POCATELLO — The Art Deco architecture of the planned local temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be reminiscent of Pocatello High School and Idaho State University’s pharmacy and administration buildings.
The interior color scheme will feature soft shades inspired by the valley’s landscape, including light-green to signify sagebrush and gold, similar to the dried grasses covering the foothills during summer.
The motif will also feature native wildflowers from the area: Indian paintbrush, syringa and bitterroot.
Officials with the LDS Church invited residents of the Satterfield Drive neighborhood, where the temple will be located, to a Friday night open house at the Highland Stake Center. Guests were treated to a rare sneak peek of temple designs, intended to encapsulate the community’s best features.
An invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony for the temple will be led by Elder Wilford W. Andersen, who is the president of the Idaho Area Presidency, at 11 a.m. on March 16.
“We’ve never invited the community in like this to see the renderings prior to a (groundbreaking),” said Kim Farah, public relations manager for the church.
“For us to have this tonight is a first for me, and I’ve worked in public relations since 1999.”
Guests also had the chance to meet with the officials who will spearhead construction of the 67,000-square-foot sacred building and the architect who oversaw the designs.
Jared Doxey, director of construction in the U.S. and Canada for the church, said Salt Lake City-based Oakland Construction has worked with the church many times and will be the general contractor.
“They’re one of our very best contractors,” Doxey said.
He said the project will use mostly subcontractors from Pocatello through Idaho Falls, many of whom were involved in renovating the Idaho Falls temple about a year and a half ago. He said 80 to 120 construction workers will be at the site on any given day throughout construction, which should take roughly two to three years to complete.
Bill Williams, director of design for temples with the LDS Church, led a group of people who spent time in the community to conduct a “precedent study,” seeking to glean characteristics that define the community. Williams was well equipped for the challenge, having been raised in Pocatello.
“Whenever we build a temple in the community, we want to make sure it feels a part of that community,” Williams said. “Having grown up here, we recognized what’s great about Pocatello is it has this great historic aura. They built some great old buildings.”
Some of the decorative elements of Pocatello High School — the look of the parapets, the cornice line and the frames surrounding the windows, for example — will be incorporated in the design of the temple’s facade.
“If you look at Pocatello High School and the way they developed the exterior, which is this transition between classicism and modernism, that’s what we used as the design motif for the temple,” Williams said.
The three native flowers he selected will also be incorporated throughout the temple’s exterior and interior, adorning the decorative friezes, the stained-glass windows, the ceiling coffers, the carpeting and the light fixtures, among other features.
Williams and his team chose the syringa because it’s the state flower. Bitterroot is a gorgeous, pink flower of especial significance to Native American tribes, he explained. Paintbrush is ubiquitous throughout the community’s open spaces and has a “fabulous” bloom, he added.
The church will likely commission four to six paintings to hang inside, which will also lend a local flair. Williams said paintings will include both religious themes and scenes intended to depict the area. For example, local artists have been commissioned to create large paintings of Arbon Valley and the Moonlight Mine area.
About 1,000 local LDS teenagers are expected to help clear sagebrush from the construction site on Tuesday night. Bill McKee, a local church public affairs official involved in planning the groundbreaking, said the church could have brought in heavy construction equipment to do the job.
“Our hope is the youth will experience this service project as a wonderful memory for their participation in the temple groundbreaking ceremony,” McKee said.
The local interfaith community has been invited to play a role in the temple’s groundbreaking ceremony. McKee said eight pastors representing different faiths will be given ceremonial shovels to turn earth during the ceremony.
“I think it’s a first,” McKee said, explaining the LDS Church has close ties to leaders of the various faiths in Pocatello. “The interfaith leaders will be standing alongside 22 local stake presidents in turning the earth as part of the groundbreaking ceremony.”
Officials said a big reason for hosting the Friday event was to address concerns of people living in the neighborhood, especially among people who aren’t LDS Church members.
“The sketches and everything are beautiful,” said Mark Dahlquist, a Catholic who lives a few blocks away from the temple site. “I think it’s going to be a good amenity for this community.”
Dahlquist acknowledged he’s curious about the possible traffic impacts of having a new temple near his home.
McKee explained to him the temple should draw less traffic than the Highland Stake Center, and it will be accessed by entrances from three directions.
“I’ve lived in Pocatello my whole life, and I never thought Pocatello would have a temple,” said Morgan Yost, an LDS Church member who is Dahlquist’s neighbor. “I’m excited to watch it be built.”
Matt Mecham, another member of the church who lives in the neighborhood, is eager for the opportunity to walk to a temple, having driven to Idaho Falls to visit a temple thus far.
Church member Nathan Cuoio has heard a few concerns voiced about how the temple may affect traffic and water pressure in his neighborhood. Mostly, he said people throughout the neighborhood recognize the temple will be a blessing and a “huge positive thing for the city.” He anticipates property values in the area will climb as a result.