New visitors center to be constructed near Sacred Grove

Awooded grove near Palmyra, N.Y. - the site of one of the most sacred events in Church history - is being restored to its early 19th century appearance, the First Presidency has announced.

Jay Blair of the Church Missionary Department, said restoration of the Sacred Grove and the Joseph Smith Farm - where the Father and the Son, and later the Angel Moroni, appeared to Joseph Smith during the 1820s - has been on the Church's historic site master list for the last several years.He added that after recent visits to the site by the First Presidency, "they felt it was appropriate and timely to proceed."

The restoration project, which is already under way, will include the building of a visitors center, an authentic replica of the Smith family log home, realignment and restoration of the road that ran through the property in 1820, and restoration of a period garden, orchard, and fence.

A second stage of the project will include work on the existing frame home on the property - built by the Smiths before they moved from the area to Ohio - and restoration of a barn, cooper's shop, apple orchard, farm fields, stream bed and marsh area. Visitor accommodations will also be provided, including walking paths, interpretive signs and restrooms.

Brother Blair said work on the visitors center will start next spring. It should be finished in less than a year - in the spring of 1999. The entire project will be completed by the year 2000 or 2001, noted Brother Blair.

He said the purpose of the project is to inspire and strengthen Church members and to help all visitors understand and appreciate Joseph Smith's divine calling and his experiences that led to the restoration of the gospel and the organization of the Church.

While living in the log house during the spring of 1820, young Joseph received the First Vision in The Sacred Grove. In September 1823, Joseph witnessed the first of many heavenly visitations from the Angel Moroni.

The Smiths built and moved into the frame home in the spring of 1825 and were living there when Joseph was entrusted, in September 1827, with the golden plates. In order to protect the records, he hid them briefly under the hearth in the home.

Other events that took place on the property included preparation of the printer's manuscript for the Book of Mormon, baptisms in nearby Crooked Creek, preparations for the formal organization of the Church, and a number of meetings of the Church after its organization.

The Smith family moved from the property in 1830 and joined with other members of the newly restored Church in northern Ohio.

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