So new temples were announced in General Conference for Kinshasa, Congo; Barranquilla, Columbia; Durban, South Africa; Star Valley, Wyoming; and Provo, Utah (which already has a temple, and will get a new one with the recently burned Tabernacle being rebuilt as a temple). We were also reminded that the church is building a temple in Paris, France (which was announced about 2 months ago).
I'm excited for these temples. I love that the continent of Africa is going from having 3 temples to 5 temples. I also love that Star Valley, Wyoming (near Jackson Hole) is getting a temple. I was up there about a month ago and found out that Afton, Wyoming has a Tabernacle. Maybe the new temple will be built near that Tabernacle. I am glad that Wyoming will finally have a temple. I'd have guessed that a temple would be built near Casper so that it would be by Martin's Cove, but Star Valley probably has a larger Mormon population.
Then there is the Provo Temple. Okay, that name is already taken by the Provo Temple. Let's call it the Provo Tabernacle Temple (Provo Temple 2?). I was reading various reactions to this new temple online and one commenter, who apparently reads this blog, mentioned The Trumpet Stone and wondered what I would think about the Second Provo Temple. So I guess I'm obligated to give my opinion :).
I love the idea of turning the shell of the Tabernacle into a temple. When the Tabernacle burned it was unclear what the church would do. Tabernacles were the first stake centers (which is why when the modern stake centers were introduced in the 1950s or so the church stopped building Tabernacles). Since that time, many Tabernacles have been torn down, but a lot have been preserved. The preserved ones are used for stake conferences from time to time and for community meetings and special events such as concerts. To fully restore the burned Provo Tabernacle would have been extremely expensive for a building that the church doesn't build anymore and whose function can be fulfilled by numerous other buildings in the city. This meant that the church would be spending a lot for something they didn't need. Making the Tabernacle into a temple gets around this problem because the money for restoration will also make the Tabernacle into something useful and needed, not superfluous (although historic and beautiful and great for the city).
Some have commented that they think it is too costly to make a temple out of a Tabernacle. I've seen comments claiming that the church would never make a temple out of an existing structure after the Vernal Utah Temple because that temple cost too much. These people seem unaware that the Copenhagen Denmark Temple and Manhattan New York Temple were both built out of existing structures after the Vernal Temple was completed. Even if the church doesn't like remodeling existing structures into temples, the Provo Tabernacle Temple is a unique situation. The interior has already been gutted for us. To not build will involve the cost of demolition at the least. This means that this temple remodel should be simpler than the other re-purposed temples and the cost shouldn't be prohibitive.
You can see a rendering of the new Provo Temple here. You can also see it at newsroom.lds.org. I like the rendering. I read online that one person didn't like that they were adding the central tower. I think the building has looked odd ever since they removed the original central tower in 1917. The original tower was causing structural problems so they removed it, but this made the building look odd. Later they removed the square base of the spire and went with a simple roof ridge. This helped aesthetics a little, but the corner towers still looked like they were meant to have a companion. The new temple central tower is a faithful reproduction of the original central tower (either lighter this time, or with stronger supports) with the addition of a statue of the Angel Moroni. I'm guessing that the finials on the four corner towers weren't originally gold leafed, and I like that they will match the new statue of Moroni. I also like the light color of the tower which helps the building feel like a light, bright, holy temple (similar to the two white tower tops on the Logan Temple that help overcome the dark stone of the main building).
I also like the use of brick on this temple. Several other temples are made of brick including the Vernal Utah Temple (converted from a tabernacle), the Copenhagen Denmark Temple (converted from a chapel) and the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. I like the red brick. It reminds me of the blood of Christ. It also reminds me of Nauvoo and the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo where the Temple Endowment was first given to a select few by Joseph Smith while the temple was being completed. I also love the buttressing of the walls, the pointed arches, and the keystones and other prominent stones done in a lighter grey or white. I like the stained glass windows (added when they removed the original spire) and it appears that they will be restoring the windows. Since the central tower never would have had stained glass windows it will be interesting to see how they do those windows and if they use them to work in symbolism.
Another thing I like about this temple is that it will be the second (or third if you count the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple) temple with five towers (the Oakland California Temple also has five towers). I am not the biggest fan of central tower temples, but I like the look with four complimentary corner towers.
I look forward to seeing how the interior of this temple will look. The original tabernacle had an ornate interior. I hope the copy a lot of the beautifully carved elements for the temple. By the way, the church is adding ornately carved moldings to the Brigham City Temple. You can see pictures in this article. I hope similarly ornate work goes into the temple rooms. Here is what the tabernacle interior used to look like.
It will also be interesting to see how they divide the interior into rooms. I've never been in the original tabernacle, so I'm unsure just how much floorspace is available. I'd assume that that the church will add an underground annex with dressing rooms and offices and perhaps a chapel so as much of the historic building as possible can be used for temple ordinances.
There are some of my thoughts on these new temples, and mainly on the Provo Tabernacle Temple. Please comment and let us know what you think about these temples.