Palmyra Sites, Historic Utah Chapel Dedicated
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“Palmyra Sites, Historic Utah Chapel Dedicated,” Ensign, May 1998, 117–18

Palmyra Sites, Historic Utah Chapel Dedicated

Hundreds of persons congregated in early spring in a Church meetinghouse in Palmyra, New York, for the dedication of two important, nearby Church history sites: the renovated Grandin building, now officially known as the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site, and the newly constructed Joseph Smith log home replica.

“They’re not shrines,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley regarding the sites. “We don’t worship them, but we respect them and honor them and like the common feel of the spirit that’s to be found in them. … Our roots are here.”

The Grandin building, located in the business center of Palmyra, was dedicated by President Hinckley on Thursday evening, 26 March 1998, the anniversary of the completion of the first printing of the Book of Mormon in 1830. Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, President of the North America Northeast Area, conducted the meeting. Several descendants of printer Egbert B. Grandin attended the service, as well as members from nearby stakes and several former missionaries who had served in Palmyra.

The Prophet Joseph Smith signed a contract with E. B. Grandin in 1829 to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon at a cost of $3,000. Since that time, the building has housed a law office, a millinery, tailor and tin shops, a hardware store, and a variety store. Intensive renovation of the building, donated to the Church in 1978, took about 2 1/2 years. Visitors are now able to better experience the setting in which the Book of Mormon was published and learn about Church history through new exhibits.

The Book of Mormon “is going across the earth in a miraculous and wonderful way,” remarked President Hinckley. “We are printing now about five or six million copies a year in various tongues and languages. I think that those who set the type and those who rolled the press … never in their wildest imaginations dreamed that this marvelous testament of the New World would go forth across the earth in the fashion in which it has done.”

The next morning, Friday, 27 March 1998, President Hinckley gave a dedicatory prayer for the 1 1/2-story replica of a log home originally built during the winter of 1818–19 by the family of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. The replica is located on the log home’s original site near the Smith family’s frame home, a restored version of which has served for many years as a Church visitors’ center. The log home was where the angel Moroni appeared to 17-year-old Joseph Smith in September 1823 to instruct him about the plates buried in nearby Hill Cumorah. Both Smith houses are located near the wooded area known as the Sacred Grove.

Speaking of the First Vision, President Hinckley said: “I can imagine in my mind the boy coming up here from the grove, walking very slowly, thinking of the things that had happened. … That began the unfolding of this, the most wonderful and remarkable manifestation and dispensation in the history of all mankind.”

President Hinckley concluded his remarks in the log home by saying, “May we remember always the things that have occurred here and carry them in our hearts and bolster our faith in this great latter-day work.”

Shirley Woodruff, who served with her husband, Rex, as a full-time missionary in Palmyra during the early 1990s, said: “I remember telling people at the Joseph Smith home that at first he lived in a log cabin just down the road. They just couldn’t visualize it. Now they can!”

Springville, Utah, Meetinghouse

“This building came out of faith,” said President Hinckley at the 1 March rededication of a restored Springville, Utah, meetinghouse. “The value of all the eggs that were laid on Sunday was contributed to the purchase of nails. I suppose some of those old nails are still in the shell of that building—egg nails. They are holding on, and that is a sign of the great faith of these people.”

The meetinghouse was originally dedicated in 1913 by Elder Reed Smoot of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and after expansion and improvements it was rededicated by President Heber J. Grant in 1931. “We have a history of prophets and Apostles dedicating this beautiful edifice,” remarked Elder Ben B. Banks of the Seventy, President of the Utah South Area, who conducted the meeting. “How fitting today to have our living prophet, even President Gordon B. Hinckley, here to rededicate this beautiful edifice.”

Recalling that the Springville meetinghouse property was purchased in 1895 and that construction took some 18 years, President Hinckley said: “What a beautiful structure it is. When I came in here today, I just marveled at it.”

About 1,400 people attended the rededication service, most of whom were members of the Kolob Second and Kolob Fourth Wards, which meet in the building.

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President Hinckley speaks at the dedication of the Joseph Smith log home replica. (Photography by Craig Dimond.)

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President Hinckley talks with a reporter outside the log home replica on Stafford Road near Palmyra, New York.

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President Hinckley conducts the dedication for the renovated Grandin building in the Palmyra chapel. Overflow crowds in the Rochester New York Palmyra Stake Center listened to the dedication via an audio feed.