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St. George LDS Temple renovation is nearing completion. Here’s what it looks like.

Project includes new additions and revamped grounds.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) In the foreground, steel fabricated stairs stand ready for installation in the St. George Utah Temple as workers prep the exterior temple for painting.

More than two years after renovations to the St. George Temple began, work on the 145-year-old structure is nearing completion, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The pioneer-era temple closed in November 2019 and is scheduled to reopen later this year.

The project includes seismic upgrades, with steel added to the structure’s original wood trusses and structural reinforcement of the temple’s stone foundation. The temple’s mechanical and electrical systems have also been upgraded.

“One of the main things that we’ve done the last year is to finish all the primary upgrades we needed to do to the historic temple,” project manager Eric Jamison said in a news release this week.

Additions built in the 20th century were torn down to make room for the new additions — the one on the west side of the temple is “well underway,” according to the release, and the exterior of the north addition is ready for painting.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Arched doorways of maple and poplar in the north addition of the St. George Utah Temple replicate original millwork in the historic temple.

Maple and poplar millwork, patterned after the original woodwork in the historic temple, has been installed in the new additions.

“When patrons walk into the north entrance of the temple, they’ll feel like they’re in the historic temple,” said Andy Kirby, the church’s director of historic temple renovations, “and that’s consistent throughout the building.”

A brides’ exit and plaza have been added to the east side of the annex, along with a new baptistry entrance and exit on the temple’s south side.

Work on the temple grounds — including walkways, planters and landscaping — is nearing completion. Drought-tolerant shrubbery and trees are being planted, and a smart weather irrigation system that will know the optimum time to water the vegetation is being installed.

“We all want the people to feel peace, even on the grounds,” said Chris Reilly, landscape project manager from Stratton and Bratt. “The grounds [are] an extension of the temple.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Landscapers prepare the smart irrigation system and plants on the St. George Utah Temple grounds.

Ground was broken on the St. George Temple at 250 E. 400 South — constructed of red sandstone and plastered over in white — on Nov. 9, 1871. It was dedicated April 6, 1877, becoming the third Latter-day Saint temple completed and the first in Utah. It became the oldest actively used Latter-day Saint temple.

(The first, in Kirtland, Ohio, is owned and operated by the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The second, in Nauvoo, Ill., was destroyed; a replica on the same site was dedicated in 2002 by the Utah-based faith.)

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) An aerial view of the St. George Temple.

The St. George Temple’s cupola was replaced in 1883 after a lightning strike, and the first annex was also added that year. Previous renovations were completed in 1917, 1938 and 1975, and the temple was rededicated Nov. 11, 1975.

While renovations continue on the historic St. George Temple, construction continues on a second temple in the southern Utah city. Ground was broken on the Red Cliffs Temple near 3000 East 1580 South in November 2020.

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Patricia, talk to media at the groundbreaking of the Red Cliffs Utah Temple on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.

Two other pioneer-era Utah temples — the iconic six-spired Salt Lake Temple, now shrouded in scaffolding, and the treasured Manti Temple — are undergoing major renovations as well.

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