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News Story —  8 June 2011

Summer Travel Series: Palmyra, New York, Surrounded by History

Background

Packed into several communities in and around Palmyra, a quiet village of nearly 3,500 people in upstate New York, are well-defined religious historic sites, which are also a part of American history.

To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the area surrounding Palmyra has significance few other areas have. It is where a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith, serious about following God’s teachings, found a quiet spot in a grove of trees near his home and prayed for answers to many of the perplexing spiritual questions of 1820. It was there Latter-day Saints believe God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the young Joseph. That experience was the humble beginning of a worldwide religion that dots the globe with more than 14 million members.

 

The Church has preserved several areas where Joseph Smith lived, worked and taught the gospel. People from every walk of life have enjoyed visiting and learning about the Sacred Grove, Hill Cumorah, the Smith farm and reconstructed Smith family log house, the Grandin Building and the nearby town of Fayette, where the Church was organized in 1830. There is free admission to each of the historic sites, and all sites are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. In addition to these sites, visitors tour the beautiful grounds of the Palmyra New York Temple, which was completed in 2000.

The missionaries who staff the Church sites have become active volunteers in the community, according to Palmyra Mayor Vicky Daly. “Their assistance is invaluable in Historic Palmyra. The Church’s museums have been recognized repeatedly for their excellence by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, a subset of the National Park Service,” she said.

What to See and Do

Grandin Building

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On Main Street in Palmyra Village traveling from Highway 31 is the Grandin Building, the office where the first copies of the Book of Mormon were published in 1830. Inside the building, at 217 East Main on the third floor, visitors can see how the publishing office was set up for printing what Latter-day Saints consider a sacred book of scripture. Available to see are a printing press similar to the one on which the book was printed, printer’s tools, sheets of manuscript and books.

The Grandin Building has been an interesting place for people to visit. One person said, “It is incredible to see how intricate the process was just to make one Book of Mormon.” Free tours are available year-round.

Address

217 East Main Street

Palmyra, New York 14522

315-597-5982 (Main)

 VCHCumorah@ldschurch.org

Directions to the Grandin Building

Schedule

Summer: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Winter: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. 

 

Smith Farm and Log House

One visitor to the Smith farm and the reconstructed family log house south of Palmyra Village described the area as “beautiful and peaceful.” The Smith family first lived in the log house, located on the Palmyra-Manchester township line, before building a larger frame home nearby. The log house is a representation of what the Smith home looked like in the 1800s. Free tours of both homes are conducted daily.

Address

843 Stafford Road

Palmyra, New York 14522

315-597-4383 (Main)

 VCHCumorah@ldschurch.org

Directions to the Smith Family Farm

Schedule

Summer: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Winter: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. 

 

Sacred Grove

From the Smith log house the Sacred Grove is a short walk to the west. Among the serenity and beauty of nature, visitors may recall how Joseph Smith prayed and saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in vision. The experience in the grove will be one of peaceful meditation and reflection as to the significant event that took place 191 years ago.

This site is like no other because of the event that occurred here. Latter-day Saints and people of other faiths have felt a special reverence for the Sacred Grove and find this to be the highlight of their visit. As in all the sites, admission is free.

Address

843 Stafford Road

Palmyra, New York 14522

315-597-5851 (Main)

 VCHCumorah@ldschurch.org

Directions to the Sacred Grove

Schedule

Summer: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Winter: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. 

 

Hill Cumorah

The Hill Cumorah is located on State Road 21 just four miles south of Palmyra’s Main Street. A visitors’ center stands at the base of the hill, where visitors may learn more about this significant historic site. Hill Cumorah is where Joseph Smith was directed to receive golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated and later printed at the Grandin Building.

“There's so much more here to see and do than we expected,” explained a visitor to the site. In addition to the visitors’ center, tourists can take a short walk on a paved sidewalk to the top of the hill and enjoy a breathtaking view of the area. A monument in honor of the Prophet Joseph receiving the golden plates stands on top of the hill. Free tours are available.

Each year in July, the Church presents the Hill Cumorah Pageant, a theatrical performance of how the golden plates were buried in the hill by an ancient prophet named Moroni and how Joseph Smith received them in 1827 from the angel Moroni, the same ancient prophet. The plates convey the history of early inhabitants in North America and an account of Jesus Christ’s visit to them.

The pageant is not just a Mormon affair; it involves the entire community. Food concessions are run by local service clubs. Mayor Daly has participated in the past and will again work the pageant with her husband.

“Everyone is a volunteer,” said Mayor Daly. “All the profits go back to the participating five service clubs for good works in the community: libraries, day care, food pantry, scholarships, etc. Our club, the Palmyra-Macedon Rotary, earns about $9,000 each year from this effort and all the money goes back into the community.”

Address

653 State Route 21

Palmyra, New York 14522

315-597-5851 (Main)

VCHCumorah@ldschurch.org

Directions to the Hill Cumorah

Schedule

Open 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Hill Cumorah Pageant

July 8-9 and 12-16, 2011

 

Palmyra New York Temple

Just east of the Smith family home is the Palmyra New York Temple, completed and dedicated in 2000. It is the 77th temple of 134 temples in operation in the world. While Latter-day Saint temples are not open to the public, visitors may walk around the temple grounds and experience the beauty that surrounds it. There is no charge to visit the grounds.

Address

2720 Temple Road

Palmyra, New York 14522

315-597-6001 (Main)

Directions to the temple

 

Fayette

In the 1820s, interest grew in the young church not only locally but also outside the Palmyra area. On 6 April 1830, in the Peter Whitmer log home in a nearby town formerly known as Fayette, Joseph Smith formally organized the Church. From the six original members, the Church has grown throughout the world. There are now more Latter-day Saints living outside of the United States than inside.

One visitor remarked, “You can really gain a greater appreciation for the Church today.” There are free tours at the Peter Whitmer home as well as next door at a modern meetinghouse where there are exhibits about the organization of the Church and other noteworthy events that occurred on the site.

Address

1451 Aunkst Road

Waterloo, New York 13165

315-539-2552 (Main)

VCHCumorah@ldschurch.org

Directions to the Peter Whitmer Home

Schedule

Summer: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Winter: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Style Guide Note: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online style guide.

 
 
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