Floor Plan for Joseph Smith’s Store, between February and December 1841
Floor Plan for JS’s store, [, Hancock Co., IL, between Feb. and Dec. 1841]; drawing and text in handwriting of and unidentified scribe; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes archival marking.
Single leaf measuring 7⅞ × 12¼ inches (20 × 31 cm). The original size of the leaf is unknown, as the bottom edge was hand cut. The drawing and text of the floor plan are in graphite on the recto. The verso was apparently blank but was later used as scratch paper—it includes financial calculations that are apparently unrelated to the floor plan.
This document, along with many other personal and institutional documents that kept, was inherited by Newel K. and ’s daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who was married to Isaac Groo. The documents were passed down within the Groo family. Between 1969 and 1974 the Groo family donated their collection of Newel K. Whitney’s papers to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.
Andrus and Fuller, Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 24.
Andrus, Hyrum L., and Chris Fuller, comp. Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers. Provo, UT: Division of Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, 1978.
Located on the southeast corner of Water and Granger streets in , Illinois, JS’s was a large two-story brick building with a cellar. The primary retail area was on the first floor; more counters and storage space were on the second floor. Both floors also contained office space. Featured here is a floor plan for the ground floor of the store, possibly drawn up under JS’s direction, that was produced sometime in 1841—most likely between February and August but possibly as late as December.
Though the floor plan is undated, it was certainly created during 1841. The draft describes a “Trustees Office,” referring to the position of trustee-in-trust for the , a title applied to JS only after his election to that office on 30 January 1841. Construction on the building had evidently commenced by September 1841. By 14 December 1841 the was largely complete, with goods being unpacked on the second floor and joiners and masons still working on the lower floor. The layout of rooms on the floor plan differed from the actual arrangement of rooms on the ground floor of the store, which was described in detail by JS in a letter to dated 5 January 1842—the day the store opened. This suggests that the floor plan reflected an earlier, partially aborted design, rather than being created after the store opened to describe the completed structure. Additionally, the cumulative measurements of the length and width as given on the floor plan do not match the interior dimensions of the foundation of the completed store (which measure 41.1 × 23.1 feet); also, there were no exterior windows on the side walls. The detailed measurements included on the floor plan suggest that it was intended as more than a rough sketch. At some point wrote labels identifying the use of the rooms. The document was likely inscribed in . It is unclear who drew the floor plan, but the building was constructed by millwright .
As seen in the image, the plan contemplated that the ground floor would be divided into four rooms—an office for clerks, an office for the trustee, a “Loungers Hall,” and the ’s retail area. The following transcript presents the text of the plan in four groupings, one for each of these four rooms. Any text that was written sideways on the plan is transcribed right side up.
In a 5 January 1842 letter to Edward Hunter, JS referred to the “large New. Building. which I had commenced when you were here.” Hunter had traveled to Nauvoo in September 1841 to purchase land. (Letter to Edward Hunter, 5 Jan. 1842; “List of Property in the City of Nauvoo,” 1841, block 155, lot 1, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL; Chauncey Robison, Recorder’s Certificate, 25 Sept. 1841, Edward Hunter, Collection, 1816–1884, CHL; see also Launius and McKiernan, Joseph Smith, Jr.’s Red Brick Store, 11–12.)
The numerals in this transcript represent measurements in feet and inches. For example, “2.5” means two feet, five inches.
“chairs for clerks,” “Clerks Office,” “12 feet,” “Loungers Hall,” “Trustees Office,” and “Store” are in the handwriting of William Clayton. The other text may be in Clayton’s handwriting, but because it is so small and cramped, a positive identification cannot be made.