“Whitney Store Wins Major U.S. Preservation Award,” Ensign, Jan. 1989, 76–77
The Church has received a President’s Historic Preservation Award for the restoration of the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio.
On November 18, U.S. President Ronald Reagan presented the award to Elder John K. Carmack. Elder Carmack, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, is Managing Director of the Church’s Historical Department.
The award is part of a national program to honor the preservation of historic sites. The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation—an independent federal agency—sponsor the program, which also includes the National Historic Preservation Award for federally assisted projects.
Only nine other projects and programs received the President’s award, while eighteen received the national award. The council received entries from forty-five states and Puerto Rico. To be considered for an award, an entry’s preservation must have been completed in the last ten years, and the project must preserve a property listed in or eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Newel K. Whitney store, built in 1827, was more than just a mercantile establishment. After Newel Whitney embraced the restored gospel, he gave nearly all his time and means to the development of the Church. From 1832 to 1834, his shop was part of the United Firm, an organization that consolidated mercantile activities of the Church to hold property in trust, provide for the poor, and establish new stores in Ohio and Missouri. It continued as an economic center in Kirtland until 1838, when Brother Whitney moved to Missouri. From 1832 to 1833, the second floor and part of the first also served as Joseph and Emma Smith’s home.
In 1980, the Church purchased the store, then restored it as a museum to help preserve the early history of the Kirtland area and of the Church.
The five-member jury who selected the store for the award said that the restoration project “demonstrates careful research, contributes to an understanding of how one particular religious group moved across America, and shows how carefully preserved religious heritage can contribute … to the life of a community.” The Church was commended for creating a house museum, a type of museum that attempts to evoke and recreate the life of a certain period or area.
Also credited at the awards ceremony were Church Historical Department staff members who directed the restoration: Glen M. Leonard, chairman, Historic Sites Task Group; Paul L. Anderson and Richard W. Jackson, project supervisors; Donald L. Enders, researcher and coordinator for furnishing the store; T. Michael Smith, archaeologist and researcher; Steven L. Olsen, historian; and Mark N. Gilles, historical architect.