Demolition crews have torn down the 20th-century additions on the north and west sides of the St. George Temple as renovation of the historic edifice cranks up.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints closed the 142-year-old temple in November 2019 to facilitate extensive upgrades to structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

“One of the aspects of this project is preserving the original building,” project manager Eric Jamison said in a Monday news release. “The structure of the building is in fantastic condition, given its age.”

Crews also are salvaging the removed materials — from concrete to steel — for recycling.

“The point of all of this is to preserve the building while making it safer and more functional,” Emily Utt, the church’s historic sites curator, said in the release.

Small historical details have emerged as the work has progressed on Utah’s first Latter-day Saint temple, which was constructed of red sandstone and plastered over in white.

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The exterior window of the St. George Temple is uncovered Jan. 20, 2020, after more than 40 years during removal of the 1970s-era west addition that housed a an elevator and utilities. A newly constructed addition will closely match the original architecture and will include updated elevator and utility systems.

“For the first time in 100 years,” Utt said, “we're able to see where the original door openings were in this building, what the floor plan was, what the paint colors were.”

The renovation is scheduled to wrap up in 2022. After a public open house, the temple will be rededicated.

The church also plans to build a second temple in St. George on a 14-acre site northeast of 3000 East 1580 South.

The iconic Salt Lake Temple also is shuttered — for four years — as it undergoes a seismic retrofit and other upgrades, along with a makeover of Temple Square, one of Utah’s most visited attractions.

Pioneer-era temples in Logan and Manti also are poised for renovation. Dates and details of those projects have yet to be announced.

Latter-day Saints consider temples “Houses of the Lord," places where devout members participate in their faith’s highest rites.