The Mansion House is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Nauvoo. It is owned by the Community of Christ Church, and if you would like to tour the Mansion house tickets are available for sale in the Red Brick Store, for 5$ a person.
The Mansion House was built as a residence for Joseph Smith and his family. Joseph Smith moved into the Mansion House on August 31, 1843. At one time there was a large addition to the home, which acted as a hotel, but was demolished in 1890.
Joseph Smith intended the Mansion House to be a Hotel for people passing through the area, but was not able to keep up with the responsibilities of managing the hotel and leased the Mansion House to Ebenezer Robinson for 1,000$ a year. Joseph Smith kept three rooms for his family. Only the home has been restored, and there has been some archaeological digging on the hotel portion of the area.
There were many important visitors who stayed in the Mansion House both when the prophet Joseph Smith was alive and after he passed away. While the prophet was alive the mayor of Boston, Josiah Quincy visited Joseph Smith at the Mansion House. The prophet showed Josiah Quincy the mummies of the Pear of Great Price, in the Mansion House. Josiah Quincy later wrote the book "Figures of the Past" published in 1883 and said the prophet Joseph Smith was "a phenomenon to be explained for having exerted a 'wonderful influence'".
Mansion House After the Death of the Prophet
After the Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were displayed in the Mansion House. Over 10,000 people came through the Mansion house to view the remains of the prophet and his brother.
Joseph F. Smith, the son of Hyrum Smith and the sixth prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, while standing in the Mansion House: "In this room the bodies of the martyrs lay in their coffins, after they had been brought from Carthage and dressed for burial. I remember my mother lifting me up to look upon the faces of my father and the Prophet, for the last time." ("In their own words", Susan Easton Black p. 84)
The death masks of Joseph Smith and Hyrum were made in the Mansion House, by George Cannon. The masks were owned by the Wood Foundation, Wilford C. Wood and his wife Lillian and were donated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1964.
The Community of Christ Church also displayed the remains of Joseph and Hyrum again in 1928 in the Mansion House, when they unearthed the bodies over worries of the rising Mississippi River.
More Nauvoo Sites
Things to do in Nauvoo Illinois for a full list of sites and activities in Nauvoo.
References: “Sacred Places Ohio and Illinois, a comprehensive guide to early LDS historical Site.” By LaMar C. Berrett General Editor, Keith W. Perkins and Donald Q. Cannon. p 135