Temple City Experience

Location: Partridge Street

In 2020, construction and restoration work was completed at several historic properties. Four of them are now part of a special 45-minute walking tour introducing visitors to a farmer, an architect, a stonecutter, and a bishop whose families played a role in building the Nauvoo Temple under the direction of Joseph Smith. We sometimes refer to Nauvoo as a “temple city” because of the central role the temple played then and plays now in helping Church members understand God’s eternal plan for His children.

Experience the Temple City Tour from your computer or smart phone with our Image Gallery or schedule a  Live Video Tour. Click on the links below to see more.

Image Gallery

Peek inside the Gheen, Weeks & Hunter Homes as you scroll through our image gallery.

Gheen Home
William and Esther Gheen and their six children lived in this home, which has been restored to its 1840s size and layout. The Gheen’s had been prosperous farmers in Pennsylvania and continued farming in Nauvoo.
Gheen Main Floor
After moving to Nauvoo, the Gheen’s donated half of their newly purchased land to the Church. They also contributed labor and funds to help build the temple. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were frequent visitors to this home.
Nauvoo Wards
Like other cities in Illinois, Nauvoo was divided into administrative units called wards. It became a logical way to organize Church assignments, as well. The tradition carried on after the Saints left Nauvoo, and Latter-day Saints still call their main congregations wards.
Weeks’ Home
This newly restored home belonged to William and Caroline Weeks. Joseph Smith selected William as the architect for the Nauvoo temple in 1841 after calling for design proposals and liking William’s initial ideas best.
Weeks used this area to showcase design options for clients. For instance, two fireplaces are finished in different styles: one in wood and one in painted marble. The home also had some conveniences like a kitchen in the basement.
Day Room
The family would have slept upstairs, but Caroline may have used this day room to tend to napping children and household chores. Two children lived in this home, but the couple eventually had ten, with three living to adulthood.
William’s Office
The temple design phase lasted nearly two years and went through numerous revisions until plans aligned with Joseph’s vision for the temple. The cornerstones had been laid before designs were finalized in 1843.
Jones Pavilion
William Jones was a stonecutter. He and his wife, Elizabeth, lived somewhere near this pavilion. William cut the first moonstone for the temple from locally quarried limestone.
Pavilion Demonstrations
At the activity pavilion, guests learn how stone was cut and placed to build the temple. Interactive demonstrations will be available in the future.
Hunter Home
Edward and Anne Hunter were friends with the Gheen’s and also played an important role in Nauvoo. This home was rebuilt on the original foundation; it is one of the few places we know Joseph Smith received and recorded revelation.
Parlor/Sitting Room
The Hunter’s were a prosperous family and their furnishings and large home reflected their tastes and reputation for hospitality.
Period Furniture
Music was important to the Latter-day Saints. This period piano reminds visitors of the efforts made to foster refinement in Nauvoo.
View from Front Room
The purple pineapple wallpaper was a popular symbol of hospitality in the 1800s. The Hunter family may not have had this wallpaper in their home, but they would have been aware of it and may have ordered something similarly elaborate from suppliers in eastern states.
Period Replica Desk
Joseph Smith lived with the Hunter family for a while to evade capture by Missouri marshals. This room helps visitors imagine how Joseph may have dictated revelations received here regarding proxy baptisms for the dead.
Summer Kitchen
This kitchen addition was probably built in 1843-44, about the same time Edward was called to be a bishop. As such, he was responsible for collecting tithing. In-kind donations like those represented here would be transferred to the main tithing office and distributed to those in need or used for the temple.
Gheen Home
William Gheen died at home in 1845 before the Nauvoo Temple was completed. His wife, Esther, was able to be sealed to him by proxy in the temple on February 2, 1846. This fulfilled their desire for their family to be together forever.
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