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Temple Square

Coordinates: 40°46′14″N 111°53′33″W / 40.77056°N 111.89250°W / 40.77056; -111.89250
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Temple Square
Temple Square, approx 1898–1905, showing the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle and Salt Lake Assembly Hall
Temple Square is located in Utah
Temple Square
Temple Square is located in the United States
Temple Square
LocationSalt Lake City, Utah
Coordinates40°46′14″N 111°53′33″W / 40.77056°N 111.89250°W / 40.77056; -111.89250
Area10 acres (4.0 ha)
NRHP reference No.66000738[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966
Designated NHLDJanuary 29, 1964[2]

Temple Square is a 10-acre (4.0 ha) complex, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), in the center of Salt Lake City, Utah. The usage of the name has gradually changed to include several other church facilities that are immediately adjacent to Temple Square. Contained within Temple Square are the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Salt Lake Assembly Hall, the Seagull Monument, and two visitors' centers. The square was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964, recognizing the Mormon achievement in the settlement of Utah.[3]


Layout of Temple Square, circa 1893.
Temple Square and the surrounding area in 2013.

In 1847, when Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, president Brigham Young selected a plot of the desert ground, initially referred to as Temple Block,[4] and proclaimed, "Here we will build a temple to our God."[5] When the city was surveyed, the block enclosing that location was designated for the temple, and became known as Temple Square. Temple Square is surrounded by a 15-foot wall that was built shortly after the block was so designated.

The square also became the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other buildings were built on the plot, including a tabernacle (prior to the one occupying Temple Square today) and Endowment House, both of which were later torn down. The Salt Lake Tabernacle, home of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, was built in 1867 to accommodate the church's general conferences, with a seating capacity of 8,000. Another church building, the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, was later built with a seating capacity of 2,000.

As the church has grown, its headquarters have expanded into the surrounding area. In 1917, an administration building was built on the block east of the temple and in 1972, the twenty-eight story LDS Church Office Building, which was, for many years, the tallest building in the state of Utah. The Hotel Utah, another building on this block, was remodeled in 1995 as additional office space and a large film theater and renamed the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. In 2000, the church purchased the section of Main Street between this block and Temple Square and connected the two blocks with a plaza called the Main Street Plaza. In 2000, the church completed a new, 21,000 seat Conference Center on the block north of Temple Square.

In 2020, many of the buildings on and around Temple Square were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 4-year renovation project.[6][7]

Modern usage

Salt Lake Temple



Attracting an estimate of 5-plus million visitors a year, Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Utah. The LDS Church does not provide exact statistical data on the number of visits to Temple Square, but visitation is estimated to similar to that of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. Visitation to Utah's five national parksZion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches—had a combined total of approximately 9 million visitors in 2022.[8]

General Conference




The grounds, as well as the Gardens at Temple Square, often host concerts and other events. During the Christmas holiday season, approximately 100,000 Christmas lights sparkle from trees and shrubs around Temple Square each evening until 10 pm. The lighting of Temple Square is a popular event, usually attended by more than 10,000 people.[9]

Other uses


The multiple gates to Temple Square are popular places for critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—mainly former members and activist evangelical ministers—to picket and hand out tracts and literature critical of the church. They are also well-known locations for street musicians to perform, especially during the holiday season.

Street directions


Temple Square serves as the center point for all street addresses in Salt Lake City. The streets in Salt Lake follow a grid pattern which deviate out from the southeast corner of Temple Square.



Salt Lake Temple


The Salt Lake Temple is the largest and best-known of the Church's operating temples.[note 1] It is the sixth temple built by the church since its founding, and the fourth operating temple built following the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois.

North and South Visitors' Centers

Christus statue in North Visitors' Center

Beginning in 1963, two visitors' centers, called the North Visitors' Center and the South Visitors' Center, were constructed on temple square.[13] The North Visitors' Center was built first and featured a replica of the Christus. The Christus was in a room called the Rotunda with large windows, and a domed ceiling painted with heavenly bodies meant to reflect the sky on April 6, 1830, the day that the Church was founded.[14] The visitors' centers and grounds are staffed by full-time sister missionaries[15] and senior missionary couples exclusively; no single male missionaries are called to serve on Temple Square. The sister missionaries serving on Temple Square are from around the world, speaking enough languages to cater to the majority of visitors. Beginning with the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the sister missionaries have been wearing tags with the national flags of their home country along with their missionary name tags.

On April 19, 2019, church leaders announced that the South Visitors' Center will be demolished as part of a massive renovation project that will begin December 29, 2019. Two smaller visitors' pavilions will take its place.[16] On June 10, 2021, it was announced that the North Visitors' Center would be demolished as well. It will be replaced by a garden designed as contemplative space.[17]

Old Bureau of Information building, which served visitors from 1904 to 1978 (1909 photo).
The Assembly Hall at Temple Square at Christmas time.

Conference and assembly buildings


There are three large assembly buildings housed on Temple Square. The smallest of the three is the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, which seats approximately 2,000 and is on the southwest corner of Temple Square. The Assembly Hall is a Victorian Gothic congregation hall, with a cruciform layout of the interior that is complemented by Stars of David circumscribed high above each entrance, which symbolize the gathering of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Construction of the hall began on August 11, 1877, and was completed in 1882.[18] It is just south of the Salt Lake Tabernacle and across from the South Visitor Center near the South Gate. Upon entering Temple Square from the south, the Assembly Hall can be seen to the left (west). The Assembly Hall hosts occasional free weekend music concerts and is filled as overflow for the church's twice-a-year general conferences.

The second structure is the Salt Lake Tabernacle, home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. The Tabernacle was built between 1864 and 1867 with an overall seating capacity of 8,000, including the choir area and gallery. In March 2007, the Tabernacle was rededicated after extensive renovations and restorations were completed. Spacing between the pews was substantially increased, resulting in a reduced overall seating capacity. The Tabernacle was rededicated at the Saturday afternoon session of the church's 177th Annual General Conference. In addition to housing the choir, the Tabernacle is also used for other religious and cultural events.

The largest and most recently built assembly building is the LDS Conference Center. With a capacity of over 21,000, it is used primarily for the Church's general conferences as well as for concerts and other cultural events. The Conference Center was completed in 2000. Attached on the northwest corner of the Conference Center is the Conference Center Theater, an 850-seat theater for dramatic presentations, such as Savior of the World, as well as concerts and other events.[19]

Museums and libraries


FamilySearch Library


On the block west of Temple Square, the FamilySearch Library is the largest genealogical library in the world and is open to the general public at no charge.[20] The library holds genealogical records for over 110 countries, territories, and possessions. Its collections include over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 742,000 microfiche; 310,000 books, serials, and other formats; 4,500 periodicals; and 700 electronic resources.

Church History Museum


On the block west of Temple Square adjacent to the Family History Library, the Church History Museum houses collections of Latter-day Saint art and artifacts.[21] The Museum houses permanent exhibits as well as playing host to temporary exhibits throughout the year. Past exhibits have included the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, featuring 23 paintings by Norman Rockwell; displays and artwork from artist Arnold Friberg; and themed historical displays depicting church events.[22]

A panoramic view showing Temple Square from the Conference Center looking south.

Church History Library


On the block northeast of Temple Square and east of the Conference Center is the Church History Library, where the historical records of the Church are stored. The Library is free to patrons, who can come use a large collection of books, manuscripts, and photographs. Senior missionaries provide tours of the public areas of the Library. Patrons can also view a video explaining the mission and purpose of the Library.

See also



  1. ^ The LDS Church has 350 temples in various phases, which includes 195 dedicated temples (188 operating and 7 previously-dedicated, but closed for renovation[10]), 7 scheduled for dedication, 43 under construction, 4 scheduled for groundbreaking,[11] and 101 others announced (not yet under construction).[12]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System – (#66000738)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ "Temple Square". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2008.
  3. ^ "NHL nomination for Temple Square". National Park Service. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  4. ^ "Buildings on the Temple Block Preceding the Tabernacle | Religious Studies Center".
  5. ^ Quoted in Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Salt Lake Temple", Ensign, March 1993, p. 2.
  6. ^ Harkins, Paighten. "LDS Church closes Temple Square, other downtown attractions, because of coronavirus", The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 March 2020. Retrieved on 18 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Plans Unveiled for Salt Lake Temple Renovation". newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org. April 19, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "National Reports". irma.nps.gov. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  9. ^ Michael De Groote, "Decades of downtown S.L. music and lights", Deseret News, December 12, 2010.
  10. ^ Hill, Victoria (January 23, 2023). "Plans announced to rebuild, relocate Anchorage Alaska Temple". KUTV. Retrieved July 6, 2024. (The Anchorage Alaska Temple is being relocated and resized. While the new temple is under construction, the existing temple is open and will be decommissioned and demolished after the new one is dedicated).
  11. ^ Taylor, Scott (July 14, 2024). "At a glance: A reminder of the 50 temples between groundbreaking and dedication". Church News. Retrieved July 16, 2024.
  12. ^ (Additionally, the church has 1 historic site temple). "Sacred Sites and Historic Documents Transfer to Church of Jesus Christ". newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org. March 5, 2024. Retrieved July 6, 2024.
  13. ^ "The North Visitors' Center on Temple Square Will Be Replaced". newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org. June 10, 2021. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  14. ^ Phares, Chad, E. (February 2010). "A Year on Temple Square The North Visitors' Center".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Law, Kristina (2006). "Sister Missionaries". Archived from the original on April 29, 2007. Retrieved December 14, 2006.
  16. ^ "Plans Unveiled for Salt Lake Temple Renovation". Mormon Newsroom. April 19, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  17. ^ Toone, Trent (June 10, 2021). "What will replace Temple Square's North Visitors' Center and why?". Deseret News. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  18. ^ Assembly Hall.
  19. ^ Conference Center.
  20. ^ AAG International Research. "AAG International Research". AAG International Research. Retrieved October 31, 2009.
  21. ^ McFall, Michael. "A 'tour' of the new Church History Museum before it reopens", The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 October 2014. Retrieved on 16 March 2020.
  22. ^ Burke, Leann. "Church History Museum exhibits celebrate 100 years of Scouting", The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 July 2013. Retrieved on 16 March 2020.

Further reading

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