Mesa Arizona LDS Temple
The Mesa Arizona Temple was the first LDS temple constructed in the state of Arizona. This temple is internationally known for its Easter and Christmas pageants held each year. There is a visitor center where all are welcomed. However, to see inside the Temple beyond the lobby one must be a member of the LDS faith that is endowed, or, someone having gone through a sacred ordinance. The only exception is when a temple is being renovated, the LDS church holds a rededication ceremony that includes an open house where the general public is welcome to come inside the temple for a tour prior to the rededication. Note: The Temple and Visitors' Center addresses are not the same. Temple address is: 101 South LeSeur, Mesa, AZ 85204 Visitors' Center address is: 525 E. Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85203
Backstory and Context
The LDS temple in Mesa was one of the first to be constructed by the church. The winning design was proposed by Don Carlos Young, Jr. and Ramm Hansen. Announced in 1919, only a few years after Arizona had achieved statehood, it was one of 3 temples announced and constructed to serve outlying Latter-day Saint settlements in the early part of the twentieth century.
Numerous colonies had been set up in Arizona by the church during the last half of the nineteenth century, and plans had been discussed for a temple in the area as early as 1908, but the start of World War I stopped these for a while. The plan to build a temple in Mesa, Arizona was finally announced on October 3, 1919 and a 20-acre (81,000 m2) site was selected and bought in 1921. The site was dedicated shortly after on November 28, 1921 and on April 25, 1922 the groundbreaking ceremony took place. Heber J. Grant conducted the ceremony.
Following the earlier traditions set forth in the building of temples, such as the Salt Lake Temple, the new structure in Mesa was a centerpiece of an organized and planned community for the faithful that lived nearby. Upon its completion in 1927 it was the third largest temple in use by the church and the largest outside of Utah, and remains among the largest temples constructed to this day. The temple was dedicated on October 23, 1927 by Heber J. Grant.
In a departure from the style of temples constructed prior, the Mesa temple (along with the temples in Laie and Cardston) was built in a style suggestive of the Temple in Jerusalem, lacking the spires that have become a mainstay of temples built since then, and was in fact the last LDS temple constructed without a spire. On the outside walls are depictions of the gathering of God's people in the Old and New world and on the Pacific Islands. The temple design is similar to ancient buildings found in the Southern U.S. and South America.
The Mesa Temple was closed in February 1974, for extensive remodeling that equipped the ordinance rooms for motion-picture presentation of the endowment sessions, and that added a new entrance and an additional 17,000 square feet, providing larger dressing rooms and increasing the number of sealing rooms. Spencer W. Kimball re-dedicated the temple on April 16, 1975.
Just north of the temple is a visitors' center where people can enjoy murals, videos, displays, and other activities. The visitors' center also houses a replica of a statue of Jesus Christ by Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldson called the Christus. The visitors' centers and grounds are staffed by Mormon Missionaries and the public is welcome to walk on the temple grounds and enjoy the well-kept gardens.
During Christmas there is a light display and a nativity scene. During late March to early April, the temple hosts the Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant Jesus the Christ, which attracts approximately 150,000 people annually and is the "largest annual outdoor Easter pageant in the world."