Joseph Smith Mansion House

Mansion House, early-20th century
Mansion House in 1946

The Joseph Smith Mansion House in Nauvoo, Illinois is a building constructed by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith used the house as a personal home, a public boarding house, a hotel, and as a site for the performance of temple ordinances.

In January 1841, Smith declared in a revelation that Latter Day Saint Robert D. Foster should fulfill the contract he had entered into to build a house for Smith to live in.[1] The house was constructed by Foster, and the Smith family moved into the Mansion House on August 31, 1843.[2] The house was a two-storey building built of white pine in the Greek Revival style.[3]

Initially, Smith used the house to entertain guests in Nauvoo, giving visitors free room and board. However, because he was unable to cover the expenses that this free lodging entailed, Smith began charging guests in September 1843 and running the Mansion House as a hotel.[4] At one point Smith had installed a bar, but quickly reversed his action at the request of his wife, Emma.[5] In January 1844, Smith leased the hotel to Ebenezer Robinson, who continued to operate it.[6]

Prior to the completion of the Nauvoo Temple, Smith performed some temple ordinances in the Mansion House.[7]

After Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed in Carthage Jail in June 1844, their bodies were displayed in the Mansion House, where approximately ten thousand people viewed the bodies on June 29.[8] George Q. Cannon constructed the Smiths' death masks in the house.[9]

Emma Smith and her children continued to live in the Mansion House. After Emma Smith married Lewis C. Bidamon in 1847, they lived in the house until 1869, when they moved to the Nauvoo House. In the 1890s, the hotel wing of the home was removed.

In 1918, Frederick A. Smith, Joseph Smith's grandson, deeded the Mansion House to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church).[3] The Mansion House is still owned by the RLDS Church, which is now called the Community of Christ, and it operates the house as a historical site and a tourist museum. The Mansion House is part of the Nauvoo Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.


  1. Doctrine and Covenants 124:115.
  2. Joseph Smith (B. H. Roberts (ed.), 1902). History of the Church 5:556.
  3. 1 2 John Drury (1977). Old Illinois Houses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) s.v. "The Mansion House".
  4. Joseph Smith (B. H. Roberts (ed.), 1902). History of the Church 6:33.
  5. "Saints' Herald", vol. 80 (January 1935):110.
  6. Joseph Smith (B. H. Roberts (ed.), 1902). History of the Church 6:185.
  7. Lisle G. Brown, "The Sacred Departments for Temple Work in Nauvoo: The Assembly Room and the Council Chamber", BYU Studies, vol. 19, no. 3, (Spring 1979) p. 364.
  8. Joseph Smith (B. H. Roberts (ed.), 1902). History of the Church 6:627–28.
  9. "Passing Events," Improvement Era, vol. 28, no. 4, (February 1925).

External links

Coordinates: 40°32′28″N 91°23′29″W / 40.54098°N 91.39137°W / 40.54098; -91.39137

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