For three months, the wooden temple on Sample Road in Coral Springs has served as a place of reflection and quiet. Visitors have written on the intricate wooden walls, left behind letters and flowers, and held onto one another as they read the names of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
This weekend, the temple—less than 10 minutes from the high school—will be ceremoniously burned.
Artist David Best, known for his structures made of recycled wood at the Burning Man musical festival, has created temporary, non-denominational temples around the United States and beyond in communities that have experienced tragedy and conflict. They are then burned, usually after about two weeks.
However, the Temple of Time structure has been up since Feb. 14, the one-year anniversary of the shooting in Parkland, to allow for as many visitors to come as possible.
“We’ve had thousands of visitors come and visit the temple not only locally but also from out of town,” says Lynne Martzall, the media relations coordinator for the City of Coral Springs. “Everybody who has come into the temple remarked at just how powerful all the images are, all the letters of hope, all the letters of sadness, all the notes and messages.”
Visitors have come to reflect and write messages on the structure—markers and tissue boxes are left out. In the middle of the temple is a makeshift shrine with dried flowers, painted stones, police department badges, teddy bears, and other mementos.
Until this weekend’s burning, the community can visit the temple from 7 a.m. to dusk.
The Temple of Time was funded by the Bloomberg Public Art Challenge for the winning series “Inspiring Community Healing After Gun Violence: The Power of Art.” The grant covers five public art installations in Coral Springs and Parkland—the four others are getting started, including “Scrollathon,” a series of intricately rolled pieces of paper to create artwork.
Best and his “Temple Crew” of 24 artists and builders started working on the project in January, and volunteers from the community also were part of building the temple. The burning is done to represent “releasing what has been left inside the temple.”
“It’s very powerful,” Martzall says of the display. “It shows the magnitude of sadness and grief and also inspires hope.”
The ceremonial burn will be Sunday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at the former Coral Springs City Hall site, 9551 W. Sample Road in Coral Springs. Sample Road will be closed in both directions from University Drive to Coral Hills Drive from 5 to 10 p.m. The burn will be streamed live on the city’s website and on Facebook.
The event is free and open to the public.