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60 historically inspired housing units in Nauvoo

NAUVOO, Ill. — John and Carol Jarman, newly called Nauvoo Illinois Temple missionaries, unpacked their moving boxes April 12, as contractors and temple officials inspected and approved the fast-track construction project that provides 60 historically inspired housing units for temple workers.

Recently built structures of "Nauvoo Red" brick blend in with restored buildings.
Recently built structures of "Nauvoo Red" brick blend in with restored buildings. Photo: Photo courtesy Nauvoo Restoration Inc.

The apartments, fashioned after sites in historic Nauvoo, replicate the Federalist architectural lines of the Brigham Young, Sylvester Stoddard or John Taylor homes, and feature gable ends, stacked chimneys and a rustic brick now known as Nauvoo Red. "We matched the brick as closely as possible to the existing buildings," reported Dennis Van Leeuween, supervisor with Richardson/VanLeeuwen Construction, the project's Salt Lake City-based general contractor. "We even took mortar samples so the overall look would be as close as possible."

Conceptualized by the Church Temple Department and designed by Richardson Design Partnership, Salt Lake City, the housing plan contains single family units as well as two, three, and four-unit buildings. Each unit is strategically placed in the historic area. "Care was taken not to disturb sites that represent architectural remnants of old Nauvoo," explained Robert Reeve, area director in the Temple Department. Varied building size helps the project achieve a minimal impact on the historic area and the present-day city of Nauvoo.

Although the apartments' exteriors exhibit historical details — such as unpaved driveways and walks, and a limestone lintel that is suggestive of, but not identical to, the temple stone — the interior construction features modern appliances and an energy efficient design, including air conditioning and double pane windows. Furnishings, however, reflect the historic period with richly colored upholstered pieces in linens, printed cottons, needlework and leather, while the hardwood case pieces carry walnut and mahogany finishes. Historically documented color selections such as antique white and burnished umber cover the walls and window casings.

Newly constructed apartments for temple workers follow same lines as buildings in historic Nauvoo. The new buildings do not disturb sites representing architectural remnants of old Nauvoo.
Newly constructed apartments for temple workers follow same lines as buildings in historic Nauvoo. The new buildings do not disturb sites representing architectural remnants of old Nauvoo. Photo: Photo courtesy Nauvoo Restoration Inc.

A unique construction method facilitated the fast-track schedule assigned to the apartment project, according to Vern Hancock, a director in the Temple Construction Department. "The 60 units were panelized, partially built in Salt Lake City, then shipped to Nauvoo." Such a process enabled the architects and contractors to move from the initial design phase at the end of June 2001, to groundbreaking in mid-August and completion of all units, some 53,000 total square feet of living space, by mid-April 2002.

Even with the efficient process, Brother Reeve noted there were no compromises in construction quality. "The workmanship here is more like the expectation in temple construction, not what you'd expect in a regular construction project."

The accommodations surprised the Jarmans, who recently completed a temple mission to the Philippines. "The furniture is so comfortable, especially compared to our previous apartment in Manila," suggested Elder Jarman. "Everything here is so lovely," Sister Jarman added, "but I did bring my own rice cooker. It wasn't on the standard list of household items provided."

Calls for experienced temple ordinance workers to serve at the Nauvoo Temple provide support to the local temple district. "The six-month missionary calls augment the local base of ordinance workers," Brother Reeve explained. "The Nauvoo Temple district is geographically widespread, making it difficult to supply a core close by to support the needs of the temple. We anticipate a swell in attendance during the tourist period; thus the reason for the seasonal missionaries. They will support the local members in the operation of the temple while a base of nearby workers is built."

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