TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — As they dug a garden for her new home here in 1985, Mariá Luisa Torres explained to her father that the was once called the Church Farm, a place where early pioneers settled to farm so they could feed themselves and other Latter-day Saints as they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.

The city was named for John Taylor, the third president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because some of the settlers were baptized by him in England. And the area near where they dug had been owned by Joseph F. Smith, the sixth church president.

Jesus Raul Quesada had asked Torres to explain the area’s history while he knelt in the soil and thoughtfully sifted it in his hands.

“This place is sacred,” he told his daughter when she finished. “I feel that one day, there will be a temple here.”

This Saturday, the doors of the new Taylorsville Utah Temple, two blocks from that garden on the site once owned by President Smith, will open for free public tours, and area residents are looking forward to sharing the sacred nature of the temple with visitors.

Reservations are available here. The open house is scheduled to run from Saturday, April 13, through Saturday, May 18, 2024, excluding Sundays. The first photos of the temple were released to coincide with a media tour on Tuesday morning.

Latter-day Saint temples point people to Jesus Christ, Torres and others said as they led journalists on the preview tour.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to welcome the public to tour this temple,” said Elder Kevin W. Pearson, the Utah Area president and a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “In coming weeks, tens of thousands or even several hundred thousand people will come and tour this beautiful temple.”

He said many will be interested to see what the inside of the temple looks like after watching its construction on the I-215 interchange with 4700 South on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley.

“People are always interested in what the temple looks like on the outside, the architecture, how it’s furnished on the inside, but what we hope is that you’ll pay particular attention to what happens inside of the temple, because that makes all the difference,” he said. “We don’t come for the furnishings. We come for the blessings and the spiritual power, the hope, the reassurance, the confidence, the increase in our faith that comes as we come to the house of the Lord and worship our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

One of those who has watched the construction on her daily commute is Sister Tracy Y. Browning, second counselor in the church’s Primary general presidency. She noted that the Taylorsville temple, like all Latter-day Saint temples, have words etched in the stone above its doors:

  • “Holiness to the Lord.
  • “The House of the Lord.”

“I hope as people tour the temple, they’ll see how the temple expresses the name branded on the front,” she said.

She called the completion of a temple a joyful event, and said each comes with “a joyful invitation to His children to come and come in and be in His presence here. ... Everything about it is a celebration, and we celebrate with a joyful welcoming, from the open house all the way to the dedication.”

The temple’s exterior stone cladding has a soft tan color. Inside, woodwork and metalwork are a deep brown, and furnishings follow a deep burgundy, lavender and gold color palette, according to a church news release.

There also are original paintings, including one of Jesus Christ standing in a golden archway and a pair on opposite sides of the temple’s chapel that depict Christ’s birth and Zacharias holding his eight-day-old son, John the Baptist, and prophesying about him going before Christ “to prepare his ways.”

All of the artwork, like the architecture, is “designed to help us remember as we come into this space, that the blessings in life flow from Jesus Christ,” said Elder James R. Rasband, a General Authority Seventy who serves as an assistant executive director of the church’s Temple Department.

Elder Rasband noted that some of the building’s features are related to the Wasatch Mountains on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley and the Oquirrh Mountains on the west side, including stylized versions of local wildflowers.

“I love this beautiful pioneer-era, Gothic architecture that reminds us of buildings throughout Utah and the valley,” he said. “I love that there are wildflower motifs that remind us of the beautiful summer wildflowers in the Oquirrhs, but that’s not for us what it’s about. Those beautiful expressions are just ways of saying how much we want to honor the Lord.

“For us, more than the physical beauty, the temple bears witness for us of Jesus Christ, and that through him and through his resurrection, each of us will overcome death and live again, and that we can live (eternally) not just individually but as part of families.”

Sister Browning said temples are expressions of what Jesus Christ called the two great commandments in the New Testament. First, church members show their love for God when they first attend the temple by making covenants — or promises and commitments — with him to follow him. Second, they attend temples to love others by doing temple ordinances for deceased ancestors as a free-will offering those ancestors may accept or reject.

“Once the temple is dedicated, then those who will enter the temple will be church members who are striving to live a Christlike life and have been certified by their leaders that that’s what they’re trying to do. And so it’s not open to the general public. And what this does for this next period is give us an opportunity to show the public what the house of the Lord looks like and here’s what we do here.” President Russell M. Nelson announced the Taylorsville temple in October 2019.

The temple is the first in Taylorsville and will be the 21st in Utah, where a total of 30 temples now are scheduled to be built.

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The temple will be dedicated on June 2 by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Gong presided over the groundbreaking service in October 2020.

The Gongs have a special connection to the Taylorsville temple location. Sister Susan Gong’s father was bishop of the local Latter-day Saint ward when a chapel opened on the site. That chapel was razed in 2020 to make room for the temple.

“It’s a very special blessing to participate in any temple groundbreaking and site dedication,” Elder Gong said at the groundbreaking. “All of us feel connected in each of those, but for us here particularly with the multiple generations in our own family, it is a special privilege. ... Our father and grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather all had served as bishops here in Taylorsville. So many of those that we love have been associated here over many generations, so it’s a very special blessing.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, second from the right, and others turn the soil during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Taylorsville Utah Temple in Taylorsville on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. | Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Taylorsville Utah Temple is the the fifth in the Salt Lake Valley, following the Salt Lake Temple (1893), the Jordan River Utah Temple (1981), the Draper Utah Temple (2009) and the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple (2009).

The temple is located at 2603 West 4700 South in Taylorsville. It is 70,000 square feet and includes a center spire. It was built on a 7.5-acre site that included a field and a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse that serves as a stake center, the headquarters for a group of congregations.

Elder Pearson grew up in the valley and visited his grandparents every Sunday in their home near where the temple is now.

Torres raised five children in the home where her father helped build her garden, two blocks from the temple site. When she sold the home and moved, she and her husband bought another across town. Now she has grandchildren graduating from Taylorsville High School the way her children did before them.