When one first views the new Meridian Idaho Temple, there’s a sense of familiarity, a hint of nostalgia emanating from the exterior shape and design of what will be the Church’s 158th operating temple.
That’s because the exterior resembles the Cardston Alberta and Laie Hawaii temples, which were built a century ago in the 1910s and 1920s. Meridian’s new temple shares with those two the Prairie School or Prairie Style — a late 19th- and early 20th-century North American architectural style featuring horizontal lines, restraint in decoration, flat or hipped roofs, windows assembled in horizontal bands and a design integrated with surrounding landscapes.
For Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it’s a welcome “echo” from the past.
“I do love the combination of the classical architecture with a historical connection with Laie and other temples,” he said. “I love the fact that from one generation to another of temples that there are some things that are consistent — there’s an echo, at least.
“But more than that,” Elder Cook added, “I love the fact that the Saints here are so worthy and so committed to the Savior that the Lord through His prophet would have a very special and beautiful temple here in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.”
The 67,331-square-foot temple — situated on a parcel of nearly 16 acres along with scenic walkways, ponds, hundreds of trees and several thousand shrubs — is among the Church’s 30 largest temples, close in size to the Boston Massachusetts, Preston England, Orlando Florida and San Diego California temples.
When dedicated next month, it will be the fifth temple in Idaho, along with temples in Boise, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls and Rexburg, with a sixth announced for Pocatello.
With the city named for the Boise meridian, one of 35 principal meridians used for surveying in the United States, the temple’s exterior takes on a similar theme with its nod to geometry through lines and shapes. One recurring shape is the octagon, used from the baptismal font inside to the octagonal cupola cap, with the titanium surfacing changing colors from blue-gray to gold to bronze, depending on the sun.
And atop the cupola is the 13-foot, 6-inch gold-plated Angel Moroni statue, giving the temple a total height of 120 feet 2 inches.
Additional exterior design themes include agriculture and mountains, with the temple’s primary color palette of creamy white, gold, turquoise and bronze underscoring the flowers, fields, sky and woods of the surrounding Treasure Valley.
Those colors are splashed in the art-glass designs, with many featuring a floral theme, starting with seed elements at the base, then long stems reaching upward, and rising to blossoming lily-like flowers at the top.
Other floral designs used throughout include the camas flowers and the white syringa, Idaho’s state flower, with use ranging from the stained-glass windows to the carpet carvings in the celestial and sealing rooms.
The interiors feature Sunny Vinato marble from Egypt and extensive millwork of mahogany-like Sapele wood from Africa. The temple has three instruction rooms — the two featuring wrap-around murals of regional landscapes — and five sealing rooms.
The Meridian Idaho Temple was one of three announced by President Thomas S. Monson in the April 2011 general conference. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided over the Aug. 23, 2014, groundbreaking and site dedication. The Angel Moroni statue was set atop the building on July 20, 2016.
The public open house runs from Saturday, Oct. 21, through Nov. 11, excluding Sundays. The temple will be dedicated on Sunday, Nov. 19, in three sessions, which will be broadcast to temple-district meetinghouses in the 16 stakes in southwestern and eastern Idaho. The broadcast will also be provided throughout the state of Idaho.
Elder Cook and Elder Larry Y. Wilson, who is a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, helped lead special-guest groups through the temple in the weekdays before the public open house.
The 8.8-mile distance between the current Boise Idaho Temple and the new Meridian Idaho Temple is the shortest temple-to-temple distance outside of Utah, home to 18 operating or announced temples.
Elder Cook noted that the Boise area not only needs two temples to accommodate local members for their temple instruction, worship and ordinance work but also provide temple service as well.
“There’s something very special about having faithful people to have callings in temples, and it takes a large number of people to operate temples,” he said. “This is a place that I can see why the Lord would want a temple here, and I can see why the prophet determined that one should be here.”
While the Church’s presence in Idaho dates back to 1855, the first organized Church meetings in Meridian didn’t occur until 1932, with the city’s first meetinghouse coming in 1939.
Meridian’s first LDS stake was created in 1972. Meridian is currently home to 8 stakes, 63 congregations and nearly 28,000 Church members.