|Mesa Mormon Temple, 1937 (photo by Grant William Magleby)|
|Mesa Mormon Temple, April 2011 (photo by Devon Veater)|
|Mormon Easter Pageant sign, April 2011 (photo by Devon Veater)|
101 S. Lesueur, Mesa, AZ 85204
The Mesa Mormon Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is located on Main Street just west of Mesa Drive in downtown Mesa. The large unique structure, patterned after King Solomon’s temple, was finished in 1927 and serves as a place of worship for the Phoenix area Mormons. It stands as a landmark in the middle of the Historic Temple District of Mesa, which was designated in 2001. It is an area that developed between 1910 to 1949 by Mormons that were sent to the area by the church leader, Brigham Young, who resided in Salt Lake City. The neighborhoods within the district still hold a small town feel with its mixture of architectural design. There are ranch style houses along with bungalow, period revival, and adobe.
Surrounding the Temple and the Temple Historic District lies large commercial areas. Many of the businesses cater to the large Hispanic population that now inhabit this downtown Mesa area. Many of the houses that surround the temple have lost many of the original Mormon families as they have moved into suburban neighborhoods further from the downtown commercial areas. This white flight has caused land values to fall, creating opportunity for Mexican immigrants to move in (Crowder, 2000). Interestingly, downtown Mesa may have fallen victim to inner city pollution and government apathy, as is the case with many other large cities that experienced white flight that became lower class slums (Frey, 1979). However, the Historic Temple District remains intact. It continues to support current commercial interests, keeping the area desirable. A reason for this is that the extremely active and well attended Mormon Temple has remained, acting as a key tenant, creating a continued interest in the area.
Since the Mesa Mormon Temple is the only one in the Phoenix area, it is a very active place of worship. The predominantly white Mormon population (86%) flood the parking lots and surrounding neighborhood streets on a regular basis. This is especially true during the Christmas and Easter seasons when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints hold special programs on the temple grounds. During the Christmas season, millions of Christmas lights cover the temple’s gardens, becoming the largest private Christmas display in the state. During this time, crowds stroll along the grounds, enjoying the sites along with the sounds of different performing choral groups. Large amounts of Mexican American families stroll through the area and talk in English as well as Spanish to Mormon missionaries who were taught in the missionary training center located in Provo, Utah. During the Easter season, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints holds the annual Easter Pageant. It has become the largest annual outdoor Easter pageant in the world. There are several evening performances with two of them given completely in Spanish. Inside the temple visitors center many of the recorded messages are given in English and Spanish. There are more than 80,000 Hispanics in the city of Mesa with many of them still speaking Spanish only, although studies show that the third generation of Mexican immigrants will mostly only speak English (Alba, 2004). There is an acceptance of the Mexican American culture in and around the Mormon Temple.
- Devon Veater, Seth Fawcett, and Travis Simpson
Alba, Richard. (2004, November 1). Language Assimilation Today: Bilingualism Persists More Than in the Past, But English Still Dominates. Working Papers. Working Papers, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies. UC San Diego.
Campbell, Joel. (2009, July 29). Mormon Media Observer: 10 Mormon things. Mormon Times.
Retrieved from http://www.mormontimes.com/article/4751/Mormon-Media-Observer-10- Mormon-things
Crowder, K. (2000, June). The Racial Context of White Mobility: An Individual-Level Assessment of the White Flight Hypothesis. Social Science Research, 29, 223-257.
Frey, William H. (1979, June). Central City White Flight: Racial and Nonracial Causes.
American Sociological Review. 44(3), 425-438.
Mesa, Az: The Official Website of the City of Mesa, AZ. (2011). Temple Historic District [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.mesaaz.gov/planning/TempleHistoric%20District.aspx
U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). [Data file]. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04/0446000.html