Temple Hill’s Hidden Roof Gardens
This article was contributed by a local member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The views expressed may not represent the views and positions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the Church's official site, visit churchofjesuschrist.org.
When the acacia trees along CA Highway 13 flourish in yellow blossoms, it’s a good time to take the Joaquin Miller exit to see the blooming of thousands of flowers in the gardens at the Oakland, California Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Walking past the fountains and the array of hundreds of tulips, you can enter the front gates of the temple where you will pass the peaceful reflection pool. If you go to the back and take the steps to the right you will enter the roof gardens.
The roof garden is a place to look out over the bay, contemplate, and feel peace. In the roof gardens you can hear the whisper of wind from the tops of trees. On a clear day, you can sit quietly on the benches and look out at the five bridges of the bay. To the west you can see Oakland, the Oakland Bay Bridge, San Francisco, and the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re lucky, you may see huge cargo ships from all over the world waiting in the bay to be unloaded. After sunset, you can watch the lights illuminate the pristinely white Bay Bridge.
Children are also welcome to see the views from the temple. After all, families are what the temple is all about. In the temple, families are joined for eternity. A marriage performed in the temple is a marriage not only until death parts us from loved ones, but one that will unite us eternally with our spouse and children.
The roof gardens offer a 360-degree view—to the west, the bay; to the east, the hills. On the north and south sides of the temple you can see panels depicting Christ teaching the people. Each panel weighs several tons. On the north side is Christ with the people of Jerusalem, on the south side is Christ after His resurrection teaching His “other sheep”—the people in the Americas as described in the Book of Mormon.
During construction of the temple, the workers who had to lift and attach the panels to the temple said they would have to drill holes in them in order raise and place them, but the artist who made the panels said he would not allow holes to be drilled into them. Glen Nielsen, the contractor for the granite, prayed many times to know how to place the panels without damaging them. One Sunday, just before the panels had to be placed, Nielsen sat in his daughter’s Sunday School class, and suddenly saw in his mind every detail of how the panels could be placed without damaging them. He said, “It was as clear to me as if I looked at someone face to face.” The granite was attached and the temple was soon completed.
For 56 years since the temple was constructed, the panels, gardens, fountains, and pools offer beauty and peace to all who visit.
Virtual tours of the temple grounds
Tours are available Mondays 6:00–8:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday 1:00–8:00 p.m. Tours are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin. Schedule tours at templehill.org.
4766 Lincoln Ave, Oakland, CA 94602 (510) 328-0044
Grounds open Monday–Sunday: 7:00 a.m.–8:30 p.m.
Free parking. No bathrooms available. Masks and social distancing required.