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2 Times Temples Were Not Saved from Fire + What It Teaches Us About Blessings

by | Feb. 16, 2019

Mormon Life


2. Nauvoo Illinois Temple Fire

After intense persecution, the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois, made the difficult decision in 1845 to leave Nauvoo the following spring. 

The temple, which wasn't yet completed, would be left behind. 

As a result, the attic of the temple was dedicated and endowment sessions were held around the clock. Brigham Young, who originally planned to leave Nauvoo February 4, 1846, delayed his departure by two weeks when he saw members crowding outside the not-yet-complete temple, waiting to receive their endowments. 

Before the Saints left Nauvoo, 5,615 members were able to receive their endowments in the Nauvoo temple, according to history.lds.org

On October 9, 1848, the Nauvoo Temple caught fire. 

"About 3 o’clock (in the morning) fire was discovered in the cupola. It had made but little headway when first seen, but spread rapidly, and in a very short period the lofty spire was a mass of flame, shooting high in the air, and illuminating a wide extent of country. It was seen for miles away. The citizens gathered around, but nothing could be done to save the structure. It was entirely of wood except the walls, and nothing could have stopped the progress of the flames. In two hours, and before the sun dawned upon the earth, the proud structure, reared at so much cost—an anomaly in architecture, and a monument of religious zeal—stood with four blackened and smoking walls only remaining" (Andrew Jenson, “The Nauvoo Temple,” Historical Record, June 1889, 872–873). 

Only the outer walls survived the fire, but those too were destroyed after a tornado in 1850 left all but the crumbled west face and some of the stones were salvaged for other buildings. 

In 1937, the Church began slowly purchasing the land of the original temple block until October 1999, when President Hinckley announced the Nauvoo Temple would be rebuilt. 

At the cornerstone ceremony, President Boyd K. Packer said, "The temple was destroyed and burned, and the stones of the temple were scattered like the bones had been cremated, and the temple, in effect, was dead. . . . So the temple died. But now, this day, it has come to a resurrection. The Temple stands here again" (R. Scott Lloyd, “Bonding with an Earlier Era,” Church News, Nov. 11, 2000). 

Lead image from lds.org

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