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WILLARD RICHARDS’ HOME before it BECAME A HOTEL IN NAUVOO

The Apostle Willard Richards

The Apostle Willard Richards

A subscription has been got up to build a house for Elder Willard Richards, to which I subscribed a city lot… I hope the day is not far-distant when my clerk will have a comfortable house for his family.  – Joseph Smith

The History

On August 2, 1843 Joseph Smith called a meeting in the second floor of the Red Brick Store. The prophet referred to those invited as “well-trusted men and women.” Holding up a small notebook he opened it and read from the first page: “We the undersigned, knowing that Elder Willard Richards one of the Twelve who when not abroad among the nations preaching the Gospel is by special appointment of President Joseph Smith and this church is engaged in church business continually. He has no house to abide in and therefore we do mutually agree to furnish such materials, means or labor as may be necessary to build Elder Willard Richards a comfortable home.” Joseph Smith then put the notebook on the table and picked up his pen and wrote his contribution to the building of Dr. Richards a home – he subscribed one city lot. More than 150 people stepped forward and added their names and contributions to the notebook. Years before the Nauvoo Temple was completed, the home was built with charity for an Apostle of the Lord, and even as a hotel in Nauvoo this meaningful home has a very special feeling throughout.

Joseph later wrote in his journal of that night:

A subscription has been got up to build a house for Elder Willard Richards, to which I subscribed a city lot. The brethren subscribed $25 cash, 10 cords of stone, 30 bushels of lime, 105 days work, $59 in labor, 15,900 bricks, glass, lumber and other materials, together with a quantity of produce. I hope the day is not far-distant when my clerk will have a comfortable house for his family.” – Joseph Smith

Although a home was built for Elder Richards and he lived in it with his family until the saints left for Salt Lake Valley in February 1846 , the deed to the lot and home was never officially transferred into Elder Richards name. The lot actually remained recorded as owned by Joseph & Emma Smith jointly, and then became the sole property of Emma Smith after the death of Joseph. Willard Richards and his family lived in the home until he left with the Saints in February 1846. Emma, in desperate times eventually sold the home in December 1847 “to get up some money.”

We met every day, and sometimes more often at Dr. Richards home for prayer and council.  – Brigham Young

Elder Willard Richards’s home was the meeting place for Church leaders from the day it was completed. Joseph Smith spent countless hours, days and night working with Elder Richards at his home to complete the History of the Church and the Life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. After the death of the Prophet, Elder Richards’ home served as the headquarters of the Church until the rest of the Twelve returned and could get a place organized.

Willard Richards was among the original nine men who were in the Red Brick store when Joseph revealed for the first time the Temple Endowment ceremony and all the associated ordinances. He and Jennetta were sealed by Joseph Smith personally. This group of nine was by tradition often referred to as the Anointed Quorum. They met almost every day to pray and hold special council meetings. Since the Nauvoo Temple was not yet competed, most of the prayer meetings were held in the upper floor of Willard Richards home. The tradition of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meeting in the Salt Lake Temple every Thursday morning began in Willard Richards attic. Some meetings were also held in Brigham Young’s and John Taylor’s home. Hundreds of journal entries by many of the church leaders record the sacred events and meetings that took place at Dr. Richards’ home. Brigham Young recorded, “we met every day, and sometimes more often at Dr. Richards home for prayer and council.” Heber C. Kimball had over a hundred separate entries in his journal about the sacred prayer meetings and miracles experienced at Willard Richards home.

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