Jacob Alley is excited not to have to go to Washington, D.C. anymore.
Sure, he might still make the occasional trip to see the national landmarks. But he won’t have to keep making the two-hour drive to visit one of his church’s holiest buildings.
Alley and dozens of others were on hand Wednesday night as officials unveiled renderings for Virginia’s first temple for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The temple is slated to be built at 10915 Staples Mill Road in Glen Allen. The closest temple to Richmond is currently in Washington.
“It’ll be close to home,” said Alley, 18, of the new temple. “It looks amazing.”
The new 36,000-square-foot, two-story temple and a 16,000-square-foot meetinghouse is planned to be the state’s first for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Salt Lake City.
Once complete, the temple will serve members of the church in Virginia, eastern West Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. There are about 100,000 members of the church in Virginia, according to the church’s website.
Church President Russell Nelson initially announced plans for the temple in April 2018, and this March formal plans were submitted to the county.
The renderings unveiled Wednesday were met with positive reaction from the church community, with many taking their own pictures to show others.
“Many hours of work and planning have gone into the design for this beautiful temple,” said Brent Roberts, managing director of the church’s special projects department. “We are pleased to share these renderings with church and community members so they can look forward to the completion of this sacred structure and anticipate the blessings it will bring to this area.”
The renderings include a large steeple, columns in the front and a Jeffersonian-type dome that resembles Monticello. The steeple is slated to be capped by a statue of the angel Moroni, an important religious figure and symbol of the church.
Architect Bill Williams said the Virginia aspects of the temple, including interlocking diamond chains and accents of the flowering dogwood, were not by accident.
“We wanted to design it so it feels like Virginia,” he said.
Besides the temple and meetinghouse, a maintenance building and 240 parking spaces also are planned.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — long known as Mormons before the church recently started moving away from the name — consider temples to be the most sacred places in the world. They are open throughout the week and closed on Sundays.
According to ChurchofJesusChrist Temples.org, a website that follows temple construction, there are 209 temples total and 16 under construction. The church is hoping to break ground on the temple in spring 2020. Construction is expected to take two to three years.