NAUVOO, Ill. In the first two weeks of the public open house for the new Nauvoo Illinois Temple, the flow of visitors has been steady but manageable, according to Marilyn Snow of Church Public Affairs in Nauvoo.
Temple Department figures placed the total visitors at 50,111 as of May 13; by the next day, that number would exceed 52,000, Sister Snow estimated. Visitors have included U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa and the entire First Presidency of the Community of Christ Church (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).
Admission to the temple tours, which start with an exhibit and a specially produced film in the adjacent Joseph Smith Academy Building, is free. But tickets are required, and some are still available via the Church's Internet site, www.lds.org or by calling the toll-free line, 1-800-537-6719. Visitors during the first two weeks have mainly been local residents.
Business in Nauvoo, a city of about 1,100 residents, has been booming despite news reports to the contrary, Sister Snow said. She hopes visitors will keep in mind Church leaders' encouragement that they be patient, courteous and respectful as they visit Nauvoo for the temple open house, which extends through June 22, followed by 13 dedicatory sessions June 27-30.
Sister Snow said she had been informed that visitation is also up at the sites owned by the Community of Christ Church, including the Joseph Smith homestead, Mansion House and the Smith family cemetery where the graves of Joseph, Emma and Hyrum Smith are located.
Comments from visitors to the temple have been glowing. Here is a sampling:
"Awesome. It was obvious it was a very dedicated effort to make every detail as perfect as it is."
Chuck Scholz, mayor of neighboring Quincy, Ill.
"I think it's awesome. As an alumna of St. Mary's [the former Catholic School that is now the Joseph Smith Academy] I'm glad to see what has happened here."
Mary Jo Scheetz, Nauvoo.
"Very impressive. I think it's going to mean a tremendous amount of increased I hate to use the word 'tourism' but an influx of people coming in."
Illinois State Rep. Rich Myers of Colchester. Ill.
"The craftsmanship is truly phenomenal. What we have in Keokuk is beautiful. . . but this is brand new."
David Gudgel, Keokuk, Iowa, mayor.