Nauvoo House

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Photo by Kenneth Mays (2017)

The Nauvoo House is a boarding house that Joseph Smith began constructing following a revelation he received on January 19, 1841, to build a house that would be “a delightful habitation for man, and a resting-place for the weary traveler” as well as a home for Joseph Smith and his family.[1]

A corporation was established in February 1841 to oversee the building of the Nauvoo House. The Nauvoo House Association was responsible for managing construction of the Nauvoo House, selling stock to fund its construction, and employing laborers on the project.[2]

In March 1844, Joseph Smith directed that the construction of the Nauvoo House be suspended to concentrate resources on completing the Nauvoo Temple. Construction of the Nauvoo House resumed in April 1845, but ceased in September due to persecution of the Saints. The building was never completed.

After the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, their bodies were secretly buried in the cellar of the uncompleted Nauvoo House to protect them from falling into the hands of the mob. Later they were moved to a resting place near the Mansion House.

The title of the Nauvoo House passed to Emma Smith after Joseph's death. She married Lewis Bidamon in 1847, and he finished part of the building and together they operated it as a boarding house they named the Riverside Mansion, where they began to inhabit in 1871. The cornerstone of the Nauvoo House contained many items that were deposited into it, including the original manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon. Bidamon uncovered the cornerstone and removed the contents including the original manuscript which had suffered extensive damage. Much of the manuscript was thereafter acquired by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Emma spent her final eight years of her life in this home and died in 1879. Bidamon died in the Nauvoo House in 1891.

The property was acquired by the Community of Christ in 1909 and remains in its possession today. The Nauvoo House can be rented out by families or other groups as a place to stay while visiting Nauvoo. It is also part of the Joseph Smith Historic Site guided tour.

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