The historic Grandin Building on Main Street in downtown Palmyra was recently closed for restoration. It was in the Grandin Building, now owned by the Church, where the first copies of the Book of Mormon were printed by E.B. Grandin. The building, which is in the village's historic district, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building was closed Nov. 20 and Elder Robert L. Stephenson, director of historic sites for the Cumorah region, announced that there would be no more tours of the building until the restoration is completed in 18 months or more.Steve Olsen, manager of operations at the Museum of Church History and Art, said: "A great deal of historical, archaeological, and architectural research has been done on this building in the last months. It is very important that we be historically accurate in what we are doing here. We want the restoration to be compatible in every way to its early 1800s beginnings. We are trying to preserve and contribute as much to the heritage of Palmyra as to the heritage of Mormonism."
He said that the building is being closed now so research about the first floor can be completed. "To do that, carpets must be taken up, walls torn into and displays removed. We want to uncover some of the historic mysteries we feel lie hidden in this building," he explained.
Don Enders, who is assisting Brother Olsen in the restoration project, said that the restoration of the Grandin Building should attract many visitors to Palmyra. "A completely restored 1829 printing office with a bindery and printing equipment of the period, type cases and a functioning press should be a major historical draw in upstate New York. New York has long been a state that has preserved its historical heritage. The Erie Canal was a main commercial avenue that passed through Palmyra. An Erie Canal improvement and expansion project is being worked on now. This should attract many tourists to the area, and of course the Grandin Building will add to the draw. There were 17,473 who visited the Grandin Building last year," he said. "This restoration should greatly add to those numbers."
A lot of interest was generated in the Palmyra area last January when it was announced that the Grandin Building would be closed temporarily sometime this year. The Canandaigua Daily Messenger carried a full page story with pictures, as did the Palmyra Courier Journal and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the largest newspaper in Rochester.
In the Democrat and Chronicle article, Agnes Griffith, village preservationist and philanthropist who heads the Griffith-McLouth Foundation, said she was very grateful to the Mormons "for making this contribution to our village, preserving their history and our own."