Earlier this month, Church Newsroom announced the transfer of the responsibility and ownership of sacred sites and documents from the Community of Christ to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One of the significant sites transferred was the famous Nauvoo House and its cornerstone in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Joseph Smith received a revelation on January 19, 1841, instructing members of the Church to build two structures in Nauvoo, Illinois: a temple and the Nauvoo House, designed to be a boardinghouse for travelers.

The Nauvoo House Association, established on February 23, 1841, helped oversee the construction of the building. Less than six months later, the cornerstone was laid. This included the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon. This was one of the many important additional documents the Church received in the recent transaction.

Due to persecution after the death of the Prophet, the saints were forced to abandon the unfinished Nauvoo House

Due to persecution after the death of the Prophet, the saints were forced to abandon the unfinished Nauvoo House Photo credit: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Construction of the boarding house was halted in 1844 to devote more time and resources to building the Nauvoo Temple. Construction was attempted again in 1845 but was halted due to persecution of the Saints in Nauvoo after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum.

Joseph and Hyrum’s bodies were secretly buried in the basement of the uncompleted Nauvoo House to protect the bodies from the mob threatening to desecrate their graves. The bodies remained in the basement of the north wing of the Nauvoo House until fall of 1844, when they were removed at the request of Joseph’s wife Emma Smith.

With the death of the Prophet, the title of the Nauvoo House passed to his widow, Emma Smith. In the 1870s, after Emma married her new husband, Lewis Bidamon, the unfinished portion of the house was used to construct the Riverside Mansion. The Riverside Mansion served as the home where both Bidamon and Emma lived until their deaths.

The property was acquired by the Community of Christ in 1909 until its recent transaction with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the ownership of the Nauvoo House was under the Community of Christ’s care, this building served as a hotel for guests visiting Nauvoo.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to reopen the newly acquired Nauvoo House, along with many other sites, on March 25, for public tours at no charge.