Mormon leaders announced details Thursday about the proposed temple in Newport Beach, saying it would be modest in size and reflect 1920s California architecture.
The temple would be on seven acres across Prairie Road from the church’s red-brick meeting house at Bonita Canyon Drive and Prairie.
For Mormons, regular worship services are held in meeting houses. The temple, which is seen as a bridge between heaven and Earth, is reserved for sacred ceremonies, including baptisms and weddings. Orange County’s 45,000 Mormons now have to drive to temples in Los Angeles or San Diego for holy ceremonies.
California has four temples, with three more, including the one in Newport Beach, on the drawing board.
The temple’s cost still hasn’t been determined, said officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mormon leaders said they will soon meet with residents who live near the proposed temple, which needs city approval. They hope to break ground by year’s end.
The proposed one-story building at Bonita Canyon Drive and Prairie Road reflects the new generation of Mormon temples that are significantly smaller than their predecessors. For example, the $24-million San Diego temple completed in 1994 is more than 80,000 square feet.
At a far more modest 17,500 square feet, the Newport Beach temple would be two-thirds the size of the neighboring Mormon meeting house, which is 28,500 square feet. The temple is planned to be the same height as the meeting house, 35 feet, but church officials said the light-colored temple will stand out against the meeting house’s dark brick exterior.
“The Irvine Co. [developer of homes in the area] is encouraging us to match and blend in, but it’s important for us to stand out as light,” said Joseph I. Bentley, a local church spokesman.
By favoring smaller buildings, the church has been able to build more than 90 temples in the last decade for its estimated 11 million members. Before the building spree, the church had only 15 temples worldwide.
“The announcement of the [Newport Beach] temple was the biggest thing to [Orange County Mormons] in the history of California,” Bentley said. “The most sacred things on Earth will happen there.”