Over the President’s Day holiday weekend we were able to go through the open house for the new Provo City Center Temple. This was an amazing and very special experience for us.
A Little Background
All Latter-day Saint (Mormon) temples are sacred spaces for the worship of God. I won’t go into detail in this post but more can be learned here. Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are ready to make sacred promises with God can normally enter temples. But when a new temple is built anyone may come inside during the open house and tour the building before its dedication.
This temple is particularly special to many people because of its history. The building was originally the Provo Tabernacle and had served as a religious and community building in Provo for more than a hundred years. It held many dear memories in that capacity for many many people. It caught fire in 2010 and was almost completely destroyed except for the outside walls. For months it was unknown what would be done with the building until it was announced that it would be restored as a temple. (To learn more about this history go here).
For us it also has some significance although we didn’t grow up in Provo and most of our time here has been since the fire. Ben’s oldest sister performed her senior organ recital in the tabernacle, our first date was to the conference where the new temple was announced, Ben was one of the designers on the history exhibit linked to above, and it will now be our home temple once it opens.
The temple is located at the intersection of University Avenue and Center Street in Provo. If you are coming on I-15 it is best to take the University Avenue exit and head North until you see the temple. You can also take the Center Street exit and head East until you see the temple, but that tends to take longer as traffic on Center Street is usually quite slow.
What You Will See
If you come during the last couple weeks of the open house (ending March 5th, 2016) you will be able to walk through the temple and see all the ordinance rooms and other areas of the temple. If you don’t have tickets, which are no longer available, you will need to wait in the standby line. As would be expected on weekends the lines are quite long, but during the day on weekdays they are often short. When we went on the Friday of a holiday weekend we had tickets and had to wait in the ticket line for about an hour. Meagan’s brother went in the middle of the week without tickets and didn’t have to wait at all. Regardless if you have to wait or not it is worth it.
You will first be taken into one of several small temporary theaters in the parking garage. There you will see a film explaining a little bit about temples and their importance to the LDS church. From there you will go inside the temple and tour through the rooms. There are no tour guides, but there are cards set up to explain what each room’s purpose is. Each room is gorgeous and designed to carry the pioneer feel of the tabernacle. The tour takes between 15-20 minutes once you get inside.
After the tour you will go through a short exhibit about the history of the tabernacle and temple. Friends of mine built this exhibit so I would say it is worth looking at. You will also have the chance to get your picture taken in front of a backdrop of the temple. We did get our picture here, but I would also suggest getting some outside with the actual temple in them.
If you come after the open house has ended you will not be able to enter the temple itself unless you are a member of the LDS faith holding a current temple recommend. But, you will be able to see the outside of the historic building, walk around the beautiful grounds, see and go inside the waiting area gazebo, and view the historic lintel stone from the first Provo meetinghouse.
This history is enough reason to come to see the Provo City Center Temple. The gazebo is a nice touch, especially since there will soon be many weddings performed in the temple and guests unable to go inside will be able to wait in the gazebo. The grounds are perfect for peaceful reflection or taking beautiful pictures. The Temple is also located at the very heart of downtown Provo which provides excellent dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
This is an incredible sacred building that is full of history. Definitely worth stopping by to see it. We really enjoyed being able to go through the building with Meagan’s family. Both the interior and exterior are exquisite.