced: Aug. 24, 1967

Groundbreaking: Sept. 8, 1969

Dedication: Jan. 18-20, 1972 by President Joseph Fielding Smith

The fifth temple built in Utah.

The first temple built with six ordinance rooms. The only others with six: Provo Utah, Jordan River and Washington D.C. temples

Original design included a gold-leafed Angel Moroni statue atop a gold-colored spire. Eliminated from the design, such a statue was added three decades later.

The LDS Church's 14th operating temple when dedicated. Now, 130 are in operation, with another 32 announced or under construction.

The Ogden Utah Temple district comprises 76 stakes and some 262,000 members in Utah and Wyoming.