Temple Square Construction Update: What’s Happening to the Statue of Christus?

The commercial part of an excavator ripped off the roof of the rotunda on the north side of the Temple Square north visitor center on Friday as crews continued to work on the demolition of a 58-year-old building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.

A hose sprayed water to settle dust and debris as the shovel tore through the concrete, rebar and metal siding that housed a famous replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus sculpture.

The statue was removed during the summer and placed in storage. He will return to a different location on Temple Square when the renovation of the Salt Lake Block and Temple is complete.

The Northern Visitors Center will disappear for good, however, replaced by new gardens.

“This area will become a peaceful and calm space in Temple Square,” said Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“The plans for this area will also provide a more direct and clearer view of the Salt Lake City Temple from the area northwest of Temple Square, thus reinforcing the prominence of the temple,” he added.

The gardens are expected to be completed by 2023, according to a press release, while the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple is expected to continue until at least 2024.

The Temple Square North Visitor Center is demolished in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 19, 2021. The area will be replaced with open gardens and a space for contemplation by 2023.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Despite the demolition work underway, part of Temple Square will open to visitors for the annual Christmas Lights Exhibition starting November 26, the day after Thanksgiving. Nativity scenes will be open inside the Tabernacle and between it and the Assembly Hall.

The North Visitor Center was built in 1963 to accommodate visitors to Temple Square on the north side of the temple block.

The 11-foot replica of Christus was on the upper floor, framed in a large glass window facing the famous Tabernacle. The lighting helped the statue to glow crisp white through the window each night.

Demolition work on the Northern Visitors Center began a week ago. The eastern end of the building closest to the Salt Lake City Temple has been demolished. On Friday, the excavator tore off the rotunda in the center of the old building, exposing the area that had housed the Christus. Work was important along the North Temple.

The conference center across the street serves as a welcome center for visitors to Temple Square during the renovation from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. It had excellent elevated views of the demolition across the street over the past week. It also features a smaller replica of Christus and a cutaway model of the Salt Lake City Temple.

The Temple Square North Visitor Center is demolished in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 19, 2021. The area will be replaced with open gardens and a space for contemplation by 2023.

The Temple Square North Visitor Center is demolished in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 19, 2021. The area will be replaced with open gardens and a space for contemplation by 2023.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

“Visitors will also find immersive and interactive experiences to help them understand the history and significance of the Salt Lake City Temple,” said a press release. “These include an orientation film, a media presentation on the importance of social and religious gatherings, historical artifacts and photos, and sacred art galleries.

Guests can also visit the conference center, the site of the church’s semiannual general conferences, and other events. More information is available at TempleSquare.org.

The renovation of Temple Square is a huge project.

Teams demolished the southern visitor center and the wall along the southern temple at the start of the project in January 2020.

Workers also removed the fountain at the east end of Temple Square between the church office building and the church administration building.

The removal of the fountain, which had been closed because it leaked into an underground parking lot, is part of efforts to improve landscaping and sightlines around the temple before it reopens.

A map of Temple Square shows which areas are under construction and which are open to the public.

A map of Temple Square shows which areas are under construction and which are open to the public.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Much of the temple renovation centers on installing a basic insulation system that will protect the 128-year-old sacred building from earthquakes. This work included temporarily removing the statue and spiers of the Angel Moroni from the top of the temple and drilling holes to fill the foundation with a reinforcing grout.

The renovation inside the temple is also important. In October, President Russell M. Nelson shared a video of the work during the church’s general conference. In the video, he is seen touring the interior of the temple, revealing that much of it was gutted to the bones of the structure.

“We promise you will love the results,” President Nelson said when he announced the temple and garden renovations. “They will emphasize and underline the life, ministry, and mission of Jesus Christ in His desire to bless every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. “


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