The St. George Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a sentimental place in the hearts of many southern Utahns and northern Arizonans as a landmark of the pioneer era and culture. This temple, which is normally only open to authorized members of the LDS faith, underwent extensive renovations beginning in 2019 - renovations which have recently concluded.
The temple will have to go through a process called a Dedication before resuming its regular operations and exclusive status. Before this, there is a window of open access for members of the public to see the interior and gain a better understanding of what goes on inside the otherwise very private structure.
Photos courtesy of LDS Newsroom.
The St. George Temple is one of the oldest of its kind, and one of the few to still include one of the large assembly rooms from the Latter-day Saint faith’s early days. Temples were used for general-purpose church meetings in the Pioneer era, and more modern temples do not contain such a room - this open house is a rare chance to see this sort of assembly hall. There are other facets that make the St. George temple unique, such as the preeminence of natural lighting through windows, another indicator of the temple’s age dating back to before electric lighting was the norm. In a press release regarding the temple, Steven E. Snow, a veteran church historian, said, “This is the first temple in the West … I think Brigham Young was very, very happy that finally a temple had been built in the West before he passed. This just happens to be my favorite temple because this is a temple [that] I’ve known all my life.”
The St. George Temple is an example of the regular architectural and artistic prowess shown in the construction of an LDS temple. Many of the murals and pieces of art visitors will see as they navigate the Temple’s halls are contributed by local artists, and a few are scans and reproductions of significant pieces found in other temples. Private photography and videography are not allowed inside the Temple, so the church provides photos and videos for media outlets like the Southern Utah News to share.
The by-invitation part of the open house included a scheduled guided tour, as well as guest discussions and refreshments in the church facilities adjacent to the temple grounds. Visitors are expected to wear shoe-coverings as one of a few protocols designed to keep the interior of the temple clean, and invited visitors and guests during the public portion of the open house are encouraged to wear modest, easy to walk in clothing and comfortable shoes for the tour. Protocols for questions and discussions will be established during the tour, allowing guests additional information on the goings on within the temple.
The public portion of the open house begins on Friday, September 15, and continues until Saturday, November 11, except on Sundays. Tours will run from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., with reservations available on the St. George Open House page on churchofjesuschrist.org. Visitors can gather at 250 E. 400 S. St. George Utah, 84770, and the open house staff estimate most tours will last about 50 minutes.