A temple that was built to help people heal after the Parkland school shooting goes up in flames

Crowds watch as a temporary art installation burns Sunday in Coral Springs, Florida.

Coral Springs, Florida (CNN)A 43-foot plywood temple has served as a place for healing for the past three months since the first anniversary of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

On Sunday night, hundreds gathered to watch it burn.
Artist David Best built the Temple of Time in an empty lot just minutes away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people on February 14, 2018.
    Since its inception, the goal was to burn the temple, those involved said -- not as an act of destruction but as a way of bringing people together to heal.
    "I urge you all to let go of something," Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook said. "And like the smoke of the temple, please release it into the night sky."
    Coral Springs Fire Department firefighters spray water as the Temple of Time burns.

    What the temple stood for

    Sunday's event drew large crowds to the former site of Coral Springs' city hall, where the temple was built.
    People sat in lawn chairs waiting for the ceremony to begin. Some climbed on trees to catch an unobstructed view above the crowd. Others filled the street outside the lot as firefighters filled the temple with hay in preparation for the burn.
    The construction of the Temple of Time was completed in February, 2019, in Coral Springs, Florida.
    The Temple of Time, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is among five large-scale art installations being displayed in Coral Springs and Parkland over two years. The projects are an extension of an art therapy program that has turned the Coral Springs Museum of Art into a space that has helped children and educators cope since the shooting.
    Best also built two of the four benches surrounding the temple. They will be given to the families of victims Nicholas Dworet and Helena Ramsay. The others will be on display in Coral Springs and Parkland, city officials said.
    Best has built similar wooden temples at the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.
    He built the secular structure in Coral Springs to give people a place to address their pain and grief, he said. Like his past pieces, he created it with the intention of eventually burning it.
    "It's about healing and forgiveness," Best said.
    With the help of the community, Best and his team worked around the clock for two weeks to finish the temple on time for the first anniversary of the shooting. Since then, many have visited to inscribe messages on the temple walls and pay tribute to the victims.
    "To those that cannot fight beside us, we will demolish this epidemic of hate and will harness your beautiful and strong energy to do so. To never be forgotten is to live forever. Love, MSD Class of 2013," a note reads.
    Matthew Aguilar, a graduating senior at Stoneman Douglas, walked through the temple one last time last week to write a note on a small piece of wood. He left it among the hundreds of handwritten notes, photos, teddy bears and flowers draping over the structure.
    "Love is what matters. It's what is important. And it's all that we need. Please share love," he wrote.
    Stoneman Douglas senior Matthew Aguilar visited the Temple of Time several times.