Plans replaced by the Apia Samoa Temple
Ordinance Rooms: One ordinance room and four sealing.
Total Floor Area: 20,000 square feet.
Suspended: 2 April 1980
Steady growth of Church membership in the Pacific islands prompted the 1977 First Presidency announcement of a regional temple to serve the 50,000 saints scattered across the islands of Samoa, Tonga, French Polynesia (Tahiti), and Fiji. At the time, members had to cross the Pacific Ocean for hundreds of miles to attend services in the Hamilton New Zealand Temple. The Tahitian saints, who lived the farthest from the temple, devotedly traveled 2,500 miles to receive temple blessings.
Samoa itself is divided into the independent nation of Samoa and the United States territory of American Samoa. At the time, the population was about 180,000 in Samoa and about 30,000 in American Samoa where the $1.5 million temple would be constructed. A groundbreaking ceremony was anticipated to take place in late 1978 with completion of the temple in 1980.1
The specific site chosen for the Samoa Temple was in Malaeimi Valley on Tutila Island near the village of Pago Pago, American Samoa, adjacent to a newly completed stake center. Its location on a bus-serviced road from the international airport made it easily accessible to the many members who would be traveling to the temple by air. The picturesque setting at the base of a lush natural hill—visible from the ocean—is covered with beautiful foliage and palm trees.
Church architect Emil B. Fetzer said, "We expect [the temple] to be one of the finest, if not the finest, building on the island as far as workmanship, design and materials are concerned." Plans called for a 20,000-square-foot temple, which would house a baptistry, a 100-seat ordinance room, four sealing rooms, and a circular Celestial Room featuring stained glass (visible from the front of the temple) and crowned by a round roof and single spire. The grounds would be extensively landscaped and feature a water fountain and reflecting pool.2
On April 2, 1980, a landmark announcement by the First Presidency of plans for seven new temples for seven different nations were accompanied by a location and design change for the Samoa Temple. At a press conference, President Spencer W. Kimball said, "The Pago Pago location was selected on the basis of convenience for air travelers from other islands. Since there will be two other temples in the South Pacific islands, the Samoa site was altered to be more convenient to Samoan members. Its design will also conform to those included in this announcement." With additional annoucements for Nuku'alofa, Tonga and Papeete, Tahiti, the location of the Samoa Temple was moved from Pago Pago, American Samoa, to Apia, Samoa. The design and size were altered to conform to a new 12,500-square-foot standard design. The location change placed the temple on the island where the vast majority of Samoan members reside.3
1. "First Presidency Announces?New Temple in Samoa," Ensign Dec. 1977: 66–77.
2. "Peaceful island setting to surround unique new temple," Church News 3 Jun. 1978: 4.
3. John L. Hart, "7 new temples to be erected," Church News 5 Apr. 1980: 3.