Joseph Smith Homestead, Nauvoo, Illinois

Joseph Smith Homestead. Photo (2013) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead. Photo (2013) by Kenneth Mays.

When Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints first moved into the region now known as Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois (1839), it was mostly swampland with only a few standing homes and structures. One of those homes became the residence of the Prophet Joseph and his family. The family lived there until the last ten months of Joseph’s life. Known as the Joseph Smith Homestead, the dwelling at that time was only the log portion of the present complex, a 16X18 two-story house. The sided sections of the home were added later. Sickness was so prevalent in Nauvoo that, at times, Joseph and Emma gave up their room so that those who were seriously ill could use it.

Joseph Smith Homestead showing summer kitchen. Photo (2004) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead showing summer kitchen. Photo (2004) by Kenneth Mays.

For some of the time while Joseph was living there, the Homestead would have been the de facto Church headquarters since he had no office. Several sections of the Doctrine and Covenants were likely revealed here because this is where the Prophet was living at the time they were received (D&C 124, 125, 126).

Joseph Smith Homestead when the later additions were resided. Photo (2007) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead when the later additions were resided. Photo (2007) by Kenneth Mays.

The darker siding on the later additions was updated to white siding in 2007. It was felt that white would have been more historically accurate.

Joseph Smith Homestead with the graves of Joseph, Emma and Hyrum in the foreground. Photo (2008) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead with the graves of Joseph, Emma and Hyrum in the foreground. Photo (2008) by Kenneth Mays.

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

Map & Directions

The Joseph Smith Homestead is located on the bank of the Mississippi River at the southwest corner of the intersection of Main and Water Streets in Nauvoo. The gps coordinates are: 40°32’25.68″ N; 91°23’31.30″ W. To see the interior of the Homestead, one must take the tour which begins at the Joseph Smith Historic Site at 856 Water Street.

Ownership Status

The Joseph Smith Homestead is owned and maintained by Community of Christ. The exterior and grounds are always accessible to visitors. The interior, however, is open to the public by way of formal tours conducted by docents from Community of Christ. Tours begin at the Joseph Smith Historic Site located at 865 Water Street in Nauvoo. There is a small preservation fee requested for those who take the tour. Taking photographs of the interior of the Homestead is not allowed.

Photos

Joseph Smith Homestead. Photo (2002) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead. Photo (2002) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead with the Mississippi River seen at the left. Photo (2002) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead with the Mississippi River seen at the left. Photo (2002) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead. Photo (2008) by Kenneth Mays.
Joseph Smith Homestead. Photo (2008) by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Sources

Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling, 385-386.

Keith W. Perkins and Donald Q. Cannon, in LaMar C. Berrett, ed., Sacred Places, Vol. 3, 128-130.

Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo, a Place of Peace, a People of Promise, 659.