April, 5, 2013

Buildings in Nauvoo

Nauvoo was a culturally exciting time for the Church. The town was built fairly quickly after the Saints arrived and it soon thrived. Several of the buildings constructed there were of great importance to the Church.

The Red Brick Store had many different roles. It was not only a general store, but it was also the unofficial headquarters of the Church because Joseph Smith owned it and often conducted Church business there. Joseph Smith even had an office on the second floor.[1]  On March 17, 1842, the Relief Society was organized formally by the Prophet in this upper room on the second floor. In addition, the store housed the Young Gentlemen’s and the Young Ladies’ Relief Societies as well as the University of the City of Nauvoo. The Red Brick Store was the center of many social events, lyceums and concerts. It was also where the a few very early endowments and sealings took place before the temple was finished.[2]

The Mansion House was another important building in Nauvoo. It was the home of Joseph and Emma Smith. They moved there in August 1843, and after the 1844 construction of a 22-room-wing, the house was turned into a hotel. The Smiths continued to live there and were the hosts to many fellow Saints and important dignitaries.[3]

Perhaps the most important building in Nauvoo was the temple. The drawings from which the temple was built were based on a vision received by Joseph Smith.[4] In 1841 the Saints began construction of the temple.  Although it was not finished until after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith,  this temple was the first one where ordinances—including eternal marriage and baptisms for the dead—were performed. It was finally dedicated in 1846 just before the Saints moved west, and nearly 6,000 people received their endowments in it.[5]

These buildings, along with many others, became important spaces where the Saints could mingle, be taught, and receive ordinances. All these activities helped to unify the them and helped them progress in their educational pursuits.

[2] Education in Zion gallery text

[4] Education in Zion gallery text