Prior to the construction of the Mesa Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, church members wishing to marry in a temple were required to make the grueling journey on the "Honeymoon Trail." The trail was named "Honeymoon" because, after marrying civilly in Mesa, the couple then spent their honeymoon traversing old wagon trails across northern Arizona, crossing the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry, and north though the "Arizona strip. Alternatively,they traveled via railroad to California, and then north, to St. George, Utah, the site of the nearest temple, to be "sealed" together in a temple ordinance. Members of the Church believe that in the temple, they are married not just until death but for all eternity.
Because of the distance and great effort required to reach the temple, especially in Mesa's earliest days before the advent of automobiles and graded roads, church leaders in Mesa began almost immediately to petition Church leadership in Salt Lake City to construct a temple in Mesa. Finally, in 1920, church president Heber J. Grant announced the construction of a temple in Mesa. The Mesa temple was the Church's ninth temple and Arizona's first (it has since been joined by temples in Snowflake, the Gila Valley, Gilbert, Phoenix, and Tucson). The temple was completed in 1927 at the cost of $800,000. After significant expansion and remodeling, the temple was rededicated in 1975 by then-president, and Arizona native, Spencer W. Kimball.
The temple was again closed for a major renovation in 2018 and is scheduled to reopen in 2020.
The temple's design was meant to reflect the Temple of Herod and ancient religious structures found on the American continent. The temple is only one of three built by the Church that does not have a spire topped by an angel.
Reflecting the pioneer heritage of the LDS community in Mesa, the eight friezes on the corners of the temple's roof depict various peoples gathering of Israel, or into the Lord's Church—from natives of the British Isles, and other various European nations, to the Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. For more detailed information, see the entry "Mesa Arizona Temple Friezes."