Mesa Arizona

Mesa Arizona Temple

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Tim Marquardt, XC182170. Accessible at



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Mesa Arizona Temple Wiki


The Mesa Arizona Temple (formerly the Arizona Temple; nicknamed the Lamanite Temple)[1] is the seventh operating temple. Located in the city of Mesa, Arizona, it is the first of six LDS temples built or planned in the state.


The LDS temple in Mesa was one of the first to be constructed by the church. Similar to the Cardston Alberta Temple, the church decided to hold a competition for the design of the temple with the exception of only inviting three Salt Lake firms to participate. The winning design was proposed by Don Carlos Young, Jr. and Ramm Hansen. Announced in 1919, only seven years after Arizona had achieved statehood, it was one of 3 temples announced and constructed to serve outlying Latter-day Saint settlements in the early part of the century, the others being constructed in Laie, Hawaii and Cardston, Alberta. While none of the three settlements were particularly large in their own right, they were considered thriving centers of largely Latter-day Saint populations. The long and arduous trip to existing temples located in the state of Utah would prove costly and even dangerous for the faithful of the era, and temple attendance was (and is) an important part of the faith. As such, it was seen as necessary to construct temples in these communities.


Numerous colonies had been set up in Arizona by the church during the last half of the nineteenth century, and plans had been discussed for a temple in the area as early as 1908, but the start of World War I stopped these for a while. The plan to build a temple in Mesa, Arizona was finally announced on 3 October 1919 during General Conference.[2] Most Stake Presidents presented their own stakes as being the perfect location for the temple, with sites being put forward in Snowflake Arizona and a site in California between then Los Angeles and Santa Monica. (This last location would have put the temple near the present day location of the Los Angeles Temple. )[3]A 20-acre (81,000 m2) site was selected and purchased in 1921.


President Heber J. Grant dedicated the site on 28 November 1921. 3,000 people attended, the outline of the temple was marked with Date Palm branches, and songs were sung by children accompanied by an orchestra.[3]


Construction officially commenced on 25 April 1922 with excavation for the basement. Arthur Price of the Church Building Department arrived the following January to oversee the project as Construction Architect.[3] This was the last temple that was Member Built.


A Cornerstone was laid under the Direction of Elder Richard R. Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve on 12 November 1923. A Metal box with items of local interest was placed as part of the ceremony.[3]

Six days later the Arizona Historical Society placed a box of its own in the wall as well.[3]

Open House

The public was able to take tours through the temple during the last 2 years of construction. Open Houses for temples were an uncommon practice at the time. Two hundred thousand people were able to take a tour through the Mesa Temple. Special high profile guests included the Governor of Illinois.[3]


The temple was dedicated on 23 October 1927, by Heber J. Grant over 10 sessions. The dedication services were broadcast by radio to surrounding areas, a first for temple dedications.[4] By that afternoon, the temple was being put to use.

City Planning

Following the earlier traditions set forth in the building of temples, such as the Salt Lake Temple, the new structure in Mesa was a centerpiece of an organized and planned community for the faithful that lived nearby. Upon its completion in 1927, it was the third largest temple in use by the church and the largest outside of Utah and remains among the largest temples constructed to this day.

Dedicatory Prayer

Dedication Order

The Mesa Arizona Temple is the 7th operating temple, The 1st in Arizona, the 6th in the United States, and the 7th in North America. There were no other temples planned or under construction at the time of its dedication.


In 1945, the temple was distinguished by becoming the first to offer temple ordinances in Spanish, the first time they were offered in a language other than English.


In 1952 the courtyard on the east side of the temple was enclosed and added to the baptistry area of the temple.


In 1953 the courtyard on the north side of the temple was enclsoed and added to the kitchen and dining area.


in 1954 the third and final courtyard on the south side of the temple was enclosed, this time being added to the laundry and clothing distribution space of the temple.

Renovation 1975

The Mesa Temple was closed in February 1974 for extensive remodeling. The Mesa Arizona Temple was originally constructed with muraled progressive-style ordinance rooms. Patrons started in a Creation Room, then moved sequentially to a Garden Room, a World Room, and Terrestrial Room (which had murals). They were designed around a grand staircase leading to the Celestial Room, occupying the highest level of the temple. During the remodel the first three ordinance rooms were equipped for motion-picture presentation of the endowment sessions. The Terrestrial Room became a veil room used by each of the other 3 rooms. The decaying burlap murals were removed from the rooms, and the salvageable pieces were shipped to Church headquarters for preservation and storage.

A new and larger entrance was added to the west side of the temple. An additional 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2) was added to the temple, mostly to the south. The addition provides larger dressing rooms and increases the number of sealing rooms.[5] Spencer W. Kimball re-dedicated the temple on April 16, 1975.[6][7] The new addition kept the same terra-cotta tile look as the original portion of the temple, changing only the window styles to sets of 3 taller windows.

Open House

An open house for the remodeled temple was held 19 March-3 April 1975. an estimated 205,000 people attended this open house, an average of 14,643 per each of the 14 days.[8] The Mesa Arizona Temple was the first temple to reopen to the public for an open house after a remodel and prior to a rededication.


The newly remodeled temple was rededicated 15-16 April 1975 by President Spencer W. Kimball over 7 sessions. 4,600 people attended within the temple, the visitors center, and a nearby stake center for each of the dedicatory sessions. President Kimball noted that he had sung as part of the St. Joseph stake Choir at the original dedication of the temple in 1927. [8]

Rededicatory Prayer

Rededication Order

At the time of the rededication of the temple, there were 17 total dedicated temples in the world, including Mesa Arizona. The St. George Temple was undergoing remodel at that time, so the number of active temples int he world was 16. Plans for a temple in Sao Paulo Brazil had recently been announced.

Temples awaiting groundbreaking temples undergoing renovation.
St. George Utah Sao Paulo Brazil


In 1980, a fourth ordinance room was added by converting a space previously used by the female patrons. This allowed endowment sessions to begin every half hour.


In 1991, the preserved sections of the original murals were sent back to the Mesa Arizona Temple for re-installation and restoration. Only one wall in each room could be restored. The new ordinance room added in 1980, which did not have a mural before, was decorated with sections from the original World Room mural.

Renovation 2020


On 27 June 2017, the Church announced that Mesa Arizona (Along with Baton Rouge Louisiana and Raleigh North Carolina) would be closing in 2018 for renovations. The closure is intended to last from 2015 to 2020 and will include mechanical upgrades and needed repairs.[9]


The temple closed on 19 May of 2018. the renovation will bring back the progressive style endowment the temple was originally intended to present. Murals will be painted in the rooms that originally had them, copying the originals where possible. The grounds will be relandscaped as well featuring new shade gardens and plasa areas. As part of the renovation, the visitors center will be moved one block to the west.

Public exhibits and events

Just north of the temple is a visitors’ center where people can enjoy murals, videos, displays, and other activities. The visitors’ center also houses a replica of a statue of Jesus Christ by Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen called the Christus. The visitors’ centers and grounds are staffed by missionaries and the public is welcome to walk on the temple grounds and enjoy the well-kept gardens.

During Christmas there is a light display and a nativity scene.

During late March to early April, the temple hosts the Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant Jesus the Christ, which attracts approximately 150,000 people annually and is the “largest annual outdoor Easter pageant in the world.”[10][11] In October of 2018 the Church announced that most of the Pageants through out the Church would be discontinued over the next few years. It is not known at this time what will happen to the Mesa Temple Pageant.



President Kenneth M. Smith 2017–
President J Brent Hatch 2014–2017
President R. Gordon Porter 2011–2014
President Daryl H. Garn 2009–2011
President Ezra T. Clark Jr. 2006–2009
President Albert Choules Jr. 2003–2006
President John R. Peterson 2000–2003
President L. Kenyon Udall 1997–2000
President E. Widtsoe Shumway 1994–1997
President John H. Tanner 1991–1994
President Nephi S. Allen 1988–1991
President LeRoy Layton 1985–1988
President L. Harold Wright 1980–1985
President Junius E. Driggs 1975–1980
President C. Bryant Whiting 1970–1975
President Jesse M. Smith 1963–1970
President J. Robert Price 1960–1963
President Arwell L. Pierce 1953–1960
President Harry L. Payne 1944–1953
President Charles Pugh 1940–1944
President Charles R. Jones 1934–1940
President David K. Udall 1927–1934


Similar to the Laie and Cardston temples before it, the Mesa Arizona Temple was built in a neoclassical style suggestive of the Temple in Jerusalem. It lacks the spires that have become a mainstay of temples built since then, and prior to the announcement and impending construction of the Paris France Temple, it was the last LDS temple constructed without a spire. The temple is a neoclassical design featuring the primary structure atop a wider base pedestal. The temple features pilasters with Corinthian capitals (12 pairs along the long side and 10 pairs along the short side) and amphorae on fluted columns on the grounds. Below the cornice of the primary structure, eight frieze panels (carved in low relief) depict the gathering of God’s people from the Old and New World, and the Pacific Islands to America.[12]


 Terra Cotta Tiles over concrete walls, with a steel frame.


The windows in the Mesa Arizona temple are plane glass windows in in multi-pane configurations.



There is one Inscription on the Mesa Arizona Temple. It is on the west face of the temple above the entryway. The letters of the inscription are engraved into the Terracotta and painted black.  TheName of the Church and the original name of the temple follow the Inscription.



The cornerstone of the Mesa Arizona Temple is on the Southeast corner of the original temple. It is engraved into the Terracotta and painted black.



Around the upper portion of the Mesa temple there are eight Freizes Alma Brockerman Wright (known chiefly for his highly colored paintings and murals) designed the frieze; Torleif S. Knaphus (who modeled the oxen supporting several temple baptismal fonts (including the ones at Mesa Arizona,) and is the sculptor of the Hill Cumorah monument, the handcart memorial on Temple Square. The panels are 7 feet tall and each one represents part of a grand parade of converts leaving their homes to gather in Zion. The figures represent specific nationalities, and the artists even conceived mini-stories for some of them.

The four figures to the left are Italians. The woman and the seated man upon whose shoulder her hand rests are a husband and wife; the wife is a convert, the husband is not, and the wife is attempting to convince the husband to join her in gathering to Zion. To their right is a group of French peasants, on their way to Holland to board a ship to America. Those in the rear of the French group are wearing climbing clothes, having just descended from the Alps.

This group of European Saints has reached the port in Holland from which they will embark. A group of Dutch Saints carry their bundles aboard ship, while the Germans who have already boarded are stowing their belongings.

The emigrant ship has arrived in America. The figure at the rear is a Scotsman in kilt and tam o’shanter; Irish converts are gathering their belongings aboard ship; an Englishman leads a Welsh family off the ship and toward Zion.

The Saints have crossed the plains and almost reached their destination. The group of three in the lead represents Norwegians; a Swedish family follows them; a group of Danes brings up the rear.

On the other side of the temple, we see a group of American pioneers, including a couple pulling a handcart, who have just arrived in the mountains visible at the left of this picture.

A large number of Mexican Saints, the men identified by their sombreros and with some of their goods packed on a donkey, have left their Missions in the Southwest and approach the Lord’s House.


Another large group, this time of Indians, is also coming to the temple. The man toward the back with his arm outstretched is their chief who urges them onward; he is followed by another chief carrying a peace pipe.


This last group represents the Hawaiian Saints. Because they have their own temple in Hawaii by this time, these Saints are not traveling, but are pursuing the ordinary occupations of life. We see fishermen, two men pounding poi, and a woman playing the ukelele.

Spires and Moroni

There is neither spire nor Statue on the Mesa Arizona Temple

Individuals and Contractors

Contractor  Member Built
Sculptor  Torlief Knaphus

Sources and Links

External links

Additional Articles

J. W. Lesueur, “The Arizona Temple”, Improvement Era, 30 (12): 1062–1072, October 1927


  1. [1]Brown, David M. (September 27, 2009), “Mesa temple is a big draw”, The Arizona Republic
  2. [2]Heber J. Grant, in the Improvement Era of September, 1927
  3. [3]Richard O. Cowan “The Historic Arizona Temple” Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2005. Accessed 24 June 2017.
  4. [4]Trent Toone, “Notable 2017 LDS Church dates and anniversaries”, Deseret News, 4 January 2017. Accessed 24 June 2017.
  5. [5] “Mesa Arizona Temple”,, retrieved 2012-10-09
  6. [6]“News of the Church”Ensign, June 1975
  7. [7]“We praise Thy Holy Name, our Beloved Father”Church News, April 19, 1975
  8. [8]“President Kimball Rededicates Arizona Temple,” Ensign, June 1975. Accessed 26 June 2017.
  9. [9]“Three Mormon Temples in the US to Close for Renovation,” MormonNewsroom, 27 June 2017. Accessed 27 June 2017.
  10. [10]World’s Largest Annual Outdoor Easter Pageant Draws Crowds Topping 150,000 During 10-Day Run, Business Wire, 2005-03-09, retrieved 2012-10-09
  11. [11]Griffiths, Lawn (2007-03-24), “Mesa Mormon temple prepares for Easter pageant”East Valley Tribune, retrieved 2012-10-09
  12. [12]“Mesa Arizona Temple: The Gathering of Israel” Ensign, October 2003. Accessed 24 June 2017.


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