Plan of the House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio (Fragments), circa June 1833
Plan of the in , Ohio (Fragments), [Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH], ca. June 1833; text and drawings in handwriting of ; four leaves; Egyptian Papyri, CHL. Includes archival marking.Only four fragments of the plan of the in , Ohio, have been located. These fragments were used to preserve pieces of Egyptian papyrus that were owned by JS. Although the papyri were pasted on top of pieces of the plan, the drawings of the plan are visible around the papyri. Egyptian Papyri (also known as JS Papyri), Item 1 (called “fragment 1” herein) measures 7½ × 4¾ inches (19 × 12 cm). The recto of fragment 1 contains a partially visible drawing of a corner of the interior of the House of the Lord, featuring a chimney, a row of corner pews, and the beginnings of a side row of central pews. The existing drawing measures 6¼ × 4¾ inches (16 × 12 cm), though much of it is covered by papyrus, which measures 7½ × 3½–4 inches (19 × 9–10 cm). The verso of fragment 1 bears a partial drawing of a front corner and staircase of the House of the Lord; the drawing measures 2⅛ × 3¼ inches (5 × 8 cm). It also contains an archival marking in graphite. Egyptian Papyri, Item 3 (called “fragment 2” herein) is an irregular-size document measuring 10–12½ × 9–9½ inches (25–32 × 23–24 cm). A substantial piece is missing from one of the corners of this fragment. The recto of fragment 2 is completely covered by papyrus and no drawings of a plan are visible. Of all the fragments, the verso of fragment 2 bears the most detailed extant drawing of the floor plan of the House of the Lord in Kirtland. The plan, which covers most of the leaf, was drawn in ink and colored with red watercolor. The leaf comprises three smaller pieces of the plan that were pasted together; visible evidence of paste survives at points joining the three portions of the floor plan. Fragment 2 contains seven small holes, tears and cuts, mold spots, and archival marking. Egyptian Papyri, Item 10 (called “fragment 3” herein) measures 11½–11⅞ × 5⅞–6⅜ inches (29–30 × 15–16 cm) and has one large tear on the right edge measuring 1 × ⅝ inch (3 × 1 cm). The recto of fragment 3 contains handwritten text and possibly part of a drawing of the plan, which is covered by papyrus that measures 11¾ × 2⅜–4⅜ inches (30 × 6–11 cm). No plans are visible on the verso of fragment 3. Egyptian Papyri, Item 11 (called “fragment 4” herein) measures 6¾ × 4¾ inches (17 × 12 cm). The recto contains a drawing of the central pews and aisles, which covers the entire leaf. Pasted on top of the drawing is papyrus measuring 6¾ × 4 inches (17 × 10 cm). On the verso of fragment 4 is a drawing of a corner of the interior of the House of the Lord featuring a row of corner pews, a chimney, and the beginnings of a side row of central pews. The drawing measures 6¾ × 2⅞ inches (17 × 7 cm) and contains handwritten text and archival marking. Fragments 1 and 4 appear to have been separated, or cut, from each other after papyrus was attached to them.The plan of the in was cut into irregular sizes to fit, preserve, and protect pieces of the Egyptian papyrus sometime after JS acquired the papyri in July 1835, and likely before July 1840. Sometime before his death, JS gave the Egyptian papyri, as well as the Egyptian mummies he had acquired, to his mother, . Shortly after Lucy Mack Smith’s death in May 1856, , her husband Lewis C. Bidamon, and her son sold four Egyptian mummies, the papyrus fragments, and other papyrus rolls to Abel Combs. Combs separated the Egyptian artifacts and sold some of the rolls, two mummies, and some of the fragments to the Museum. The St. Louis Museum then sold them to the Museum, which was later purchased by Joseph H. Wood, who changed the name of the museum to Wood’s Museum in Chicago. Wood’s Museum was destroyed by fire in 1871. Combs maintained possession of some of the fragments and possibly the other two mummies, which eventually passed to Edward and Alice Heusser. In 1947, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in purchased the papyri fragments from Edward Heusser. Aziz Y. Atiya uncovered the fragments in a collection of Egyptian documents housed in the Metropolitan Museum and helped transfer ownership of these fragments to the LDS church in November 1967. The Egyptian papyri fragments are now preserved as one collection at the Church History Library.
(aSee, for example, JS, Journal, 3 and 24 Oct. 1835; 30 Nov. 1835; 7, 12, 14, 16, and 23 Dec. 1835; 12 and 30 Jan. 1836; 3 and 11 Feb. 1836. bJS, Journal, 17 Feb. 1836. c“A Glance at the Mormons,” North American and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 22 July 1840, .)
North American and Daily Advertiser. Philadelphia. 1839–1845.
Bidamon, Lewis C., Emma Smith Bidamon, and Joseph Smith III. Certificate of Sale to Abel Combs, Nauvoo, IL, 26 May 1856. CHL.
Gee, John. A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000.
Peterson, H. Donl. The Story of the Book of Abraham: Mummies, Manuscripts, and Mormonism. Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2008.
- 1 (aSee, for example, JS, Journal, 3 and 24 Oct. 1835; 30 Nov. 1835; 7, 12, 14, 16, and 23 Dec. 1835; 12 and 30 Jan. 1836; 3 and 11 Feb. 1836. bJS, Journal, 17 Feb. 1836. c“A Glance at the Mormons,” North American and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 22 July 1840, .)
The documents featured here are four fragments of a drawing of the interior floor plans for the , or temple, that was to be built in , Ohio. likely drew the plans in June 1833, as they are similar to the plans of the he drew and sent to , Missouri, that same summer. The original drawing was later cut into pieces, which were used as backings to preserve four pieces of Egyptian papyrus owned by JS; sections of the original drawing are visible on some of the rectos and versos of these backings. The sketches on the existing four fragments featured here reflect the early planning stages for building the House of the Lord in Kirtland.A JS revelation dictated in late December 1832 called on members of the to “establish, an house, even an house of prayer an house of fasting, an house of faith, an house of Learning, an house of glory, an house of order an house of God” in . On 1 June 1833, another JS revelation directed church members to make the construction of this religious house a higher priority than it had been. That revelation further directed that the house should “be built not after the manner of the world. for I give not unto you that ye shall live after the manner of the world. Therefore let it be built after the manner which I shall show unto three of you whom ye shall appoint and ordain unto this power.” In early June 1833, a of began drafting construction plans and, adhering to the instructions of the 1 June revelation, appointed three men—JS, , and , who together constituted the —as those to whom God should show the manner in which the temple was to be built. According to a reminiscent account from , shortly after receiving this appointment the three men had a vision in which they were shown “the plan or model of the House to be built.” Williams likely drew the architectural plan featured here soon after this experience.On 6 June 1833, a conference of high priests assigned , , and to oversee the building of the . These men composed the building committee, and they remained in that position until the building was completed in 1836. The conference also counseled the committee to “proceed immediately to commence building the House or obtaining material, Stone Brick Lumber &c.” Hyrum Smith recorded in his diary under the date of 7 June, “This Day Commenced making Preparation for the Building the House of the Lord.” These preparations included digging trenches for the structure’s foundation. To begin excavating for the foundation, the members of the building committee would have needed to know the size of the building. They apparently learned those measurements from the 1 June revelation, which indicated the building should be fifty-five feet wide, a measurement that matches the drawing on fragment 2. The committee likely used Williams’s drawings, of which the fragments featured here are a part, to begin construction on the House of the Lord in June 1833.In late June, about three weeks after they reportedly saw in a vision the design of the , the presidency of the high priesthood sent church leaders in a plat for the proposed city of and an architectural drawing of the size and form of a to be built in , Jackson County, Missouri. In a 25 June 1833 letter, the presidency directed the Missouri church leaders to build a House of the Lord “immediately in Zion.” The presidency also informed them, “We have commenced building the House of the Lord in this place [Kirtland], and it goes on rapidly.” Given the instructions and news found in this letter, the Kirtland leaders almost certainly had both interior and exterior drawings of the Kirtland House of the Lord with sufficient detail to support the start of construction before 25 June. No known evidence exists of later revisions to the plans, though they were possibly revised as late as August 1833 when JS, , and other Kirtland leaders revised the plans for the Independence House of the Lord.The , when completed, retained the basic design and proportions of the floor plans drawn for the in June and August. As did the Missouri temple plans, the completed House of the Lord in Kirtland had fourteen rows of pews in its center section, and the sizes of the pulpits in each set of temple plans appear to be virtually the same. In addition, the exterior drawings for the House of the Lord in Missouri are similar to what was eventually completed in Kirtland (no exterior drawings of the Kirtland House of the Lord are extant).Some elements found in the floor plans of the in , however, differ from elements in the plans of the House of the Lord sent to in June and August. The measurements on the floor plans featured here conform to the dimensions specified for the Kirtland temple in the 1 June 1833 revelation (fifty-five feet wide by sixty-five feet long) rather than the dimensions drawn in the temple plans (sixty-one feet wide by seventy-eight feet long). Most of the measurable dimensions of the floor plan on fragment 2 are therefore slightly narrower or shorter than their counterparts on the plans. Likely because the building was narrower, the floor plan on fragment 2 features only four rows of corner pews instead of five as were drawn in the plans for the Independence House of the Lord; the eventually completed temple in Kirtland contained four rows of pews in each corner. The narrower building also necessitated slightly narrower rows of pews and aisles, as shown on fragment 2, than the ones drawn on the plans sent to Independence.Each of the extant temple plans features numerical notations that refer the viewer to information found in the plan’s accompanying textual explanation, though the explanation for the plan featured here is not extant. These numbers are different on each of the plans. For example, the pulpits on this plan all feature the numeral 5. The June plan, however, uses numerals 1 through 4 to denote each set of pulpits, and the August Missouri plan marks its pulpits with the numerals 1 through 8. Additionally, the numerical notations of the August plan—particularly those associated with the chimneys, the aisles, and the stands next to the pulpits—are different from the notations on the floor plans featured here.Because of the complexity of these documents and the difficulty of transcribing drawings, the following presentation includes photographs of each fragment after the transcript of the text on the fragment. These fragments represent not only the earliest but also the only known contemporaneous drawings of the .
Angell, Truman O. Autobiography, 1884. CHL. MS 12334. Also available in Archie Leon Brown and Charlene L. Hathaway, 141 Years of Mormon Heritage: Rawsons, Browns, Angells—Pioneers (Oakland, CA: By the authors, 1973), 119–135.
Smith, Hyrum. Diary, Mar.–Apr. 1839, Oct. 1840. CHL. MS 2945.
Ames, Ira. Autobiography and Journal, 1858. CHL. MS 6055.
Johnson, Benjamin Franklin. “A Life Review,” after 1893. Benjamin Franklin Johnson, Papers, 1852–1911. CHL. MS 1289 box 1, fd. 1.
Johnson, Joel Hills. Reminiscences and Journals, 1835–1882. 3 vols. Joel Hills Johnson, Papers, 1835–1882. CHL. MS 1546, fds. 1–3.
Millet, Artemus. Reminiscences, ca. 1855 and ca. 1872, as copied in 1936. CHL. MS 1600.