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 to complete, the Deseret News reported. The temple is scheduled to reopen in 2024.
The Salt Lake Temple has had its share of famous visitors through the years. In addition to famous Temple Square visitors such as John F. Kennedy, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma and David McCullough, here are a few of the other notable visitors.
1. President Ulysses S. Grant
President Grant was the first of several United States presidents to visit Temple Square. Grant stopped in Utah after visiting Colorado in 1875. According to a 2011 Deseret News article, Grant met Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while on the train to Salt Lake City.
Upon meeting him, President Young said, "President Grant this is the first time I have ever seen a president of my country."
2. Oscar Wilde
The acclaimed writer visited Temple Square on April 10, 1882. While visiting, Wilde gave a speech on aesthetics.
Although, according to a 1995 Deseret News article, Wilde wasn't enamored by Temple Square's architecture. He later said, "The Tabernacle was the shape of a soup kettle with decorations suitable for a jail."
Wilde also wasn't much of a hit in Utah. One Deseret News reviewer at the time said, "The lecture was without strength or argument, was delivered in the most flabby and meaningless manner imaginable."
3. President Theodore Roosevelt
In 1903, President Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to speak at the Tabernacle.
4. Queen Liliuokalani
Temple Square has also hosted royalty. Queen Liluokalani of Hawaii visited Utah at least twice. Her name is in the register records on Temple Square for Nov. 26, 1896.
5. Buffalo Bill
Col. W.F. Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, was invited to the Tabernacle on Temple Square for an organ recital on Aug. 14, 1902. He was already in town for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
Cody was impressed by Temple Square. "The most marvelous building, all things considered, I was ever in," he said in a Deseret News article published at the time. He also complimented the organist: "Why, he makes that grand old organ talk."
6. Edward Herrmann
Actor Edward Herrmann was probably best known for his roles as Richard Gilmore in "Gilmore Girls," As FDR in "Eleanor and Franklin" and as Grant Stayton III in the romantic comedy "Overboard." This Emmy and Tony award-winning actor came to Temple Square in 2008 when he performed with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their Christmas concert. He narrated the New Testament Christmas story and "Longfellow’s Christmas."
7. Angela Lansbury
The world renowned Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square have attracted many celebrity performers to Temple Square over the years. Four-time Tony award-winner Angela Lansbury was a featured guest for their 2001 Christmas concert.
After the performance Lansbury said, "I didn’t realize that I was going to be hit by this extraordinary spirit. I haven’t experienced this before. It’s quite unique, people doing something for the love of it.”
8. Sutton Foster
Actress and Broadway star Sutton Foster performed with the choir and orchestra for their 2017 Christmas concert. She sang many classic carols including "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," "Christmas Time is Here" and "Angels We Have Heard on High."
9. Hugh Bonneville
Hugh Bonneville visited Temple Square when he performed in the same concert as Foster. Bonneville is known by many for playing Robert Crawley on "Downton Abbey." He said coming to Temple Square to perform with the choir and orchestra was an honor.
“To us from out of town, it’s quite an experience to come into this vast arena, which all at the same time feels like a home,” Bonneville said.
10. Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth, best known for her role as Glinda in the Broadway musical "Wicked," also performed for the Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. She sang with them in 2018 and said she had watched the choir while growing up.
“This is a bucket list. It’s the music that draws me in every time, so for me it’s part of my DNA. I’m so honored to be here … celebrating the birth of Christ,” Chenoweth said.
11. Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper
Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper were on tour for their AC2 show in 2017 when they made a quick stop to take in the sights at Temple Square. In an Instagram post with the two of them in front of the Salt Lake City Temple, Cohen said Salt Lake City was beautiful.