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HomeWorldYour First Look Inside the Helena Montana Temple + How It Was Built Differently

Your First Look Inside the Helena Montana Temple + How It Was Built Differently

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In the past five years alone, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the construction of 133 new houses of the Lord. That’s nearly double the number the faith had in operation (159) in April 2018 when President Russell M. Nelson first announced new temples at a general conference.

This prolific and unprecedented season of temple announcements has moved Church leaders to consider ways to expedite construction while maintaining the same high-quality craftsmanship.


“The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have often asked the Lord if there are better ways to take the blessings of the temple to His faithful children,” President Nelson has said.

“We can’t take five or 10 years to build a temple now and keep up with President Nelson,” added W. Christopher Waddell, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric—the group overseeing President Nelson’s temple-building vision. “[We must find] ways to be more productive, to use sacred resources more effectively, to perhaps change the way we do things in some ways. We can’t build the Salt Lake Temple all over the world.”

One path currently being considered for select temples is the modular construction employed by BLOX, a company based in Alabama. They are helping the Church of Jesus Christ pilot a faster way of building temples—beginning with the Helena Montana Temple, which opens to the public on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

Temples are currently done in a “stick-built process where you recreate projects every single time” on-site and from scratch, said Corinne Ambler, a project director with BLOX. BLOX designs and manufactures the temple at their 50-acre facility in Bessemer, Alabama, and then puts those prefabricated pieces—walls, floors, and other components—together at the temple site with cranes and other lifting equipment.

This is how the temple in Helena was done. BLOX arranged the 10,000-square-foot, 96-foot-high temple into 25 separate modules. Each of those 25 pieces was created, shrink-wrapped, and carried by semi truck to the 4.8-acre site located at 1260 Otter Road in Helena, where workers stitched together the modules. The electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, along with exterior art deco stone cladding and tower assembly, were also done on-site.

The modules “piece together perfectly to align so that we can take the temple anywhere in the world,” said Matt Burke of the Church’s Special Projects Department.

Up until this project, BLOX (founded in 2009) had focused on emergency rooms in hospitals and isolation care units rapidly deployed to address COVID-19 bed shortages.

“No buildings have ever been tried to be built at this level with modular construction,” Burke said.

To learn more about the Church’s temples, BLOX officials visited houses of the Lord in Mesa, Arizona, and Memphis, Tennessee.

“The temple program is exquisite. It’s sacred,” said BLOX CEO Chris Giattina. “It is not just something that you casually go about. The first part of that was trying to understand what it was, what it really meant to do a temple.”

Elder Kevin R. Duncan, executive director of the Church’s Temple Department, said recently that God “has spared no expense in giving us the most beautiful earth that we have to live on. And because we’re building His house, we strive to give our very best—our very best craftsmanship, the very best materials that we can.”

After visiting the temples in Mesa and Memphis, Giattina said he learned his company needed to perfect their precision.

“And so we developed a platform,” he said. “And when we assembled the units, we knew within a width of the laser whether it was plumb or not.”

This focus on quality is “what differentiates the Church from any other client that I’ve worked with,” Ambler said.

Zach Hart, a Latter-day Saint in Alabama who oversaw logistics on the Helena Temple construction, said working on this project has been a blessing because others in his family have built temples for the Church.

“When I told my family what I was going to do in my new job, it was a tearful moment to understand that we’re bringing it full circle,” Hart said.

Leo Paul, a native of Haiti who now lives in Utah, is an assistant project manager for the Helena Temple. He said the Helena Temple structure made at BLOX was pieced together on-site in a mere two weeks.

“[It’s] a joy for me,” Paul said of his work on the temple. He served a full-time mission without experiencing the blessings of worship in a temple prior to serving his mission (the house of the Lord in Port-au-Prince wasn’t finished until 2019).

This new modular method of construction will allow the Church to build more temples more quickly, bringing them closer to Latter-day Saints everywhere like Paul in Haiti. He said he’s grateful to “bring temples to many more people in a much faster time period.”

Invited guests are touring the Helena Temple from today, May 15, through May 17, 2023. Beginning May 18, anyone can walk through this house of the Lord until Saturday, June 3 (except for Sundays) to appreciate its style that reflects Helena’s vibrant 19th-century architectural history, as well as the area’s Native American artwork.

The design of the building complements other architectural designs in Montana’s capital city. The decorative patterns were derived from the buttercup plant found throughout the state, utilizing the flower and leaf designs to draw upon principles of Native American geometric patterns. The temple’s detailing includes buttressing and employs horizontal bands, like mountain cliff faces with geologic seams. The primary decorative detail band on the temple’s exterior marks the transition between the building and the sky.

After the open house, only faithful Latter-day Saints can enter—starting on Sunday, June 18, 2023, when Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicates the temple for the performance of sacred rites and ceremonies, such as marriage and baptism for deceased ancestors.

Some 51,000 Latter-day Saints reside in Montana. The state’s first temple was built in Billings. Another is coming to Missoula.

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