OGDEN -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans Wednesday to do a major remodeling of the Ogden temple that will dramatically change its appearance.
"We feel it will be a blessing," said Elder William R. Walker, a member of the church's First Quorum of Seventy, in making the announcement. "It will assist in renovating downtown Ogden."
Walker made the announcement in the Ogden Tabernacle along with Bishop Keith B. McMullin of the church's Presiding Bishopric and Ogden Mayor Matthew R. Godfrey.
"This is like Christmas for a mayor, to have an announcement like this," Godfrey said at the news conference. "The temple sits as a centerpiece to all that's going on around it."
In an interview, Godfrey said while it wasn't within the realm of Ogden officials to plan for such a change, the renovation will fulfill an important dream of city planners who have worked to revitalize the city.
"From a sheer numbers standpoint, I don't know of another downtown attraction that brings as many visitors," he said.
Godfrey believes a more beautiful temple will boost the Ogden economy.
"The visual quality of the new temple will be a draw in and of itself," he said. "It is so spectacular."
He cited an increased number of weddings there as one example of its ability to bring more people into Ogden.
"We have not been on the radar for temple weddings," he said.
Walker wasn't yet sure when the renovations would begin, but it may be toward the end of the year. He predicted the temple would be closed for 18 months to two years.
Workers will reshape the temple's entire exterior with new stone and art glass. A new entrance to the temple will face to the east and will be visible from Washington Boulevard. Those attending the temple for baptisms will enter through the existing entrance, he said.
Inside, workers will reconfigure some rooms, but the core building design will remain the same, he said. Old electrical, heating and plumbing systems will be replaced with modern, energy-saving equipment.
Other notable improvements include underground parking and a complete relandscaping of the temple block with a major water feature.
"I can tell you the First Presidency is very pleased with this," McMullin said. "They are happy with what's been presented to them."
Pointing to an artist's rendering of the changes, he said, "We are very pleased with the surroundings and how they are complementary of the surroundings for downtown Ogden."
In an interview, McMullin made a comparison to the future changes and Temple Square in Salt Lake City, calling the block "Ogden Temple Square."
He explained that workers will rearrange vehicle travel on the temple grounds and add landscaping, making the area more inviting for pedestrian visitors.
McMullin was asked if the changes were a precursor to a similar remodel to the Provo temple, which looks much like the Ogden temple.
"Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis," he said, stating that he is not aware of any plans for changes in Provo.
The Ogden temple, at 350 22nd St., currently serves approximately 76 stakes and comprises approximately 261,928 church members, according to information from the church.
During the construction project, members are encouraged to attend other area temples, including those in Logan and Bountiful. The church announced in October it will build a temple in Brigham City, but that project's start date is independent of this one.
The Ogden temple was originally dedicated in 1972 as the 14th operating temple for the church and the fifth in Utah.
There now are 130 operating temples and 22 more in various stages of planning and construction.
LDS temples provide a place where church members make formal promises and commitments to God and where the highest sacraments of the faith occur, such as the marriage of couples for eternity, states information released by the church.
Temples differ from the tens of thousands of local meetinghouses where members typically meet for Sunday worship services and midweek social activities.
The first Utah temple was completed in St. George in 1877, followed by Logan in 1884, Manti in 1888, Salt Lake City in 1893 and Ogden in 1972.
The Ogden Temple
- The Ogden temple was the fifth temple built in Utah and the second built along the Wasatch Front by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- The first LDS temple dedicated in the state of Utah was the Ogden temple. The four previous temples were dedicated in the Utah Territory more than 78 years earlier.
- The Ogden temple was the first the church built with six ordinance rooms, allowing sessions to begin every 20 minutes. Only three other temples since have that number of ordinance rooms. They are the Provo, Jordan River and Washington, D.C., temples.
- The original design for the Ogden temple included a gold-leafed statue of the angel Moroni atop a gold-colored spire. The statue was eventually eliminated from the design. An angel Moroni statue was added in 2002.
- Officials broke ground for the Ogden temple on the 96th birthday of church President David O. McKay, originally from Huntsville. He died four months later. The temple was dedicated on the second anniversary of his passing.
- Emil B. Fetzer was the original architect for the Ogden temple. Fetzer was head architect for the church from 1965 to his retirement in 1986.
- The Ogden temple district includes Brigham City on the north, Evanston, Kemmerer and Riverton, Wyo., on the east and Syracuse on the south.
Major renovations for Ogden temple
OGDEN -- Major renovations to the Ogden temple were announced today by a spokesman from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Church officials today held a press conference on the temple grounds that included representatives from the church's hierarchy as well as city officials.
The changes to the structure, originally dedicated in 1972, include a major overhaul of both the interior and exterior, giving the building a whole new look, officials said.
One of the changes to the 131,000-square- foot facility is a reworking of the temple's entrance.
The new entrance will face east rather than west, officials said.
Another major change will be the addition of underground parking.
The Ogden temple was fifth one built in Utah, according to information published by the church, and was the first to be dedicated after Utah gained statehood.
As the first built with six ordinance rooms, the Ogden temple accommodates endowment sessions that begin every 20 minutes, according to Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published by Thunder Bay Press in 2009.
The book states that future temples designed to be "high-traffic" facilities followed a similar design. Those temples included Provo, Jordan River and Washington, D.C.
In 2002, the temple's previously gold-colored 180-foot spire was painted white and topped off with an Angel Moroni statue.
The temple served 71 stakes in Utah and five stakes in Wyoming at the time the book was published.
The structure currently is designed with white cast stone adorned with gold anodized aluminum grillwork.
The temple was closed for two weeks earlier this month as workers undertook major cleaning of the facility.
Ogden temple goers again will be attending other area temples as the building undergoes the new renovations.