A Temple Building People
Updated: Apr 27
The First Sixteen Operating Temples:
After starting construction on the 17th temple the Church has continuously had at least one temple under construction.
The Church is almost constantly building new temples. Since the Church was organized there have only been a few brief periods where they have not been actively building temples, it is one of the defining characteristics of the Church. My personal interest in the temples began in the late 1980's with a realization that the Church was building more temples faster than they ever had before. Between my becoming a Deacon (1978) and when I left on my mission (1986) the Church dedicated 22 new temples, more than doubling the number then in operation. This post is about the periods of temple building and the pauses when the Church was not building temples.
Since the Church was organized on 6 April 1830 it has had a new temple announced or under construction continuously for about 152 years out of its 193 year history or about 78.8% of that history and for the last 47 years and counting (as of 6 April 2023).
Original City Plat of Independence with the site for the temple in the center
Joseph Smith organized the Church on 6 April 1830. From that date until he received a revelation on 20 July 1831 that Independence Missouri was to be the site of a temple (D&C 57) there were no temples announced or under construction (about 1 year 4 months). The Church was driven out of Missouri before construction could begin in earnest on the Independence Temple.
The Church was commanded to build a temple in Kirtland Ohio on 2 August 1833 (D&C 94). This was the first temple the church dedicated in this dispensation. The Kirtland Temple was dedicated on 27 March 1836 (Kirtland Temple). After Kirtland, temples were also planned for Far West Missouri (D&C 115) and Adam-ondi-Ahman Missouri (Far West and Adam-Ondi Ahman) but not constructed (see my post on Suspended Construction). Between the dedication of Kirtland and the announcement of plans to build the Nauvoo Temple in August 1840 (The Nauvoo Temple: Destruction and Rebirth), and accounting for the periods when they were actively attempting to begin construction on temples in Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman, the Church had no temples announced or under construction for about 3 years 1 month.
Original Nauvoo Temple
Each part of the Nauvoo Temple was dedicated as it was completed so Church members could use them immediately. The last portion was dedicated on 30 April 1846 (The First Nauvoo Temple: So Great a Cause). From that date until the announcement of plans to build the Salt Lake Temple on 26 July 1847 (The Design, Construction, and Role of the Salt Lake Temple) the Church had no temples announced or under construction (about 1 year 3 months).
Salt Lake Temple
The Salt Lake Temple took 46 years to build. During that time the Church also built and dedicated the St. George Utah, Logan Utah and Manti Utah Temples (Temple List). The Salt Lake Temple was dedicated on 6–24 April 1893 (The Design, Construction, and Role of the Salt Lake Temple and Harper's weekly. v.37 Jan.-June 1893, pg 510: Inside the New Mormon Temple). From that date until the announcement of the Cardston Alberta Temple on 4 October 1912 (The First Modern Temple) the Church had no temples announced or under construction (about 19 years 4 months). This is the longest period the Church has gone without having a temple announced or under construction. It was during this period that the Church transitioned from gathering the saints to a physical location (where temples were located) to encouraging them to build up Zion in their homelands and therefore building temples near them.
Cardston Alberta Temple
During construction of the Cardston Alberta Temple the church also built and dedicated the Laie Hawaii Temple and began construction of the Mesa Arizona Temple (Temple List). The Mesa Arizona Temple was dedicated on 23–26 October 1927 (Mesa Arizona Temple). From that date until the announcement of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple on 3 March 1937 (Idaho Falls Idaho Temple Fact Sheet) the Church had no temples announced or under construction (about 9 years 3 months).
Idaho Falls Idaho Temple
The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was dedicated on 23–25 September 1945 (Idaho Falls Idaho Temple Fact Sheet). From that date until the groundbreaking of the Los Angeles California Temple on 22 September 1951 the Church had no temples under construction (about 6 years) but since the Los Angeles California Temple had been announced on 6 March 1937 it did have a temple announced (construction on the Los Angeles Temple was delayed by World War II) (Los Angeles California Temple and Saints in the Secular City: A History of the Los Angeles Stake, pg 162-163).
Los Angeles Temple
During construction of the Los Angeles Temple the church also built and dedicated the Bern Switzerland Temple and began construction of the Hamilton New Zealand and London England Temples (Temple List). The London England Temple was dedicated on 7–9 September 1958 (Celebrating 60 Years of the London England Temple). From that date until the announcement of the Oakland California Temple on 23 January 1961 (California Saints: A 150-Year Legacy in the Golden State - Chapter 19: Buildings and Blessings: 1950–1964) the Church had no temples announced or under construction (about 2 years 5 months).
Oakland California Temple
The Oakland California Temple was dedicated on 17–19 November 1964 (Oakland California Temple). From that date until the announcement of the Provo Utah and Ogden Utah temples on 14 and 24 August 1967 respectively (Provo Utah Temple and Ogden Utah Temple) the Church had no temples announced or under construction (about 2 years 9 months).
Ogden Utah Temple
The Church constructed the Ogden Utah, Provo Utah and Washington DC temples concurrently with the Washington DC Temple dedicated last on 19–22 November 1974 (Washington D.C. Temple). From that date until the announcement of the São Paulo Brazil Temple on 1 March 1975 (São Paulo Brazil Temple) the Church had no temples announced or under construction (about 3 months).
Since the São Paulo Brazil Temple groundbreaking on 20 March 1976 (The Sao Paulo Temple: Story of Sacrifice and Learning) the Church has had at least one temple under construction and multiple temples announced (Temple List).
The First, Fiftieth, One-hundredth and One-hundred Fiftieth Operating Temples:
St. George Utah, St. Louis Missouri, Boston Massachusetts and Provo City Center
The Church dedicated its first operating temple in 1877, its 50th in 1997, 120 years later, its 100th in 2000, 3 years later, and its 150th in 2016, 16 years later (Temple List).