The Oakland Temple is the second temple built in California, the Los Angeles Temple was the first. The Oakland Temple was announced on 23 January 1961.
The temple is 95,000 square feet and made out of reinforced concrete faced with white granite from Raymond, California.
In 1924, thirty-seven years before the announcement of the Oakland Temple, Elder George Albert Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, visited the San Francisco Bay area and sat on the roof of a terrace with a local Church leader, W. Arid MacDonald. While the two were sitting together Elder Smith stopped talking and for several minutes gazed intently toward the hills above Oakland. He then said “Brother MacDonald, I can almost see in vision a white temple of the Lord high upon those hills, an ensign to all the world travelers as they sail through the Golden Gate into this wonderful harbor. . . A great white temple of the Lord will grace those hills a glorious ensign to the nations, to welcome our Fathers children as they visit this great city.”
The groundbreaking was done on May 26, 1962 by David O. McKay. David O. McKay also dedicated the Oakland Temple on November 17-19, 1964.
In the April 1943 General Conference President Heber J. Grant announced the purchase of the site for the Oakland California Temple he said: "I am happy to tell you that we have purchased in the Oakland area another temple site. The negotiations have been finally concluded and the title has passed. The site is located on the lower foothills of East Oakland on a rounded hill overlooking San Francisco Bay. We shall in due course build there a splendid temple."
The Oakland California Temple was the first temple built with five spires, taking inspiration from sacred sites in Asia to reflect the diversity of Bay Area residents.
The Oakland Temple has two sculptured granite panels on the temples north and south facades. They are both 35 foot panels depicting Christ. On the North side the sculpted rock depicts Jesus teaching in the Holy Land and on the South side it is a depiction of Christ teaching the Nephites. Below the sculpture on the north side is a amazing waterfall that drops into an inner courtyard.
Brigham Young prophesied that "in process of time the shores of the Pacific may be overlooked from the temple of the Lord." The Oakland California Temple is a fulfillment of that prophecy!
When the Oakland Temple was being dedicated it was right after the prophet David O. McKay had suffered a stroke. Nobody thought he would be able to get to the dedication. It was very difficult for the prophet to even speak or stand. His son said this of the experience: “His fluency of speech was gone. . . He hated to talk because nearly always we could not understand him the first time and had to ask him to repeat what he had said.” When the time came to dedicate the Oakland Temple the prophet got up to the podium, grasped the podium tightly and began to speak clearly and easily to the congregation. David O. McKay’s son said “[My wife] with tears running down her cheeks, whispered ‘Lawrence, we are witnessing a miracle.’ I nodded in agreement. Father finished his talk and still standing, dedicated the building.”(How awesome is that?!)
During the California Energy crisis the Temple turned down and off their exterior lights to be in compliance with the State regulations, in 1985-1990, but the Temple received frantic calls from air traffic control asking the Church to turn the lights back on because the Temple is a marker to guide pilots to the airport.
The Oakland Temple has been protected through major natural disasters. The worst California earthquake on Oct. 17, 1989 caused major damage throughout the whole area but the Oakland Temple escaped with only a few minor cracks.
Wildfires in the area devastated the mountain range behind the temple, but they got it all under control before it reached the temple!
”Temples of the New Millennium” by Chad S. Hawkins p.28-29