In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith on Jan. 19, 1841, the saints in Nauvoo, Ill., were given instructions pertaining to the building of a boarding house and a temple.
The first structure mentioned was to be a house "for boarding, a house that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein; . . . a good house, worthy of all acceptation, that the weary traveler may find health and safety while he shall contemplate the word of the Lord. . . ." (D&C 124:23.)"There is no greater inducement for travelers to visit a place than good hotel accommodations," states a footnote in Doctrine and Covenants Commentary. (Page 772.) "This revelation proves that the Lord wanted the tourists of the world to visit and become acquainted with the saints. They were not to be surrounded by a wall of isolation. They had nothing to hide from the world.
"The erection of the hotel here referred to, generally known as the Nauvoo House, was commenced in the spring of 1841, and in 1846, when the saints left Nauvoo, the walls were up above the windows of the second story. It fronted two streets, 120 feet on each. The estimated cost was $100,000. It was planned to be the most magnificent hotel in the West, at the time.
"When the saints left the city, the unfinished building became the property of the Prophet's widow, and was subsequently claimed by her second husband, Mr. L.C. Bidamon. In 1872 he put part of it under roof and fitted it up as a hotel, known as the Bidamon House."
The saints were also instructed to build a temple, "a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein. For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood." (D&C 124:27-28.)
"The importance of temples and the work in them has been a doctrine of the Church from the beginning," wrote Elder Joseph Fielding Smith in Church History and Modern Revelation 2:265.
"We have seen how the Lord rebuked the saints for not building the Kirtland Temple as soon as they should have done, after the call was given; also how the command was given to build a temple in Jackson County, which was prohibited by the enemies of the Church. Almost as soon as the Prophet and his brethren arrived in Nauvoo from their imprisonment and persecutions in Missouri, the Lord gave instructions that a temple should be built in Nauvoo."
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Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: History of the Church, by Joseph Smith; A Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 2, by B.H. Roberts; A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, vol. 2, by Daniel H. Ludlow; Doctrine and Covenants Commentary.