Address885 S Washington St
Afton, Wyoming 83110
Telephone: (+1) 307-886-6820
Announcement:1 October 2011
Groundbreaking and Site Dedication:25 April 2015 by Craig C. Christensen
Public Open House:23 September–8 October 2016
Dedication:30 October 2016 by David A. Bednar
Site:43.6 acres | 17.6 hectares
Exterior Finish:Precast concrete panels
Architectural Features:Single attached end spire with an angel Moroni statue
Ordinance Rooms:One instruction room, one sealing room, and one baptistry
Total Floor Area:18,609 square feet | 1,729 square meters
Height:123 feet | 37.5 meters
Elevation:6,218 feet | 1,896 meters
The Star Valley Wyoming Temple stands on a gentle rise overlooking Highway 89, just south of the community of Afton near the mouth of Hale Canyon. A unique feature of the building in the foyer is a stunning stained-glass depiction of Jesus Christ, which was a refurbished piece originally created for a Presbyterian Church in New York City. The classical design of the temple echoes architectural elements found in the historic Star Valley Tabernacle, located just a mile north of the temple. The buildings represent the spiritual heart and center of the Latter-day Saint community in Star Valley.
The Star Valley Wyoming Temple was the first temple built in the state of Wyoming. Star Valley is also the location of the first stake in Wyoming, organized on August 13, 1892.
During his opening remarks at the Saturday Morning Session of the October 2011 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced plans for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple. The announcement drew an audible reaction from the Conference Center congregation who marveled at the news. "I think I'll dedicate that one," quipped the prophet. "There's good fishing up there!"1
Grateful cheers and tears instantly filled the valley. "We were just as surprised as anyone," said President Mark Taylor of the Afton Wyoming Stake. "There have been a lot of well-wishers and residents who have already stepped forward and offered land and other donations to get the ball rolling." President Michael Allred of the Thayne Wyoming Stake commented, "I think it is important to note that this temple will not just be for members of our faith. This is for all residents of Star Valley and it will be a blessing to this area."2
On April 30, 2012, Star Valley Independent reported that a letter from the Presiding Bishop to Mayor Hillyard had confirmed the location of the temple. The letter proposed development of a portion of the site for the temple and requested a variance to the building height restriction of the zoning ordinance to accommodate a spire. "The actual temple is not too tall, it will just be the steeple," Mayor Hillyard said. "Our flight path maximum is 45 feet so they are going through this variance process. I do not anticipate a problem. It is so far up the hill away from the airport I don't think it will be an issue."3 Local members had previously speculated it may be constructed on a large recreational field next to the Star Valley Tabernacle. Others pointed to a bench at the mouth of Swift Creek Canyon, which was dubbed "Temple Hill" as early as August 1, 1891, in a Salt Lake publication of Deseret Weekly.
On May 8, 2012, the Afton Town Council unanimously approved a variance to permit the spire of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple to exceed zoning height restrictions. Although exact plans had not been determined, the temple was expected to be approximately 22,000 square feet with a 90-to-100-foot high spire. Temple renderings shown to the Council as possible representations included The Gila Valley Arizona Temple, Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple, Sacramento California Temple, and Calgary Alberta Temple. The exact design and orientation of the building would be determined in consultation with 15 surrounding land owners.4
On May 25, 2012, the Church officially announced the location of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple as east of U.S. Highway 89 on the Haderlie Farm property in the town of Afton, south of Star Valley Medical Center and north of the Star Valley View Golf Course. The mayor of Afton, Loni Hillyard, said that members are "elated at the prospects of a temple in our valley." She feels certain the temple "will have a positive effect on [the] entire community." Local Church spokesman Jerry Hansen said, "We truly believe this new temple will be a great asset not only to members of the Church but also to the people of the surrounding community, who will benefit from the peace and beauty a temple brings."5
When problems were encountered with the ground at the base of Hale Canyon—the originally desired location for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple—the building location was shifted west next to the highway. The contractor found the ground conditions at the new location to be ideal for the foundation, eliminating the usual need for extensive fill and compaction work.
On March 10, 2015, plans for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple were presented to the Afton Town Council, and approval was granted for a 30-month building permit. Construction was anticipated to begin on Monday, April 27—two days after the groundbreaking ceremony—with construction expected to last two years. "We are very grateful to the city and community for their support of the Star Valley Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said President McKell Allred, chairman of the Star Valley Temple Groundbreaking Committee. "Tonight was another important step in the process as we look forward to the official temple groundbreaking on April 25."6
Thousands of Church members and friends participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Star Valley Wyoming Temple on April 25, 2015. Many more joined by satellite and Internet transmissions. Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy presided. "There couldn't be a more appropriate place for a house of God," he said. "The temple is a gift of God. It is to the great heritage that is here… It links generations together. The temple will become a landmark, a sacred place for this valley for years to come."7
The placement of the angel Moroni atop the Star Valley Wyoming Temple took place April 25, 2016, exactly one year after the groundbreaking ceremony. The event was announced beforehand, allowing hundreds of spectators to gather and witness the raising.
Guests were invited to tour the Star Valley Wyoming Temple during a three-week open house held from September 23 through October 8, 2016. Approximately 78,000 people toured the interior of the building.
On the evening before the dedication of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple, thousands of young men and women performed a cultural celebration to honor the history of the state and the Church in Wyoming. The event was held at Star Valley High School.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the Star Valley Wyoming Temple on Sunday, October 30, 2016. He was accompanied by his wife, Susan, who was raised in Star Valley. While placing mortar around the cornerstone, Elder Bednar turned to wife and said, "We’ve got to have a Star Valley girl be the next one. Let's see how you do, here."8
In his dedicatory prayer, he expressed deep love and devotion saying, "Father, our words cannot express the smallest part of the love we have for Thee and Thy Beloved Son. Our strong desires are for righteousness and purity. We yearn to return to Thee with our families, sealed together for time and for all of eternity. This day our devotion is deepened, and our commitment to Thy eternal purposes is strengthened."
The Church has a long history in Star Valley with the first Latter-day Saints of record arriving from England in 1858 to labor on the Lander Cutoff. By 1870, Church cattle were pastured in the valley, and in 1879, a directive was issued to colonize the Salt River Valley—renamed Star Valley the next year. Members were first organized into a branch of the Bear Lake Stake. In 1892, the Star Valley Stake was organized with 7 wards. The 140-foot Star Valley Tabernacle, which still stands in Afton, was dedicated on August 15, 1909, by President Joseph F. Smith.
The Star Valley Wyoming Temple was prophesied by Elder Moses Thatcher of the Quorum of the Twelve. Thatcher came to the valley in the late 1870s, looking for a suitable location where colonizing Latter-day Saints could settle. Looking over the beautiful valley, he declared, "I hereby name this valley Star Valley because it is the star of all valleys." He later returned with Elder Charles C. Rich, a senior apostle, to dedicate the valley for the settlement of the Saints.
On July 3, 1894, Church officer George Goddard gave a report on his travels to Star Valley, as recorded in the Deseret Weekly. He referenced a prophesy given by Elder Moses Thatcher in his description of the temple bench: "A fine tract of bench land on the eastern portion of Afton will afford a beautiful site for a Temple hereafter to be built, as per prophesy of Elder Moses Thatcher. This bench lies at the mouth of Swift Creek canyon, from whence flows a large stream of pure water, flanked on either side by a park of beautiful swamp pines, many of which are more than 100 feet high."
On August 14–15, 2009, a centennial celebration of the dedication of the Star Valley Tabernacle was held, beginning with 100 rings of a pioneer church bell and the shot of a cannon. A 70-voice Star Valley Tabernacle Choir initiated the celebration with a concert featuring special guest Tom Osmond, whose great-grandfather, George Osmond, Jr., was the first president of the original Star Valley Stake. An organ solo was also performed on a pipe organ acquired from the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple in 1987. Saturday began with a 10-mile bike-a-thon from the tabernacle stone quarry to the tabernacle. Other activities included a ceremonial flag-raising, patriotic concert by a Centennial Brass Band, and numerous indoor and outdoor festivities. A display in the tabernacle featured historic photographs, tools used in construction, and a video of historical and modern views of the tabernacle. The celebration ended with the unveiling of artifacts from a time capsule that had recently been discovered in the tower cornerstone.9
The temple design is based on principles of classical architecture with historical references to buildings found throughout the area, including the Wyoming State Capital, the Afton Tabernacle and pioneer-built LDS structures. Hansen Precast of Salt Lake City, Utah, built and installed the exterior concrete panels. Jacobson Construction built the cast-in-place concrete walls. Span Construction provided the structural steel interior skeleton.
The temple height is 39 feet without the spire, 111 feet with the spire and 123 feet with the Angel Moroni. The spire’s shingles are of zinc and are manufactured by Rheinzinc of Duisburg, Germany.
CRSA of Salt Lake City, Utah, designed the glass, and Glass Images of Provo, Utah, fabricated it. Pink, green, blue, brown and yellow glass was used in the fireweed flower design. Fireweed, a tall wildflower, grows abundantly in the Wyoming mountains. The glass design gives the appearance of a wood lattice upon which the flowers are growing. Metal spandrel panels, manufactured by Pohl Metal Products of Oakdale, California, seen between the upper and lower level windows, mimic the lattice pattern of the glass. Paint color on the metal panels, front door and window frames is Moca Chino, manufactured by PPG Industries of Ohio.
A grass blend from Sod Solutions of Idaho Falls, Idaho, surrounds the temple with accents of blue and Baker’s spruce, maple, crabapple and linden trees. Dogwood, juniper and mugo pine are found closer to the building. Oregon grape, barberry, roses, spirea, yew and cranberries provide colorful accents between the shrubberies. The planters include tulips, crocus, daffodils, daylilies and daisies. Triple H Landscaping of Afton, Wyoming, provided landscaping services for the temple.
The fence is of bronze enamel steel with buff-colored sandstone accent columns. Manufactured in Oklahoma, it was installed by Western Fence of Salt Lake City, Utah. Walkways around the temple are of concrete. The stone coursing pattern harmonizes with that found in the monument sign of the Afton Tabernacle.
Stone flooring throughout the temple is Sunny Limestone quarried in Palestine, fabricated in China and installed by IMS Masonry of Lindon, Utah. The wool entry rug was designed and manufactured by Tai Ping Carpets based in Hong Kong. Bentley Mills of North Carolina manufactured carpets for the main corridor and instruction room. The wool carpet in the brides’ room was manufactured in China by Rugs International. In its Chinese facility, Nourison produced the floral damask, machine loomed, wool carpet for the celestial and sealing rooms.
A low-contrast range of whites was chosen to reinforce the principle of simplicity. The stencil pattern in the celestial and sealing rooms is derived from Victorian era motifs. CRSA designed the decorative painting, and Iconography of Salt Lake City, Utah, performed the task. Gold accent lines are featured in the celestial, sealing and instruction rooms and on the altars.
A restored, historic window from a Presbyterian church in New York and purchased from a Salt Lake City antique dealer is installed behind the recommend desk.
Holdman Studio of Lehi, Utah, performed the restoration. Two other windows, like the sets found in the Provo City Center and Cedar City Temples, are also featured. In vibrant colors, they depict the Savior knocking on a handle-less door. Some doors within the temple contain art glass which replicates the lattice pattern of the exterior windows.
The baptistry, confirmation room and entry chandeliers were designed by CRSA Architects and patterned after those in the Wyoming State Capital. They harmonize with the bronze door hardware and rails of the baptismal font. Fixtures throughout the temple are from Rejuvenation of Oregon, OCL Lighting of St. Louis, and Swarovski. The Greek key pattern is utilized in many fixtures. Lighting was installed by Nelson Electric of Rigby, Idaho.
Woodwork is an elegant simplification of forms and patterns in the Wyoming State Capital and the Manti Temple, featuring door casings with false transom panels. The millwork was designed by CRSA and installed by Masterpiece Commercial Millwork of Lindon, Utah.
The font railings, designed by CRSA, were fabricated and installed by Sheet Metal Specialties of Salt Lake City, Utah. The newel posts are a derivation of those found in the U.S. Post Office in Evanston, Wyoming.
The interior doors are manufactured from cherry wood with panels exhibiting the influence of doors found in the Wyoming State Capital and the Manti Utah Temple. Door hardware is of cast bronze by Rocky Mountain Hardware of Hailey, Idaho.
Three colors of paint are used in the temple, two, for the walls and one, for the ceilings. Paint is in shades of white with stenciling in the celestial room.
The ceilings are intended to be simple, elegant and bright. Grow Painting of West Jordan, Utah, applied the paint.10
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, "New Temples Announced for France, Africa, Colombia, Utah and Wyoming," 1 Oct. 2011.
- Dahl Erickson, "LDS Church announces future construction of temple in Star Valley," Star Valley Independent 1 Oct. 2011.
- Dahl Erickson, "Star Valley Temple location confirmed," Star Valley Independent 30 Apr. 2012.
- Dahl Erickson, "Star Valley Temple variance approved," Star Valley Independent 10 May 2012.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, "Star Valley Wyoming Temple Site Announced," 25 May 2012.
- Sarah Hale, "Temple plans presented to town," Star Valley Independent 11 Mar. 2015.
- "Ground Broken for Star Valley Wyoming Temple," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, 25 Apr. 2015.
- "First Mormon Temple in Wyoming Is Dedicated," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, 30 Oct. 2016.
- Margaret Tueller, "Star Valley's landmark building has key role in celebration," Church News 29 Sept. 2009.
- "First Mormon Temple in Wyoming Is Dedicated," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, 30 Oct. 2016.