Nauvoo House, Nauvoo, Illinois

Nauvoo House or Riverside Mansion. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Nauvoo House or Riverside Mansion. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Joseph Smith received a revelation on January 19, 1841 instructing the Saints to construct a boarding house named the Nauvoo House to “be a delightful habitation for man, and a resting-place for the weary traveler, that he may contemplate the glory of Zion.”1

Nauvoo House and Lewis Bidamon's riding stable (left). Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Nauvoo House and Mississippi River (rightt). Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Shortly thereafter, the Nauvoo House Association was created on February 23, 1841 to help oversee the construction of the building. Less than six months later, the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House was laid and many items were deposited into it including the original manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon.2 However, construction was halted in 1844 to devote more attention 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, their bodies were secretly buried in cellar of the uncompleted Nauvoo House to protect the bodies from falling into the hands of the mob. They were later moved to a resting place near the Mansion House.3

Nauvoo House showing the original cornerstone (foreground, left). Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Nauvoo House showing the original cornerstone (foreground, left). Photo by Kenneth Mays.

With the death of the Prophet, the title of the Nauvoo House passed to Emma Smith. In the 1870s, after Emma married Lewis Bidamon, the unfinished portion of the house was used to construct the Riverside Mansion. 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.4 The Riverside Mansion served as the home where both Bidamon and Emma lived until their deaths.

Descendants of Joseph and Emma Smith in front of the Nauvoo House. Photo (2007) by Kenneth Mays.
Descendants of Joseph and Emma Smith in front of the Nauvoo House. Photo (2007) by Kenneth Mays.

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.


SOURCES

 

Doctrine & Covenants 124:60.

“The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era, Vol. 3, No. 1, November 1899.

Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951), 6: 628.

Dean C. Jessee, “The Original Book of Mormon Manuscript,” BYU Studies, (Spring 1970), 277.

Map & Directions


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Hours of Operation:
March – November: Monday Through Saturday – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Sunday 1:00 AM – 5:00 PM

December: Monday Through Saturday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Sunday Closed

January – February: Friday and Saturday only – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Ownership Status

The Nauvoo House is owned and maintained by Community of Christ. It is visited on formal tours conducted by authorized docents from Community of Christ but only from the outside. It may be rented out as a place to stay for groups visiting Nauvoo. Tours begin at the Joseph Smith Historic Site located at 865 Water Street in Nauvoo.

Photos

Nauvoo House or Riverside Mansion. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Nauvoo House or Riverside Mansion. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Nauvoo House or Riverside Mansion. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Nauvoo House or Riverside Mansion. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

“The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era, Vol. Iii., No. 1, November, 1899.

Dean C. Jessee, “The Original Book of Mormon Manuscript,”  BYU Studies, Vol. 10, Number 3, Spring 1970.

Nauvoo House PDF