The historic Clark Store, at the corner of Knight and Bluff streets, has been restored and modified to house the new center which is adjacent to the Church’s Nauvoo temple.
The Clark Store was built by Raymond and Louisa Clark in 1844. Early converts to the Church, the couple built the two-story brick home and used the top floor as their home. The rest was used as a mercantile store, offering extra income for the Clark family and providing another shopping opportunity for residents on the Nauvoo bluff.
The Clarks sold the home and store in 1846 and left never to see “Nauvoo, the Beautiful” again. For a number of years, the building was used as a hotel and a boarding house but then it was abandoned. The Church purchased the property in the 1970s and carefully preserved it. Since then the home has been used as a house, visitors’ center for the Nauvoo temple and now as the FamilySearch Center.
Joy Price is serving as a FamilySearch Center missionary with her husband Merlin. She is a third great granddaughter of Raymond Clark who built the structure. “It’s humbling to me to be here,” said Price, “where they (the Clarks) sacrificed so much, and to walk where they walked.” When she is in the home and reflecting on her ancestors who built it she thinks of the couple’s three children playing. The Prices are living in the upstairs part of the new center right where the Clarks called home. While the interior of the home is modernized for today’s living standards, the exterior of the building is much the same as it was in the 1800s including several other historic structures in the city of approximately 1,000 people.
Nauvoo’s mayor, John McCarty, participated in opening the center by cutting the ribbon and receiving a copy of his family’s genealogy stretching back eight generations in Nauvoo. It was noted that George Bratz, a Swiss emigrant in 1846 and part of the McCarty family also served as the mayor of Nauvoo.
The center features 16 high speed computers that are dedicated for the use of those who wish to discover records of their ancestors. This service is free to the public and includes access to FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, Fold3.com and Findmypast.co.uk and other useful related genealogical search websites.
The Church has 4,600 centers around the world, all of which are branches of the world’s largest Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Local publication The Hawk Eye covered the FamilySearch Center opening.