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For week ended November 14, 1999 Posted 14 Nov 1999

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Landmark to most, temple is sanctuary for area's Mormons

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Landmark to most, temple is sanctuary for area's Mormons
(Northern) VA Journal 8Nov99 D1
By Donita Painter and Pete Pichaske: Journal staff writers

The 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Washington D.C. Temple is approaching on November 19th, and the Washington D.C. area Journal suburban papers have investigated the effect that the building has had on both members and non-members in the area. In the past 25 years, the first LDS temple in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River has become an area landmark, continually referred to on traffic reports and in news reports.

A ceremony celebrating the building's 25th anniversary was held last month at the temple visitor's center, attended by 600 members, and featuring the Mormon Choir of Washington D.C.

As a landmark, the building has gained prominence for its position on Washington's Beltway, which circles three-quarters of the way around the temple, yielding an imposing view of the building. The temple is also located on the end of one of the beltway's most dangerous stretches, which often yields traffic backups and makes the building a clear reference for traffic reports. "If you listen to the traffic news, it's kind of like a major intersection," said Visitor's Center director David Salisbury.

The temple has also grown on the city, gaining respect and prominence. Salisbury says that a prominent local architectural critic panned the temple in print when it opened in 1974, only to eat his words 20 years later, acknowledging the building as an institution. "I think it's gained a permanence," says Salisbury.

Of course, with that prominence came some less-welcome attention, including graffiti scrawled on a bridge over the Beltway as commuters approached the temple. In keeping with the local perception that the building came right out of the "Wizard of Oz," the graffitist wrote "Surrender, Dorothy."

After discussing the purpose of the temple and its inaccesibility to non-members, the article addresses what it means to local members and its impressive size and presence. Since opening, the temple has witnessed 38,520 marriages and sealings. Its exterior has also gained notariety, gaining three landscaping awards, according to Jane Dumont, public information director for the temple visitors center.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information