November 2, 2023

Independence Missouri Temple Lot

The Independence Temple Lot is located sourthwest of the intersection of Lexington Street and River Boulevard, near the Church of Christ Chapel. The Temple Lot is a half block northwest of the Latter-day Saint Visitors Center.

The Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation in Jackson County on July 20, 1831 that Independence is the "center place for Zion". Bishop Edward Partridge paid 130$ for the land from Johnson H. Flournoy who had only owned the land for seven days. Flournoy had purchased the land from the government when it had come available.

Originally the land was heavily timbered and the whole parcel of the Temple Lot forming a triangle is on the north and west side of Lexington Street, on the east by the line of Union Street, and the south by Pacific Avenue.

The highest elevation of the Temple Lot, which is one of the highest points in the county is 1,020 feet above sea level. This part of the Temple Lot is on the Church of Christ's portion.

Joseph Smith directed the dedication of the temple site on August 3, 1831. The day before in Kaw township in western Jackson County, Sidney Rigdon dedicated Missouri as the land of Zion.

At the Temple Lot in Independence Joseph Smith laid a stone at the corner of the Temple. The cornerstone, which was actually a corner marker, that was placed at the temple lot that day is now owned by the Church of Christ(a break-off of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The Church of Christ owns the 2.5 acre potion of the Temple Lot between Lexington Street and River Street. This is where the members of that church found the stone laid by Joseph Smith.

The City of Zion, the New Jerusalem was to be built around the temples on the Temple Lot, in the center of the city. Joseph Smith wrote the city was designed to be a mile square and hold "fifteen to twenty thousand people". The streets of the city were to be right angles, with half acre lots for houses, and gardens. Industrial and large agricultural pursuits were to be located outside of town. The people were to live in the city and enjoy the benefits of culture and refinement.

The master plan for the city of Zion was to have 24 temples! The Temples were to be used by the Church for a variety of different needs. The Saints in 1831 believed that Independence would only have one temple, on June 1833 a sketch of a master plan for the city with instructions to build 24 temples on two 15-acre blocks was sent from Kirtland, Ohio by the Prophet Joseph Smith to the brethren in Missouri. Joseph went on to send more sketches of what the temples would look like, and instruction for implementation. The 24 Temples were supposed to be the same architectural style, and design as the Kirtland Temple, but were to be larger.

The 24 Temples in Zion were to be used for administration, publication, education, worship and other religious needs.

In August 1833 the temple blog planning changed a little. In a letter dated August 6, 1833 from the Church presidency in Kirtland a revised draft of the master city plan showed the 24 temples, but this time the temples were on two ten acre blocks, and drawn on the map as little buildings, different from the previous plans. This new plan also named some of the streets like Jerusalem Street, Zion Street, and Bethlehem Street.

The first of the twenty-four temples was to be constructed quickly and be used as a meetinghouse, and also as a "School in Zion" for the elders. Most of the meetings at this time were held outdoors or in log schoolhouses. The second temple was to be used by "the Presidency" and the third was for "the printing" needs of the Church. This is similar to the three "houses" the Lord commanded to be built in Kirtland, but the last two temples were never built in Kirtland.

The Temple endowment had not been revealed yet to the Prophet Joseph Smith, so the purpose of temple at that time would have been different then the way we think of Latter-day Saint Temples today.

In 1841 in Nauvoo Illinois the Lord withdrew the timeline for the early intended construction of the temple in Zion because of the persecution of the Saints in Missouri. In Doctrine and Covenants 124:49-54 they "had been hindered by the hands of their enemies and by oppression." Therefore heaven required that they "work no more" for them. Even though the early Saints could not build a temple in Jackson County the Lord told Brigham Young at Winter Quarters Nebraska in 1847 "Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time." (D&C 136:18)

Selling the Far West Temple Lot

Bishop Partridge held the title to the Temple Lot for the Church, and his estate retained the title of the property after the death of Bishop Patridge in 1840. The heirs of Bishop Patridge sold their claim to the temple lot for 300$ to James Pool on May 5, 1848.

Brigham Young had given the Partridge family permission to sell the Temple Lot, to get their family to Utah. The family being poor, needed help financially to get to the Rocky Mountains. In a council meeting at Winter Quarters in 1848, President Young decided to use the proceeds from the sale of the Temple Lot to get the family on their journey. "My object[for having them sell the Temple Lot] is to get the old lady [Lydia Partridge] over the mountains" to the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham said. The apostles attending the council meeting were Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, and Heber C. Kimball, and all agreed to the sale.

One of the daughters of Bishop Partridge, Emily, was a plural wife to Brigham Young. Emily later said "We made no claim to it as being our property, for we supposed all the time it was church property."

References:

"Sacred Places, Missouri" by LaMar C. Berrett and Max Parkin p. 19-28

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