Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Preservation Update: Idaho Falls Temple Renovation Complete

Note: Preservation Updates are a regularly occurring series of posts where I round up recent information on historic LDS buildings and their futures. Depending on the age of the post, there may be newer information available. Click here to see all Preservation Updates.

Yesterday, the Mormon Newsroom posted an article stating that the Idaho Falls Temple renovation is now complete. I have taken the photos posted there and added them to the other photos on the post that gives an interior tour of the temple. If you want to see the temple from top to bottom, check out that post; this post focuses on the results of the renovation.

I am ecstatic to see the results of this renovation. Once the Church has decided that one of its temples or chapels is architecturally significant, it does a fabulous job of restoring and preserving that architecture, and this is clearly visible in Idaho Falls. Most of the work is unseen--retrofitting and stabilizing the building so that it can be preserved and enjoyed by Latter-day Saints for years to come.

The most obvious change to long-time patrons of the temple will be the murals, which have been carefully restored. They are more vibrant than ever, because they have been carefully cleaned and repaired.

One change I particularly like--at least, from the photos that I can see--is that the curtains are now opened in the creation, garden, and world rooms of the temple. When I visited, these curtains were shut during the entire session--ostensibly to allow the film to be viewed. I'm hoping these curtains can automatically open and close, depending on when the film is being used, to maximize the use of natural light.

I might have one concern--the ceiling of the creation room would light up with stars at the appropriate moment of the ceremony. I can't tell if this ceiling still allows that. I hope so; it certainly wasn't original to the temple, but it was a beautiful touch.

One notable change has been the reduction in the number of seats in each ordinance room. This may seem confusing--why reduce capacity? In truth, I wish this was done in all historic temples. These temples were not built to be efficient or to pus through huge numbers of patrons. When I visited this temple, there was precious little leg space (or seat width), and the large number of patrons in the session meant that it was one of the longest sessions I'd ever attended. With the increase in the number of temples--this area of Idaho now has temples in Twin Falls, Rexburg, and Star Valley (Wyoming), and there will be a temple in Pocatello. The temple doesn't need to have the huge capacity that it had before; it wasn't built for that.

This renovation, from what I can tell, has also increased the amount of natural light in the celestial room, perhaps by uncovering some original windows:

I really love this temple and the careful renovation the Church has undertaken. The Salt Lake, Manti, Cardston, and Laie Temples have been carefully preserved as well. It remains to be seen when the Church will undertake the laborious but necessary job of restoring the temples in Mesa, St. George, and especially Logan. Until then, we can enjoy this temple for the coming decades as a wonderful example of what architecture the Church can produce.


  1. Your photos of the Idaho Falls temple, as well as those from LDS Newsroom, and incredible! I am so thankful that the Church is choosing to restore these buildings as much as possible. We lost so much with three that were "modernized"; it would be wonderful if they could be better restored. But meanwhile, there are still many Saints who just plain need temples! I am anxious to see what is going to be done with the Washington DC and the Tokyo temples with their closing for lengthy repairs; I am hoping it will be done while preserving the original design.

    1. There are definitely a lot of projects to be done, but this project shows the Church is doing a good job!

  2. Thank you so much for this information. I feared the murals would be changed like when they renovated the Logan temple in the 1980's.

    1. It's unfortunate that the Logan Temple renovation happened. The murals in the creation and world rooms are still in storage in Salt Lake City, so I'm hopeful that a future renovation will bring those murals back to Logan. We'll have to see!