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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 23, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 19Apr00

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 popularity."

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.


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