Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mesa Mormon Temple

Mesa Mormon Temple. Source: Jake Powell
The temple is located at 101 S. LeSueur in Mesa, AZ 85204. You can reach it by taking the US-60 to Mesa Drive, heading North on Mesa Drive until Main Street, turn right on Main Street, and then it is less than a quarter of a mile down Main Street on the right-hand side of the road. 

This site is of great significance to the large Mormon population in Arizona due to its fame and also its importance of what it signifies in the Mormon faith. The city of Mesa, Arizona was founded by Mormon settlers in the 1800s, and the Mormon Temple was constructed just east of the original settlement location. At the time of Mesa’s settlement, there was nothing here at this location; it was just flat, unsettled land. Upon settlement in the late 1800s, Mormon settlers often traveled back to Utah for their Temple services. Plans shortly became drawn up as this small town grew with the Mormon population making up the majority. In 1927 the Temple was officially completed and dedicated, costing more than $800,000 and attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

White privilege is the shift from looking for intention to analyzing effect. In that effect, white privilege studies the privileges and benefits that accrue to white people by virtue of their whiteness (Pullido, 13). With around 77% of Mesa’s citizens being white, and a large portion of them being of the Mormon faith, this temple represents white privilege in a location otherwise downtrodden. The homes and space around the Temple are part of the historic district of down town Mesa, Arizona. There are constant initiatives to restore or uphold the “neighborhood beauty” of this area pushed by the Mormon Church for motives only to do with the perception of the Temple.

Environmental racism is also at play in this location. There is a large Hispanic community in Mesa, Arizona as well that occupy the poorer communities. Even the Hispanics in the Mormon Church believe that the Church is still somewhat racist due to its “white, republican” roots (Adams, 19). There are Mormon leaders in Arizona today that paint different pictures of the Church’s racism. Russell Pearce and Jerry Lewis are popular currently for the recall election of Pearce due to his racist tendencies. Pearce comes from a somewhat white supremacist background while Lewis portrays the Church’s value of equality. The Mormon Temple, through an environmental racism scope, shows the difference in spaces between those most benefitted from white privilege and those least benefitted.

- Jake Powell, Bill Harden, and Allie Desrochers


Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California
Laura Pulido
Annals of the Association of American Geographers , Vol. 90, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 12-40
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of American Geographers
Article Stable URL:

Adams, Jon, Book of Mormon Historicity: Popular LDS Beliefs and Their Implications, 12 May 2010,

American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate, byPete Simi, Robert Futrell . Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010

Beard, B. (2000, May 03). Mormon temple area up for historical status. Arizona Republic, pp. 1-1.
Retrieved from

Walsh, J. (2011, Jun 25). Mormon leaders push light rail toward temple. Arizona Republic, pp. 9-9. Retrieved from

Mormons end temple rites. (1927, Oct 30). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), pp. 10-10. Retrieved from

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