Book of Mormon Publication Site, Palmyra, New York

Book of Mormon Publication Site, Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Book of Mormon Publication Site, Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Five editions of the Book of Mormon were published during the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The first of those was printed and bound at the press of Egbert B. Grandin in Palmyra, New York. Five thousand copies were printed in that first edition for a cost of $3000, financed by Martin Harris.

In the fall 1828, Grandin rented a three-story bay in Thayre and Grandin’s Brick Row in Palmyra. Grandin’s space was one of four bays in the 85-foot building complex. The address of Grandin’s bookstore and printing shop was 219 East Main Street in Palmyra. It is located on the north side of Main Street between William and Market streets.

Retail book store in the Grandin shop, Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Retail book store in the Grandin shop, Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

This interior view shows the retail book store on the street level of the complex. The Prophet Joseph Smith purchased a King James Bible here for $3.75. That book was later used in producing the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

The printing press used to print the pages of the Book of Mormon was located on the third floor of Grandin’s shop. Presently, a replica of the press is on display in that room. The actual Smith single lever press used is in Salt Lake City.

Replica Smith Acorn Press on the third floor of the Grandin shop in Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Replica Smith Acorn Press on the third floor of the Grandin building. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

The chief compositor or typesetter was John H. Gilbert, the man from whom Grandin bought his publishing business. Gilbert lived sixty-five years after the Book of Mormon was first published in 1830. Toward the end of his life he recounted some of his memories of the days when he and others were heavily involved in the process of setting the type for the nearly 600-page volume. John Gilbert never joined the Church, but by the time he passed away in 1895, Church membership had grown to over 230,000, anchored on the Book of Mormon that Gilbert helped bring to the world.

Book of Mormon Publication Site before a historical restoration. Photo (1985) by Kenneth Mays.
Grandin Building before its 1998 historical restoration. Photo (1985) by Kenneth Mays.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the Grandin Building in 1978. It was opened to the public several years later. A more complete restoration of the building was undertaken in 1998. It was then dedicated as the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site on March 26, 1998 by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Missionaries provide excellent free tours of all three levels of the building including the book store, printing room and bindery.

The Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site is located at 219 East Main Street in Palmyra, New York. From I-90, take the Palmyra/Manchester exit (43). Go north on route 21 to where it intersects with route 31. Turn right on Main Street and go two blocks. The sight will be on the north (left) side of the road.

Admission is free.

Ownership Status

The Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site is a Church Historic Site owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visitors are welcome during the posted hours of operation. Admission is free.

Palmyra: LDS Church Link

Photos

Book of Mormon Publication Site, Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Book of Mormon Publication Site, Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Second floor of the Grandin Building where the binding of the pages of the Book of Mormon was done.
Second floor of the Grandin Building where the binding of the pages of the Book of Mormon was done.
Third floor of the Grandin Building showing how the type was utilized in the printing process. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Third floor of the Grandin Building showing how the type was utilized in the printing process. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Book of Mormon Publication Site, Palmyra, NY. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Book of Mormon Publication Site, Palmyra, NY after its 1998 restoration. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Sources

Larry C. Porter, in LaMar C. Berrett, ed., Sacred Places, Vol. 2, New York and Pennsylvania, 168-174.

Richard E. Turley Jr., William W. Slaughter, How We Got the Book of Mormon, 26-38.

Terryl L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon, 55-61.

Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 80-83.

Matthew B. Brown, Plates of Gold, 123-134.

Ivan J. Berrett, Joseph Smith and the Restoration, 114-117.