Washington D.C. Temple at dusk in Kensington, Maryland, USA.

Washington D.C. Temple Opens Doors to General Public for First Time in 50 Years

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has completed a two year renovation project of their Washington D.C. Temple. As with other LDS temples, this one has been open only to members since its dedication in 1974, but with renovations complete, the temple has opened its doors briefly to all who want to tour until June 11th.

Washington D.C. Temple at dusk in Kensington, Maryland, USA.
(By Joe Ravi, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

When the temple finished original construction between 1971 and 1974, the church allowed the general public to tour between September and October that year, resulting in some 750,000 visiting before its dedication by LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball.

According to LDS policy, “When a temple is first built, it is briefly open for public tours. Once dedicated, attendance is reserved for faithful members of the Church who are ready to participate in additional gospel ordinances (though the grounds around the temple remain open to the public).”

The Washington D.C. Temple stands as a landmark which can be seen by drivers along the Capital Beltway. The temple itself is 160,000 square feet, has six spires echoing the design of the Salt Lake Temple, and a central tower reaching 288 feet high, built on 57 acres atop a hill in Kensington, Maryland. It was designed by Latter-day Saint architects Harold K. Beecher, Henry P. Fetzer, Fred L. Markham, and Keith W. Wilcox. In 2018 the temple closed for renovations, which were completed in 2020, but the open house and dedication was delayed until 2022 because of the pandemic.

When it was originally opened, this was the 16th operating temple of the LDS Church and the first built on the East Coast of the United States. Today there are 164 LDS temples. The D.C. temple serves church members in D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and New Jersey.