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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 16, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 03Jul00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

The Invasion of the Saints
Time Magazine 10Jul00 N1
By David Van Biema

NAUVOO, ILLINOIS -- Major articles this weekend, the first in Time Magazine and three related articles in the Deseret News, look at the LDS Church's construction of a Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois, the effort going into the Temple and the effect that the building will have on the town.

Time's article is part of a special issue of the magazine which looks at towns along the Mississippi. Van Biema notes that Nauvoo is different from other Mississippi river towns because it has "two histories and two identities." Mormons remember the town's history as a Mormon capital and the building of the LDS Temple there, and its memory has become a kind of Mormon Camelot, attaining, as Richard Ostling, co-author of "Mormons in America" says, the status of a lost ideal.

But Mormons know relatively little about the town's history after their people left Nauvoo, which transformed it into a predominantly Catholic community of 1,200 people. With the LDS Church's return to the town, personified by the reconstruction of the Temple, Van Biema says that Mormons are recovering their past and achieving a kind of redemption. But, he notes, "The irony is that in doing so, they may erase the identity of the community of 1,200 people that grew up in the interim."

And the proposed construction did cause controversy, as citizens of Nauvoo felt invaded, "We felt, hey, you're going to take away our quiet little town," says John McCarty, a Nauvoo city council member. "But the church never had a concept of that. They were just going to get their temple." But the situation isn't quite that simple. The plan to build the Temple acknowledged that it would bring an estimated 1 million tourists to the town each year, along with the tourism dollars that they bring. To ease the burden the LDS Church gave the town $471,000 for expenses and paid for Ken Millard, an LDS Church member, to serve as city planner, a position the town didn't have until the Church provided it.

But many in the town also knew that tourists aren't always pleasant, and that many Mormon tourists seemed to feel like they own the town, even before the Temple reconstruction was announced. City planner Millard acknowledges that some Mormons have exhibited "an arrogance and ownership" of the town. Merchants on Main Street in Nauvoo go farther, telling stories of tourists that left goods on the counter when they discovered that the merchant wasn't an LDS Church member.

But the deal may well mean the death of the Nauvoo that has existed since soon after the last Mormons left in 1848. The announcement has brought an even greater influx of Mormons to Nauvoo, as Mormon ownership of town land has increased to 32%, a BYU extension has opened in a former Catholic boarding school and house prices in the Flats area of town have risen from $20,000 to $250,000, raising tax assessments on those that choose not to sell. And local politicians note that it will take just 900 Mormon immigrants to give the town a Mormon majority again.

Some in town resent the changes. Jane Langford, owner and publisher of the Nauvoo New Independent says, "They want to take back Nauvoo, and since they can't do it with guns, they are doing it with money." Others fear that the town will outlaw alcohol if LDS Church members get control, "I own the Draft House in Nauvoo," says Sonja Bush, "and was informed tonight that the city planner (LDS Church member Millard) referred to it as 'a place of sin.' Boy! You should have seen it. Wednesday is 'Chicken Nite' and a lot of our sinners were in their 60s to mid-80s. They were kicking up their heels and having a sinful good time!"

But Biema says its hard to imagine such a statement from Millard, who instead says that the Church isn't trying to change the town, "We don't want to see change in Nauvoo," he says, "yet there's no way you can stop [it]." But he adds, "The church believes in unity and harmony, and the official position is to work things out. But when there's a goal to accomplish, they like it to be accomplished."

Meanwhile, the Deseret News' articles look at the Temple from a purely LDS standpoint. One article by Stephen Martin reports on difficulties with the Temple's construction due to heavy rains in Nauvoo last week, and another by Carrie Moore talks about the feelings that LDS Church members have about Nauvoo and its Temple, recounting the history of the building and the collection of artifacts from the original building.

But the most interesting of the Deseret News' three articles is Moore's story about the efforts by architects and historians to piece together exactly what the original Temple looked like and to make the new Temple look as much like the original as possible.

According to Moore's article, soon after President Hinckley announced that the Temple would be built, the Church assembled a committee of Church members familiar with the original building to provide suggestions. In addition, architect Roger Jackson, a principal at FFKR Architects in Salt Lake City, has been provided and compiled evidence from journals, diaries, letters, archaeological excavations and an original construction materials roster to attempt to duplicate the original building. For the past eight months, Jackson and his team have immersed themselves in the details of the building.

The building's interior, which will already be significantly different from the original because of modern building codes and current Temple requirements, is the biggest difficulty for the architects. Many details are simply not known. "There is no known photograph on one side of the temple," says former construction manager Robert Dewey, "and the available photos show only the building's exterior."

Other records used by the architect include the original architectural drawings for the Temple, prepared by William Weeks, which were obtained by the Church in 1948 when two LDS missionaries knocked on the door of his grandson, and offered the plans to the Church.

Moore's article also talks about some of the accommodations that the architects are making to meet building codes and Temple requirements, as well as the many offers of donated materials and effort to build the Temple. Unlike with all other modern building projects, the LDS Church is accepting volunteer work on the Temple from skilled craftsman and donated materials from those that meet quality requirements.

See also:

Heavy rains cause big problems at Nauvoo Temple
Deseret News 2Jul00 N1
By Stephen A. Martin: Deseret News correspondent
City and church crews remove water-logged soil at the annex site

Edifice holds dear spot in hearts of LDS faithful
Deseret News 2Jul00 N1
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor

Resurrecting a temple
Deseret News 2Jul00 N1
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor
Nauvoo building will have fine, old craftsmanship and up-to-date technology


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