The History of the Gilbert Arizona Temple

The History of the Gilbert Arizona Temple

(Feature photo can be found here – Gilbert Temple Summer Peace)

In 1847, after a terribly strenuous 1,300-mile journey across the country, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived at and settled in the Salt Lake Valley. The President of The Church at the time, Brigham Young, knew that expanding outside of the Utah Territory would be absolutely necessary to the grown and colonizing of the West. However, as would be expected, sending “pioneers” to expand farther past Utah’s initial borders only took them into the forsaken lands of the American Southwest. It was at this time that one of Brigham Young’s counselors, George Q. Cannon, said “Good countries are not for us. The worst places in the land we can probably get, and we must develop them. If there be deserts in Arizona, thank God for the deserts.”

Some of the first attempts to inhabit the deserts of Arizona were made in the 1860s and 1870s by continuing pioneers from The Church. Despite difficult terrain and climate, Church members had proven themselves to be successful pioneers and colonizers, which is evidenced by their communities in Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. Truth be told – these early settlers had to be resourceful – their very lives depended on it. Yet despite numerous hardships, their determination and hard work greatly contributed to laying the foundation for the expansive cities that make up the Phoenix area.

In 1902, a railway depot was established and created the town of Gilbert, which was named after the landowner who permitted the railroad to cross his property. His name was Gilbert, and therefore the train stop was also called “Gilbert.” At that time, members of the Church who lived in Gilbert attended the congregations that were held in Mesa and Chandler. But eventually their own Sunday services were organized, which were held in the local schoolhouse. Then in February of 1918, an official Gilbert congregation was organized, and the first chapel in the town was finished the next year.

After significant growth, the Gilbert Arizona Stake was organized on August 24, 1975. And the Gilbert area has seen even more tremendous growth since then. There are now 25 stakes in Gilbert. Then in April of 2008, in order to accommodate the continued growth and increasing population of Mormons in the Gilbert area, President Thomas S. Monson announced the plans to build a fourth temple in Arizona. It would follow the Mesa, Snowflake, and Gila Valley temples. Two years after the Gilbert Arizona Temple was announced, ground was broken and construction began in November of 2010.

The Gilbert Temple was the largest temple that the Church had constructed in 17 years, at 85,000 square feet. It is one of the tallest buildings in the entire East Valley, and the tallest building in Gilbert. The stunning exterior features beautifully-crafted art glass windows and an incredibly detailed ivory-colored high-quality concrete and stone accentuated with fine rustication. Inside this beautiful temple one will also noticed the repeated artistic motif of the agave plant, which is native to the vast deserts of the Southwest.

Quick Facts

  • 407,020 guests toured the Gilbert Temple during its moth-long public open house.
  • The Gilbert Arizona Temple was dedicated on March 2, 2014 by Thomas S. Monson (read by Henry B. Eyring).
  • At the request of President Thomas S. Monson, the first dedicatory session was offered by President Henry B. Eyring, then first counselor in the First Presidency. President Monson still presided at the dedication.
  • It is the 142nd operating temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Our Gilbert Temple pictures are among the best that you’ll find!
The History of the Gilbert Arizona Temple