In the latest stage of the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple, the angel Moroni statue and circular capstone beneath its feet were removed from the temple’s central east spire. These historic items were carried Monday morning through the air to the ground via crane for preservation and refurbishing. This will prepare both items for a later reinstallation.
Daniel Woodruff, spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released the following statement to the media on the morning of May 18, 2020:
This morning, crews on Temple Square are working to remove the angel Moroni statue and capstone which stand atop the Salt Lake Temple. This has long been planned as part of the temple renovation, but the timeline to do so was accelerated following the earthquake in March. The statue and capstone will be preserved and refurbished before being reinstalled at a later date. Work also continues to remove stones from the upper spires of the temple for preservation during the project. Those stones will be reinstalled in the future.
“The Salt Lake Temple is the house of the Lord, and it is being shored up and strengthened to be able to stand for generations to come,” said Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations. “Each aspect of this project plays an important role in helping this sacred structure to remain a symbol of permanence, optimism, and faith for people around the world.”
The removal of the statue and capstone had long been planned as part of the temple’s years-long structural and seismic renovation. The timeline for this portion of the project was sped up following a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in March 2020 that shook the trumpet out of Moroni’s right hand and caused other minor damage.
While no crew members were injured during the quake, Paul Lawrence of Jacobsen Construction said the trembling earth was a reminder of the importance of a seismic upgrade.
“The earthquake loosened some of those pieces [on top of the temple],” said Lawrence, the renovation’s seismic project manager. “And in order to make the surrounding area safe, we’ve simply had to move those activities forward and take them off now instead of later. The recent event that we had simply reinforces the vision and direction that we’ve been given to strengthen the temple.”
The renovation of the historic building will include the installment of a base isolation system to help the building withstand a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Lawrence said this system connects the base with the temple roof through secure rods and cables in the towers to protect the building from further damage.
“We create a safe zone around the perimeter of the building where that building can move,” Lawrence said. “It allows the building to move with the earthquake up to four or five feet in any one direction.”
Before the base isolation system can be installed, workers are drilling to strengthen the stone foundation of this structure first completed in 1893. Crews are pumping grout into the foundation’s gaps—a process that increases its solidity and strength as well as the appreciation of Lawrence and his team for the fine work of those 19th-century pioneer builders.
“I feel a reverence for the craftsmen and individuals that have gone before us and built this wonderful structure,” said Lawrence, who plans to retire when this temple renovation is complete. “To be a part of what they did so many years ago and everything that they had to sacrifice—that hit me when we uncovered the original foundations and saw the markings and the evidence of the work they did.”