Joseph Smith Homestead

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Photo by Kenneth Mays (2013)

After escaping from Missouri in April 1839, Joseph and Emma Smith moved to the Joseph Smith Homestead, an existing log house on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River at Commerce, Illinois. Here he was reunited with the Saints. They drained the swampy town and renamed it Nauvoo. It is also known as the Smith Family Homestead.

The Homestead not only served as a home for Joseph and Emma, it also served as headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The home is where the Lord revealed to Joseph that the Saints should build a temple in Nauvoo.

Sections 124, 125, and 127 of the Doctrine and Covenants were received by revelation at the Homestead.

Joseph enlarged the home in 1840 by adding a large room for meals and other gatherings, and at the end of August 1843, the family moved across the street to the newly completed Mansion House.

Joseph and Emma's other two residences were the Mansion House and the Nauvoo House. The Mansion House also served as a guest house. After the martyrdom of the Joseph and his brother Hyrum, their bodies were displayed for viewing in the Mansion House.

The Nauvoo House was intended as a boarding house and construction began in 1841. The Nauvoo House was never completed and after the martyrdom of Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith, their bodies were secretly buried in the cellar of the uncompleted Nauvoo House. Emma lived there later with her second husband Lewis Bidamon.[1]

In 1858, Joseph Smith III returned to his family's homestead and completed a final addition for his own family.

The present complex includes two section of the home added to the original 16x18 two-story house.[2] The original home is left in log; the additions have been updated to white siding as it was believed white would have been more historically accurate.[3]

The graves of Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith are situated in the Smith Family Cemetery immediately west of the Homestead.

The Homestead is owned by the Community of Christ. It is part of the Nauvoo Historic District and the Community of Christ has designated the property of Joseph and Emma’s homes as the Joseph Smith Historic Site. Original structures on the site include Joseph and Emma Smith's Homestead and Mansion House, the Nauvoo House, as well as homes of Sidney Rigdon, William Marks, Jonathon Wright, Aaron Johnson, and Hiram Clark. Reconstructions on the property include the Red Brick Store and the Homestead summer kitchen.

Visitors can see the inside of the homestead with a tour through the Community of Christ, who charges a small preservation fee.

External Sources