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
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.