SALT LAKE CITY — On Friday, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that renovations to the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square will begin in December 2019 and take four years, the Deseret News reported. The temple will reopen in 2024.
In light of this announcement, here are 13 facts about the temple and other historic landmarks on Temple Square.
1. Temple Square is one of the largest tourist attractions in Utah, bringing in between three to five million visitors a year.
2. The Salt Lake Temple's Angel Moroni was sculpted by Cyrus Edwin Dallin. Dallin was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but when the late church president, Wilford Woodruff, asked him to build a statue for the central spire, Dallin researched the church and chose to build a statue of Moroni. The statue was put in place April 6, 1892.
3. While many are familiar with the organs in the Tabernacle, Conference Center and the Assembly Hall, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building has a 2,484 piped organ. It was installed in the JSMB chapel in 1993.
4. Fifteen thousand people attended the first Temple Square Christmas lighting ceremony on Dec. 9, 1965. For the first year, one man named J. Leland Behunin hung all 40,000 lights by himself over the course of six weeks, according to a Temple Square infographic. The church now has several grounds workers who put the lights up and take them down each year.
5. The Nauvoo Bell was originally a gift from British members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Nauvoo Temple. The bell hung for a short time in the Nauvoo Temple, later being placed in a local Protestant church after the saints left Nauvoo. Members of the Lamoreaux family recovered the bell and brought it with them on their journey west. It is now in the bell tower west of the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
7. Mountain Daylight Time was essentially established on Temple Square, according to TempleSquare.com. A sandstone marker near the southeast corner of Temple Square that reads “United States Meridian Base 1869” marks where United States officials established an observatory to determine the Mountain Daylight Time zone.
8. The Salt Lake Temple walls are 9 feet thick at the base and 6 feet thick at the top.
9. Latter-day Saint women from around the world pulled together the funds for the construction of the Relief Society Building, which was completed in 1956. Many of these women's names are listed in books on display.
10. The Assembly Hall is made of granite from the same quarry as the Salt Lake Temple. The pioneers used irregular-shaped blocks and then filled in cracks with mortar to make it more even.
11. Salt Lake City’s grid system begins on Temple Square. On Aug. 3, 1847, the Base and Meridian statuette on the southeast corner of Temple Square became the location from which all city streets were named and numbered.
12. The Temple Square Gardens sit on 35 acres with around 200,000 flowers of 750 varieties. Church employees maintain the garden with the help of more than 1,000 volunteers who pull bulbs each May.
13. Free Temple Square tours are available in 30 languages. These tours are offered by native-speaking guides to help visitors from around the world enjoy the Temple Square experience.