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After more than two years of extensive renovation, the Mormon temple in Idaho Falls will reopen starting this weekend for a public open house.

Church officials say more than 160,000 reservations had been made for the open house, which runs through Saturday, May 20, except for Sundays during that period.

Free reservations for tours of the temple, on the shores of the Snake River at 1000 Memorial Drive, can be made by visiting

A cultural celebration of music and dance, featuring area youths, will be held Saturday, June 3. The temple will be formally rededicated Sunday, June 4, in three sessions.

"The Idaho Falls Temple is this grand architectural statement about where the church wanted [to] be in its next hundred years, as much as the Salt Lake Temple is a statement about where it had been for the last hundred years," Emily Utt, historic sites curator for the Church History Department, said in a news release. "We wanted this temple to still feel like it had been built in the 1940s. We didn't want this to feel like a brand-new building."

Still, all of the structure's mechanical and electrical systems have been upgraded, even as architectural and design teams painstakingly identified and used materials in construction when the original temple was originally dedicated in 1945.

Inside, special care was taken to protect the temple's original murals, which also underwent restoration by a team of art conservators tasked with repairs and removal of 70 years of accumulated grime.

The Upper Snake River Valley's first Mormon settlers arrived with the railroad in 1879.

The Idaho Falls Temple was the first one built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Gem State. At the time, it was the eighth operating temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which now has 156 temples worldwide.

The Idaho Falls Temple also is one of four currently operating in the state; a fifth temple is to be dedicated in Meridian on Nov, 19, and the Utah-based faith recently announced plans for a sixth Idaho temple, which will rise in Pocatello.

Other existing Idaho temples are in Twin Falls, Boise and Rexburg.

Mormons view temples as Houses of God, reserved for eternal marriage and other ordinances. Once formally dedicated, only members in good standing may enter.

Bob Mims

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