Toward the end of our time in Nauvoo I got to see more of the historic sites when my parents came to town. We made a point of seeing a handful of buildings that we had not been inside before including the Brigham Young Home and Wilford Woodruff Home. We made a visit to some of the favorite, must-see sites in Nauvoo like the brickyard and the Family Living Center. We also stopped by two sites my parents didn’t know were there or that you could tour, the Old Burial Ground and the Willard Richards Inn.
Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff Homes
These two brick homes have been lived in since the Saints left in 1846 keeping them in very good condition. There are senior missionaries in each building to give tours. They tell you about the buildings, their furnishings and most importantly the people who lived there and those who visited them. There are the anecdotes you hear in almost all historic American homes about tightening the bed ropes and making sure you don’t have bed bugs, but there are also more specific stories.
In the Brigham Young Home you visit the room that he used for the office of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In that room they planned the epic journey across the continent. In some ways it is humbling to be in the same room that ‘America’s Moses’ and the second prophet for the Mormon Church used to conduct business and plan such a massive exodus.
The Wilford Woodruff Home is the iconic Nauvoo brick house with the double chimneys. He had a fireplace built in each room because of his experience in England. This is the home that he left many times in the service of God as he went to preach overseas and then finally to cross the Great Plains and serve as a counselor to Brigham Young. This home has many wonderful furnishings, some original to the home and family but almost all original to the period.
Family Living Center and Brickyard
The Brickyard is one of many sites where trades are practiced or demonstrated in Nauvoo. There were more than ten brickyards in Nauvoo’s heyday with dozens of brickhomes being built throughout the city. Brick was used for many reasons one being its symbolism of permanence and security. Unfortunately, many of the brick homes in the city were only lived in for a short time, some just months or weeks, before the mass exodus.
There are many other trade shops in Nauvoo that demonstrate or showcase trades of the 1840s such as the Blacksmith Shop, the Stoddard Tin Shop, the Browning Home and Gunsmith Shop, and the Times and Seasons Printing Office. Also, the Family Living Center highlights several skills and trades of the mid-1800s. The demonstrations include barrel making, pottery, rope making, weaving, carding and spinning, candle making, and bread baking. The rope making is hands on and you get to take the rope home you made. Each family can also get a candle from the candle making demonstration and try freshly baked bread from the bustle oven that morning.
More adventure to come soon …