Reopening of the historic Salt Lake LDS Temple is again pushed back

“Unexpected challenges are inevitable,” church says, when working on pioneer-era buildings.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Steel reinforcement cages are assembled to support base isolators on the west side of the Salt Lake Temple in March 2023.

Anyone who has strolled by downtown’s scaffolding-shrouded Salt Lake Temple may not be surprised by news that the expected completion date of the iconic building’s massive renovation and seismic upgrade has been pushed back — again.

When work began in earnest in early 2020, it was planned as a four-year project. In December 2021, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the overhaul would stretch into 2025.

Well, scratch that and pencil in a 2026 finish.

“When working with historic structures such as this pioneer-era temple, unexpected challenges are inevitable,” the Utah-based faith explained in a news release last week. “...Church leadership — in connection with project consultants and the general contractor working on the project — currently estimates completion of the project in 2026.”

Significant progress, nonetheless, is taking place.

The release pointed to a milestone in the monumental task of safeguarding the temple against earthquakes. Earlier this month, crews poured concrete for the footing of the first base isolator underneath the edifice, an “important step for the base isolation system.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A concrete slab is laid around the perimeter of the Salt Lake Temple in March 2023 to create a clean and level working surface during the multiyear renovation.

The installation of that first isolator, it added, is anticipated in April.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in March 2020 knocked the trumpet from the hand of the golden Angel Moroni atop the temple. The statue was removed two months later to undergo repairs before it is reinstalled.

Work on Temple Square’s northwest corner — where the North Visitors’ Center housing the Christus statue once stood — is expected to wrap up this fall, the release stated. That area is to include “contemplative gardens” and restrooms. Crews then will turn their attention to the southwest corner, necessitating the closure of the Assembly Hall and surrounding gardens for about a year.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A view in March 2023 of the northwest corner of Temple Square shows the development of the area where the North Visitors' Center once stood. It is estimated that new buildings and landscaping in the corner will be completed in early fall 2023 as part of the ongoing renovations to the temple and surrounding area in Salt Lake City.

When the iconic six-spired temple does reopen, the public open house promises to be a huge event — for members eager to see the makeover and for outsiders. Those who aren’t faithful Latter-day Saints have not stepped foot inside to tour the famed building since before its 1893 dedication.

Temple Square traditionally draws millions of visitors a year, making it one of Utah’s top tourist attractions.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Crews work to remove the Angel Moroni statue atop the Salt Lake Temple in May 2020.