President Reagan, who joked that his 77 years of age show he knows something about historic preservation, presented to the Church on Nov. 18 a President's Historic Preservation Award for renovating the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio. (See Nov. 19 Church News.)
Elder John K. Carmack, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, received the award in behalf of the Church.Elder Carmack said in an interview before the awards ceremony that the restored store "is a place that more of our Latter-day Saints should see. It's well worth the trip."
He added that the Church hopes for increased visits there because the store is near Cleveland, and near a highway with 50,000 people passing by daily.
Elder Carmack, who is also managing director of the Church Historical Department, said Church employees used painstaking research to restore the building. Their work brought one of 10 national awards for privately funded, non-government preservation projects.
"This award is a nice recognition when you consider how large the United States is and how many historical places there are," Elder Carmack said. "This shows they the Church employeesT did their work well."
Elder Carmack added, "The building is really quite a keystone part of our history and heritage."
Joseph Smith once lived in an upstairs apartment there. It is where he taught early Church leaders in the School of the Prophets. And it is where he received many important revelations, including the Word of Wisdom.
President Reagan joked at the beginning of the awards ceremony in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House. "You know, when they told me that today's event was the Presidential Historic Preservation Awards, I said, `Oh, no, not another occasion to honor me.' "
More seriously, President Reagan honored all recipients as people "who have intertwined our hopes for the future of our civilization with a deep respect for the glories of our heritage.
"The presence of historic properties as working and productive assets in our communities gives us an important link between the past and the present and reminds us of what we were, who we are and where we hope to be."
Judges from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also praised the Church project, saying, "The Whitney store restoration demonstrates careful research contributing to an understanding of how one particular religious group moved across America and shows how carefully preserved religious history can contribute in a broader sense to the life of a community."
About an hour after the historic preservation ceremony, Elder Carmack represented the Church in another ceremony - the signing of sweeping anti-drug legislation that included anti-child-pornography provisions.
Elder Carmack said, "We the LDS ChurchT have been a major contributor to the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, which has really pushed this bill. So I have been invited to represent the Church, Utah and our community."