Towering spires may soon be built in Philadelphia. City planners want to see more design details.
City Council could soon bend the downtown zoning ordinance to allow the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – also known as the Mormons – to build a 195-foot high building at 17th and Vine Streets.
According to the church, there are about 35,000 Mormons in Southeast Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, and all of them worship in meeting houses that are reasonably close to home. A temple is different – it’s used for specific and often secretive rituals: such as “sealing”, wherein a man and a woman are spiritually linked for eternity.
Temples in other cities have been described as appearing to be castles or fortresses. The design of a Philadelphia temple has not been finished, but the regional church authority – Robert B Smith – says he has seen some preliminary drawings.
“It will have two buildings, one will be the temple – approximately 45,000 sq ft, and ancillary building, which will house weekly meeting chapels and support offices.”
Some city planners look forward to a new building near Logan Square, saying temples tend to be striking and well-maintained. However, they think the city planning commission should have a say in granting the variance.