Provo Utah Temple demolition marks official end to ‘cupcake’ temples

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The Provo Utah Temple’s last active day was Friday, March 1, before a demolition and complete redesign.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward with maintenance and reconstruction of this unique landmark. Local attitudes clash with Church policy to reconstruct this historic landmark.

The demolition order follows President Russell M. Nelson’s General Conference address in October 2022. In the address, President Nelson said the temple would close after the dedication of the Orem Utah Temple.

Locals in Utah County had mixed feelings about the closure and eventual demolition of this landmark. Christian Olsen, a Provo resident, grew up a few blocks away from the temple and attended church services across the street from the location.

Temple facilities managers said the “cupcake” design is expensive for the Church to maintain. The new design follows suit of recently constructed temples such as the Orem Temple. (Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Intellectual Reserve)

Olsen said the temple is a source of nostalgia and tradition for his family and friends.

“I talk to half of my friends and they say their parents have gotten married here and their first time going through the temple was here … it has a significance in that way,” Olsen said.

He brought his film camera to the site to capture photos of the temple structure. “I want to have pictures of what the temple looked like and to be able to show my future children,” Olsen said. “Honestly I don’t like the redesign … the Provo Temple is so unique,” Olsen said.

Temple facilities manager Dave Carlton has worked in management for temples for over 20 years. While the Church is doing away with the famous “cupcake design,” the entire temple will not be completely gone, he said.

“The Church has never officially gotten rid of a temple,” Carlton said.

Temple construction quite rarely, if ever, involves a complete demolition, he said. Pieces of the structure will not be completely lost.

“This doesn’t mean they’re going to be viewable to the public, but there, I would almost guarantee, there will still be parts of the temple that are there that they don’t need to take out, that they can leave and build around.”

The temple, dedicated over 50 years ago in 1972 by Joseph Fielding Smith, is nestled between towering mountains, and will be renamed the Provo Rock Canyon Temple.

The demolition timeline is currently unclear, according to the Church. However, guests can still view and respect the landscape and building as long as the sidewalks are clear and open.

The Provo Utah Temple has officially closed operations and services for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The temple will be redesigned to fit modern-day seismic and construction standards. (Alice Gubler)
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