Updated with information from the City of Mesa
Just last week we reported on the permanent closures of a few temple visitors centers, all in an effort to realign resources. Lest you thought that was the end of the purge, it appears we may see a other visitors centers closing permanently, including iconic ones.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just announced that along with the Mesa Arizona Temple’s long-term closure this May, the visitors center will also closed. Now it could be easy to see this as a nice way to renovate another piece of property in conjunction with the temple, but according to the Deseret News, Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff stated, “At this point, the future use of that building is undetermined…. Church leaders will make a decision based on the needs and demands of the area.”
Sounds ominous, no? No announcement of an actual renovation, just that the visitors center might as well close with the temple, rendering the entire temple block a quiet, temporary shell of itself. There’s always a chance that the “needs and demands of the area” will mean that the Church wants to keep one of its iconic properties running at full tilt. Then again, merely considering the closuring of this visitors center is a strong indication that a permanent shuttering is coming.
Indeed, in May 2018, when news broke that the Church was looking to demolish a number of homes to redevelop the area around the temple, Mesa Planning Director John Wesley confirmed that the existing visitors center on Main Street will be demolished, but hinted that there will be a new visitors center as part of the larger redevelopment initiative.
The Mesa Arizona Temple visitors center is famed for its Christmas decorations, as well as serving as the base for an annual Easter pageant, which started in 1928. While the 2018 pageant will continue as scheduled in the spring, there’s been no word on whether the temple and visitors center closures will affect a 2019 pageant.
What’s next? The Los Angeles Temple visitors center? Oakland? Hill Cumorah? Idaho Falls? Washington, DC?