“Nauvoo Temple to Be Rebuilt,” Ensign, May 1999, 111
The Nauvoo Temple, which was dedicated in 1846, once stood on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Illinois, but it was destroyed by fire in 1848 after early Church members were forced out of their city. A tornado later toppled the ruins, and scavengers removed the massive limestone blocks. Only a few ornamental stones have been preserved from the Church’s second temple.
At the close of the recent April 1999 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the following surprise announcement: “We plan to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple. A member of the Church and his family have provided a very substantial contribution to make this possible. We are grateful to them. It will be a while before it happens, but the architects have begun their work. This temple will not be busy much of the time; it will be somewhat isolated. But during the summer months, we anticipate it will be very busy. And the new building will stand as a memorial to those who built the first such structure there on the banks of the Mississippi.”
Today, the four-acre, Church-owned temple grounds are landscaped and surrounded by a wrought-iron fence, with excavated remains of the temple foundation and basement visible to tourists. Last year the Church purchased about eight acres west of the temple grounds, where a Catholic monastery and academy operated for many years. The Church has restored a number of pioneer buildings and has a large visitors’ center in historic Nauvoo.
The Nauvoo Temple, which was in full operation for only eight weeks, had 60 rooms, light-gray limestone walls four to six feet thick, and a single 165-foot tower. The temple’s bell was carted by wagon to the Salt Lake Valley and presently hangs on Temple Square.