Summarized by Kent Larsen
Mormons fund $10 million plan for restoration in Kirtland
Cleveland OH Plain Dealer 18Apr00 N1
By Sarah Hollander: Plain Dealer Reporter
KIRTLAND, OHIO -- The LDS Church presented plans to the Kirtland City
Council Monday detailing an investment of $10 million to restore and
rebuild LDS landmarks in the town. The investment is the first major
expenditure in the area since the 1984 renovation of the Kirtland
General Store and a visitor's center. The plan includes a new visitors
center, an inn and a commercial building, restored versions of early
Kirtland buildings. A home, tannery and school house will also be
remodeled under the plan.
The proposal comes about 1 year after the LDS Church funded the $3.5
million re-alignment of the intersection of Ohio 306 and 615,
construction of which is scheduled to begin next week. The re-alignment
will help traffic flow around the site, rather than through it.
Elder Loren C. Dunn of the First Quorum of the Seventy and executive
director of historical sites for the LDS Church presented the plan to
Kirtland officials on Monday. Reaction from Kirtland was generally
positive. City Council President Bob Umholtz compared the plan to
Williamsburg."It's going to aesthetically improve the appearance of
Kirtland dramatically," he said. "When people enter Kirtland, this will
be one of the first sites they see."
Local stake president Timonthy Headrick, said that the project will
mean a lot to local members, "To see these buildings brought back is
like seeing family come home." He says the buildings will help explain
Mormon history to outsiders.
The current visitors center hosted 35,000 visitors last year, and the
Church hopes that the changes will mean many more people will come.
Lake County Visitors Bureau executive director Robert Ulas agrees that
it will happen, "I think people underestimate the drawing power of the
Mormon community. It's worldwide, and pilgrimage is an important part
of their lives." He also expects many non-Mormons to come, "Besides
rollercoasters, history and ecotourism are right up there in
Currently, the most popular sites for visitors are the Hiram farm where
Joseph Smith lived and the general store, in addition to the Kirtland
Temple, which is owned by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints.
Research for the project has already been launched, with academics
collecting information from old photographs, tree ring dating,
newspaper articles, maps, tax records and foundation lines to prepare
rebuilding and remodeling plans. Elwin Robinson, local project
coordinator and an architectural historian from Kent State University
is coordinating the research.