History of the Washington D.C. Temple
On a serene 57.4-acre hilltop in Kensington, Maryland, the Washington D.C. Temple creates an impressive sight for travelers along the Capital Beltway. The 16th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commonly serves Church members in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, New Jersey.
The Washington D.C. Temple was the first Latter-day Saint temple to be built on the East Coast of the United States. When the temple was completed in 1974, it served all Latter-day Saints living east of the Mississippi and some Latter-day Saints in South America and Canada. At 160,000 square feet, it is the third-largest temple in the world. It contains instruction rooms and sealing rooms, where marriages are performed.
Building the Temple
Prior to its dedication in November of 1974, the Washington D.C. Temple opened its doors to public tours for the first time. More than 750,000 guests toured the temple during the open house.
Dedication in 1974
Nearly six years after the temple was announced on November 15, 1968, the temple was ready to be dedicated. The temple opened to the public from September 17 to October 19, 1974, and more than 750,000 visitors toured the building. High-profile visitors, including Betty Ford, the wife of then-U.S. President Gerald Ford, were among those who viewed the temple interior. The temple was dedicated in 10 sessions held from November 19 to 22, 1974.
Church President Spencer W. Kimball offered the dedicatory prayer, in which he gave thanks for those who paved the way for the founding of the United States: “We are grateful that thou didst cause this land to be rediscovered and settled by people who founded a great nation with an inspired constitution guaranteeing freedom in which there could come the glorious restoration of the gospel and the Church of thy Beloved Son.”2
A City Set on a Hill
The Washington DC Temple has inspired onlookers and visitors alike for decades with its six pillars and Alabama marble exterior.
“Its spires leap nearly 300 feet into the sky,” said Ed O’Keefe from C.B.S. News. “At their pinnacle a 2-ton gold-covered angel issues a clarion call to the heavens. It’s clad in white Alabama marble, matching other monuments around the nation’s capital.”3
The temple will continue to inspire and testify the truth that the Savior Jesus Christ lives–not just to those from within their vehicles viewing the temple from the Beltway, but to all those from around the world who get a glimpse of this sacred structure.