The Prophet Joseph Smith’s Red Brick Store


The Red Brick Store, also known as the General Store stands on the south side of Water Street near Granger Street in Nauvoo, Illinois and constructed in 1841. It was probably the most important in the life of the community. On December 22, 1841, the first supplies arrived by wagon from Warsaw, including sugar, molasses, glass, salt, tea, coffee, and other supplies purchased in St. Louis. Smith began opening, unpacking, and sorting dry goods on the second floor while workers were still busy completing the first floor of the building. The building was opened to the public for the first time on January 5, 1842.

The red brick store was named not because of the red brick exterior but because of the red color paint inside the store. This color was created by mixing ox blood with buttermilk! When the store was being rebuilt, the original key to the front door of the store was discovered during excavation and a new lock was specially made to fit the original key.

The first floor, the principal part of the building, was ten feet high and devoted exclusively to shelves and drawers, except one door opening back into the space, on the left of which were the cellar and chamber stairs, and on the right the counting room; from the space at the top of the chamber stairs opened a door into the large front room of the same size with the one below, the walls lined with counters, covered with reserved goods.
** At one time, Bishop Newel K. Whitney had an office on the ground floor and lived there for a short time.

At the top of the stairs, a door opened to Joseph's private office, where he keep the sacred writings, with a window to the south, overlooking the river below, and the opposite shore for a great distance.

The Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store, not only serving as a general store. since no banks existing in Nauvoo, the Red Brick Store also made loans, city lots were sold through the Prophet, and the collections for the building of the Nauvoo Temple took place here. It also became the center of social, economic, political, and religious activities. Before the temple was completed, Joseph used the second floor of the store as his office, headquarters of the Church, and as a meeting room.
The walls of the second level of the Red Brick Store were painted with garden-themed murals, the rooms fitted with carpets, potted plants, and a veil hung from the ceiling.

The building was demolished in 1890. The Community of Christ reconstructed the Red Brick Store on its original site in the 1978-1979 and opened it to visitors in 1980. The Red Brick Store is still owned and maintained by the Community of Christ.

Significant Events:
On 17 March 1842, the Prophet Joseph organized the women of the Church into the Relief Society.
The Red Brick Store was where Joseph Smith worked on the translation of the Book of Abraham
first endowments administered here on May 4, 1843 The famous "Wentworth Letter" was written here, which contained a brief account of the history of the Church, and the Articles of Faith.
Joseph met frequently with the Apostles to prepare them to lead the Church when he was gone.

Every effort has been made to ensure the above data is accurate. Due to the ongoing nature of genealogical research on the internet, all data must be considered a work in progress and as a secondary source of information. Additions and / or corrections are always appreciated.

Copyright 2007 Judi Gilker; all rights reserved.