Rexburg, Idaho will soon be home to a second temple, and it will be significantly larger than any temple built in over 40 years.
The recently announced Teton River Idaho Temple, which will sit (as predicted), on a large lot across Salem Rd. from Rexburg’s gorgeous Walmart. At the time the temple was announced—originally branded the Rexburg North Idaho Temple—many assumed the new edifice would be similar in size and scope to the existing Rexburg Idaho Temple down the road.
My how we were wrong.
In announcing the location of the Teton River temple, the Church also revealed that the temple will be three stories and approximately 130,000 square feet. That would make it either the sixth- or seventh-largest temple in the entire Church, depending on if it exceeds the Provo Temple’s 130,825 square feet (to say nothing of how large the fully reimagined Provo temple will be).
In era where smaller temples are dotting the landscape, and legacy temples are removing some frills and services, new temples along the so-called Mormon Corridor have often bucked the trend. In Utah, most new temples are following two floorplans: one of roughly 88,000 square feet, and another of approximately 70,000 square feet. Some even have two baptistries! Only one new temple, the (largely unplanned) Ephraim Utah Temple, is smaller. And the Red Cliffs Utah Temple, announced before President Nelson’s post-Moroni tenure, is nearly 100,000 square feet, but not quite past that threshold.
|Salt Lake Temple||253,000|
|Los Angeles California Temple||190,614|
|Washington DC Temple||156,558|
|Jordan River Utah Temple||148,236|
|St. George Utah Temple||142,000|
|Provo Utah Temple||130,825|
|Logan Utah Temple||119,619|
|Mexico City Mexico Temple||116,642|
|Mesa Arizona Temple||113,916|
|Ogden Utah Temple||112,232|
|Seattle Washington Temple||110,000|
|Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple||107,240|
|Bountiful Utah Temple||104,000|
It seemed as if we were beyond the era of 100,000 square foot temples. After all, much of the square footage of those larger temples was for laundry and cafeterias as well as chapels and assembly halls. Newer temples often lack those areas.
Most newer “large” temples wind up somewhere in the 40,000-60,000 square foot range. The last temple to get close to 100,000 square feet is the 96,630 sq. ft. Payson Utah Temple.
Eastern Idaho is much more densely populated with Latter-day Saints than the rest of the state, and Rexburg, home to BYU-Idaho, is no exception. The city is home to 13 student stakes – 3 of them for married students. There is one more “proper” stake in the city, as well as stake to the northwest, and one in Sugar City, as well as a few more closer to Montana and Wyoming.
Why the surge into the upper tier of temple sizes? We can only speculate. There are plenty of members in Rexburg, but most of them are students who are already attending the Rexburg temple. Remove BYU from the equation, and Rexburg’s LDS population looks like most of eastern Idaho on a per capita basis. Again, the temple will be roughly the same size as the Provo temple, but Provo’s first temple supports a much larger city, as well as students from a much larger university, and missionaries from the Missionary Training Center. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, and unless the Church has secret plans to build a new city off of US-20, the new temple will be surrounded by fields.
And Walmart. Do not forget Walmart.