History of the Nauvoo House

“And let the name of that house be called ‘Nauvoo House; and let it be a delightful habitation for many and a resting place for the weary traveler, that he might contemplate the glory of Zion… “

The original Nauvoo House in Nauvoo, Ill., was built as a hotel for weary travelers. It is now a historical monument and contains relics of Joseph Smith’s life. Text of News Article – date September 7, 1999

Rexburg Nauvoo House Invites the Pioneer Spirit
By Tiffany Thackeray
Scroll Staff

The Nauvoo House, a new women’s housing unit, was designed to capture the spirit of the original Nauvoo House in Illinois, businessman Dave Beckstrand said.

Beckstrand first thought of the idea while driving through Rexburg. He said he felt inspired to build a Nauvoo Housing complex for Ricks College. Beckstrand is a 46-year-old business executive who has never previously invested in real estate.

Beckstrand is personally helping with the construction on the housing complex. He can often be found working on shower faucets and many other odds and ends.

The Nauvoo House is furnished with pictures of various temples hung in every bedroom and pictures of the Savior in every living room. In the lobby hangs several different monuments of Nauvoo history and statues that dedicate the building to Joseph and Emma Smith. It’s specifically designed for meditation and contemplation, Beckstrand said.

The original Nauvoo House was approved to be built in 1841 along with the Nauvoo Temple. Joseph Smith received revelation to build the Nauvoo House “to erect and furnish a public house of entertainment to be called the Nauvoo House.” This structure was to be used as a hotel where people could rest from their travels and, at the same time, contemplate the glory of Zion.

The building of the old Nauvoo House was considered almost as important as the completion of the Nauvoo Temple to the saints, though the former was never completed. Construction was halted in 1843 because of lack of time, money and resources. The walls were built only to the level of the second floor. However, the Nauvoo House in Rexburg is scheduled to be completed soon.

The construction for the third building is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, which will accommodate 108 more girls, for a grand total of a 288 person occupancy. On Jan. 1, Beckstrand will be holding a dedication to the completed Nauvoo House. Next fall he plans to add another complex for men’s housing.

Commission of a lifetime
Story and Photos by Jamy Corbett

For Jacki Allred of Garland the commission of sculpting life size busts of Joseph and Emma Smith is the opportunity of a life time.

The developer of a new private apartment complex at Ricks Junior College in Rexburg, Idaho, commissioned the statues for his Nauvoo House development. Ricks College is owned by the LDS Church. The development will include a clubhouse and apartments which on the outside resemble the Nauvoo House in Illinois.

The original Nauvoo House was a hotel or a “place for the weary traveler.”

Dave Beckstrand, the developer, said he wanted the complex to have a spiritual atmosphere. There will be a lounge in the clubhouse where the busts of Joseph and Emma will be placed.

“It will be the nicest place of any campus to live,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of it when I heard his whole goal.”

Beckstrand met Allred when they both lived in New York and thought of her when he decided he wanted the statues.

Allred said the commission of the statues came as a surprise. She has sculpted an African and Hawaiian woman for the LDS Relief Society, the women’s organization of the church.

Although, she has been sculpting for nine years she has never been asked to recreate a specific individual much less someone of religious historical significance.

In January, she began by researching Emma and Joseph and discovered more than she imagined. She had always though of Emma as a small woman.

However, she found Emma was actually 5′ 9″ tall, loved horses and her curls were not real. They were attached by combs.

The statue of Emma includes the combs holding her curls and the necklace Joseph gave her that she always wore.

Allred met with Gracia Jones, the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Smith. She also met Jones’ daughter, Joy, who bears a striking resemblance to Emma Smith.

Allred was able to obtain a copy of the mask to aid her in sculpting.

“When I got into this I didn’t know there was so much controversy,” she said.

However, in the past there has been debate as to whether the mask was authentic and accurate. A new book by Ephraim Hatch uses scientific evidence to prove the mask is authentic.

“The death mask is extremely accurate,” she said. “Other artists didn’t have the knowledge of knowing that and have compensated.”

This is why, she said, paintings, drawings and sculptures of Joseph Smith all vary. Allred was at first apprehensive about following the death mask exactly or making the Joseph statue look like others already done.

However, she chose to create Joseph’s features to coincide with the death mask.

Allred made life-size busts of both Joseph and Emma and also made smaller busts of the two. She will keep a copy of the smaller statues saying she can’t even afford her own work.

The most nerve wracking part of the whole process was transporting the busts to be bronzed. Allred and her husband took them to Salt Lake in June and they will be finished in August when the student housing will be dedicated.

For Allred, who met her husband at Ricks, this has been a special project. Along with the statues she also has picked the paint, carpet and other colors for the lounge where her works will be placed.

Along with her sculpting, Allred teaches and consults at Utah State University.

Women’s apartments dedicated
By Jade Janes
Scroll Staff

The dedication of an off-campus women’s housing complex culminated months of construction and miracles.

Nauvoo House was dedicated Friday by owner David Beckstrand. Nauvoo House contributors and residents attended the dedication. Ricks College President David A. Bednar and his wife Susan also attended.

“I loved it [the dedication]. It just felt so good,” Gaillyn Jorgensen, a freshman from Soda Springs, Idaho, said. Jorgensen decided to live at Nauvoo House because the name attracted her attention.

During the dedication, Beckstrand gave a history of the original Nauvoo House in Nauvoo, Illinois. It was intended to be a “hotel-like facility for strangers” pondering the Nauvoo Temple and was constructed in 1841, Beckstrand said.

Construction of the original Nauvoo House was abandoned to complete the temple. The building is now owned by Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The architecture of the housing complex is similar to the original building, Beckstrand said. The complex is 60,000 square feet of block and brick construction.

“When Dave first mentioned building an apartment complex, I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Beckstrand’s wife Joy said to the crowd of approximately 50 people at the dedication.

Beckstrand’s son-in-law Jared Sommer was the general contractor and manager. Sommer and his wife Katie are Nauvoo House managers.

Jacki Allred, from Garland, Utah, spoke during the dedication. Allred is the sculptor, artist and interior designer for Nauvoo House.

Allred sculpted busts of Joseph and Emma Smith to be displayed at Nauvoo House.

Since she was doing the job, she wanted to do it right. “I wanted so much to be accurate in the things I could be accurate,” Allred said. She used a book by Ephraim Hatch describing the search for the likeness of Joseph, and she interviewed Gracia Jones, a great-great-grand-daughter of Joseph and Emma.

The life-sized sculptures contain such details as the fake curls Emma wore and receding hairline of Joseph. “All these things I thought I would never learn about,” Allred said.

Allred named the sculptures “And Emma Smiled” and “Because Joseph Prayed.” The Smith’s were described as always happy, so she sculpted them smiling. “(Joseph) knew who he was and he knew the plan. If we knew the plan we’d smile, too,” Allred said.

Allred’s job ranged from painting and sculpting to picking curtains and carpeting. “At no time, I am happy to say, did I ever do less than my best,” Allred said.

Previously, Allred had worked at Utah State University on campus planning and enhancements. She said Nauvoo House was the most remarkable project she had worked on.

“There have been so many miracles here,” Allred said.

As she was painting the south wall in the Joseph and Emma Smith Memorial Room, the only thing she could picture was the Nauvoo Temple. However, she was supposed to paint Nauvoo House.

The night before the picture had to be finished, Allred prayed, “If I’m supposed to do this, then let me see it.”

The next day, it was as though someone was moving her arm, she said. “I almost felt like saying, ‘Whoever did this, say your name, because it wasn’t me,’” Allred said.

Allred said she hopes the decorations will be a tool to the girls living at Nauvoo House. “Even the small little items were chosen for touchstones and memories.”