The restored Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site in downtown Palmyra, more generally known as the E.B. Grandin Building where the first copies of the Book of Mormon were published in 1830, was dedicated March 26 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
In the dedicatory meeting, held in the Palmyra Ward meetinghouse, President Hinckley spoke prior to offering the dedicatory prayer. He pointed out that beginning with the first edition of 5,000 copies printed in the Grandin building, the Church has now produced more than 88 million copies of the Book of Mormon."That speaks for itself," he said. "It wasn't a fly-by-night thing. It was a beginning of a great and marvelous venture in bringing forth to the world an added witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ."
President Hinckley, his wife, Marjorie; Elder Marlin K. Jensen and his wife, Kathleen; others traveling with President Hinckley; and a few local Church leaders began the evening with a private tour of the Grandin Building, which has been restored over a two-year period.
An addition to facilitate a visitors center has been built onto the back of the original building and as much of the original construction as possible has been uncovered. That includes some flooring and walls. In the press room on the third floor, the original flooring shows an imprint where the printer's foot was planted as he pulled down the press. There is also ink splattered on the floor and wall that likely relates to the printing of the Book of Mormon. The bindery is on the second floor and a replica of the bookstore that Egbert B. Grandin opened is on the ground level. Most of the furnishings in the building are replicas, including the presses and the bindery equipment. Also on display are items such as an original, first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon and proof sheets from the original printing. (For article on the restoration of the Grandin Building, please see March 28, 1998, Church News.)
For the dedication services, more than 800 members packed into the Palmyra Ward meetinghouse. Others gathered in the Rochester New York Palmyra Stake Center in Pittsford to listen via closed-circuit audio.
Elder Jensen conducted the meeting and also spoke. Other speakers were Sister Hinckley; Sister Jensen; Elder Charles Canfield, Palmyra Historic Sites director; and Pres. David L. Cook of the Palmyra stake. Also attending were seven other presidents of area stakes and two mission presidents.
President Hinckley noted that E.B. Grandin, at first, didn't want to print the Book of Mormon because he thought that would make him part of fraud and deceit. But his friend Martin Harris prevailed upon him to do what would be the beginning of a marvelous work.
The Book of MormonT has gone across the earth and is going across the earth in a miraculous and wonderful way," President Hinckley said. "We are printing now about five or six million copies a year in various tongues and languages. I think that those who set the type and those who rolled the press, those who had to do with that work never in their wildest imaginations dreamed that this marvelous testament of the New World would go forth across the earth in the fashion in which it has done."
President Hinckley said the Grandin Building was obtained by the Church 20 years ago through the efforts of Melvin Barlow, who was a mission president in the area in the 1970s. President Barlow negotiated the purchase of the building and gave it to the Church.
The Church president also noted that it has been through the diligent efforts of many others that the restoration has been completed and expressed gratitude for their efforts.
He bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and of its power in moving the gospel forward throughout the world.
"There's nothing else like it," he said. "We love the Bible. We teach from the Bible. We read the Bible. It is one of the standard works of the Church. The Book of Mormon becomes a second witness. In the mouths of two or more witnesses, we're told in the scripture, shall all things be established. This book becomes that second witness, this book which came from the press of E.B. Grandin, first in March of 1830, and which has since been translated into numerous languages and tongues and which has gone over the earth in testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ."
In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley said: "We thank thee for E.B. Grandin. We know that he was an instrument in thy hands in bringing to pass this marvelous work. And with respect for him and love for him and his faithful and true associates who worked with him, we this night are gathered to dedicated the premises where that book was first published."
Continuing, President Hinckley spoke of the building: "May it be a place of great interest to the people of this Church from over the world. May they come here for a renewal of their faith. May they come to the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah and the Smith cabin and the Grandin Building from which the first edition of the Book of Mormon was issued and feel a great sense of gratitude and renewal in their hearts as they partake of the spirit of this place."
In her talk, Sister Hinckley said, "What a wonderful experience it has been for me today, to be in this sacred place where so much of our heritage was enacted. We have a tremendous heritage, you and I. Even if you just came into the Church yesterday, you share in this heritage."
Elder Jensen spoke about the importance of remembering the history of the Church and how that history strengthens faith. He said the restoration of Church historical sites helps members remember.
"All of us, as we visit here, appreciate the reality of what happened more than we otherwise could," he said. "And I think all of us always come away with a renewed commitment to live more fully the principles of the restored gospel. As you visit the restored Grandin Building, for instance, and I hope you all will in the next day or two, I know you'll come away with a deeper conviction that the Book of Mormon came forth by the gift and power of God and that the book is true and that its teachings can guide our lives in today's world."
Elder Jensen also suggested that there will be further restoration of sites in the Palmyra area in the future.
Pres. Cook, who was just sustained as stake president the previous Sunday, spoke to the members of his stake saying: "It is my prayer that we won't just simply go from this meeting tonight and feel edified and strengthened, but that we will come back to these sites frequently, that we'll take advantage of them, and will go into the Sacred Grove and feel of the Spirit, go into the Grandin Building and give thanks to God for E.B. Grandin and his efforts and his work, and for the boy prophet Joseph."