In the latest update of the Salt Lake Temple renovation, the sealing wing, north entrance, and underground facilities have been removed to make way for extensive excavation.
People passing through Main Street Plaza on Temple Square can now look through the construction project fence windows and see some 170 years into the past.
The extensive renovation of the Salt Lake Temple, now in its ninth month, has laid bare much of the foundation stone first set by pioneering Latter-day Saints when the temple was in its infancy in 1853.
“It’s special to see those stones. It makes me think of the times in which the stones were laid, the resources that the Saints had during those times and the struggles they were going through,” says Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations for the Church. “Compare it to our days when, yeah, we may be struggling with worldwide pandemics and things like that, but our resources are very different and our technology is different.”
Such a historical perspective is helpful, says Kirk Dickamore of Jacobsen Construction, because it infuses the workers with a hope for this massive undertaking.
“The pioneers had their challenges and issues. They came into the valley. They had to build their homes. They had to plant crops. They had issues that they were dealing with,” says Dickamore, who oversees the Salt Lake Temple renovation project for Jacobsen. “We, too, have had issues with COVID-19, the [March 2020] earthquake and so forth. I know that we can get through it because the Lord is guiding this work and He’s influencing our activities each and every day.”
The 5.7 magnitude earthquake that hit on March 18, 2020, caused crews to pause for about one week while safety assessments were conducted. Some aspects of the renovation, such as the removal of the Moroni statue and temple spires, were expedited. COVID-19, on the other hand, has not disrupted the project, because Utah deems construction work essential. Instead of hindering the work, the pandemic has led to an increased emphasis on the holistic wellness of each worker.
“[The pandemic] has made us a lot more focused on people’s safety on-site. And not just their physical safety, but also their health and well-being,” says Spencer Loveless, a project manager with Jacobson who manages scheduling for the Temple Square construction site. “COVID is changing how we can move manpower through the building and how many people can be working next to each other at any one time.”