LDS Church announces temple groundbreaking

An artist's rendering of the Provo Tabernacle reconstructed as a temple. The tabernacle, gutted by fire in 2010, will be the second temple in Provo when completed.

PROVO -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday that the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Provo City Center Temple will be at 9 a.m. on May 12.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be the presiding authority.

Church spokesman Scott Trotter said people will need tickets to attend the actual ceremony, but it will be broadcast into stake centers in and around Provo. Tickets can be acquired through local church leaders within the new temple district. The new district boundaries have yet to be released.

Provo will be busy that day as the new Utah Valley Convention Center will hold its grand opening and open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. just two blocks from the temple groundbreaking.

Trotter did not specify how long construction will take or what the temple complex will look like; however he did indicate it would be typical to other temple construction timelines, which would put the Provo City Center Temple completed by or before 2015.

Mayor John Curtis said he has anticipated this day since the LDS Church announced the burned-out tabernacle would become a temple.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the enthusiasm at the groundbreaking exceeds the sense of loss at the time of the fire. The same neighbors that came together to mourn will now gather to celebrate," Curtis said.

Curtis added, "I would never call the fire a blessing, but we are very fortunate that the LDS Church has chosen to make the most out of the situation. The new temple will be a wonderful addition to the downtown area and a beautiful gateway into the city. This is indeed a gift to the community. Like the tabernacle before it, the new temple will touch the lives of thousands who will then carry special memories of Provo wherever they go throughout the world."

The Provo Tabernacle was gutted by fire on Dec. 17, 2010, after improperly stored sound and video equipment sparked an accidental blaze. Church officials deliberated the future of the burned-out landmark for several months before making a surprise announcement at general conference in October.

The temple campus will include property the church has acquired between 100 and 200 South and the closure of a portion of 100 South between University Avenue and 100 West.

Interest in the temple, its history and it relationship to the community has been heightened by the fire and subsequent temple announcement. A number of special projects have been held prior to the construction announcement.

For instance, the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences and The Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University are conducting oral history interviews and collecting stories about downtown Provo and the Provo Tabernacle. The project will document changes on Provo's Center Street and in the Provo Tabernacle over the years.

The BYU Office of Public Archeology and the LDS Church History Department have just concluded a five-month excavation, which unearthed the original foundation of the first tabernacle circa 1860. Senior art classes at BYU have selected the burned-out tabernacle as subject for their senior projects and downtown art exhibit.

Once the temple is completed and dedicated, only members of the LDS Church with current temple recommends will be allowed inside.