Decomissioning of Salt Lake Temple Is Weeks-long Process

Contributed By Sydney Walker, Church News staff writer

  • 13 January 2020

Workers put up a fence around the Salt Lake Temple as renovation gets underway on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Article Highlights

  • Decomissioning is the process of transitioning the working temple to a construction site.

“The decommissioning process allows us to carefully take care of what is inside the temple so we can then focus on our job of fortifying and protecting this house of the Lord.” —Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations

Hours after the Salt Lake Temple closed on December 29 for a four-year renovation, workers began removing sacred items and transitioning the working temple to a construction site. 

Rich Sutton, temple area director, said this process—called decommissioning—occurs each time a temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is renovated, according to a Newsroom release

Emily Utt, curator in the Church History Department, added, “The Salt Lake Temple is somewhat unique due to its size and the years of history dating back to 1893. This building has been carefully cared for and preserved for a long time, and it’s a sacred experience to be involved in preparing it for this next important step.”

The first step of the weeks-long decomissioning process is to remove temple clothing, temple records, and other sacred items used in temple ordinances from the building. At this point, the temple is no longer considered a dedicated building. Renovation crews enter and workers clean out the temple laundry, offices, and custodial closets. 

Furniture is then carefully removed from the temple and taken to warehouses and other Church facilities. Some furniture items may also be donated. Stained glass windows, historic light fixtures, and other items are also removed to be protected during the renovation. Infrastructure is set up to protect historic finishes. 

“Even as this temple becomes a construction site, we never lose sight of its sacred purpose and history,” said Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations. “The decommissioning process allows us to carefully take care of what is inside the temple so we can then focus on our job of fortifying and protecting this house of the Lord.”

During the final steps of decommissioning, asbestos abatement begins and temporary power and utilities for temple construction are set up. Crews will then begin the four-year renovation, which includes seismically strengthening the temple to help ensure it stands for years to come. 

Several artifacts from the Salt Lake Temple will be on display at the Conference Center throughout the renovation. The Conference Center will host visitors to Temple Square throughout the renovation—serving as the largest visitors’ center in the Church.

Demolition of the South Visitors’ Center has also begun. Continual updates on the renovation of the temple can be found at TempleSquare.org.

Workers remove displays from the South Visitors' Center following the closure of the Salt Lake Temple.

Fencing is being installed around the Salt Lake Temple for an extensive renovation.

Renovation work is underway around the Salt Lake Temple.

Construction work is underway on Temple Square as the Salt Lake Temple is decommissioned.

The Salt Lake Temple is pictured following its closure.