Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Temple Lot is a two acre (8,000 m²) grassy field next to the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) in the center of Independence, Missouri. The name also refers to the original 63 acres (260,000 m²) purchased by Bishop Edward Partridge, which is now subdivided into property owned largely by the Community of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Church of Christ (Temple Lot).
History of the property
On August 3, 1831, Joseph Smith, Jr. and a small group of associates went to a knoll about a half-mile west of the Independence courthouse. Smith then indicated the specific spot where the temple was to stand, and placed a stone to mark the northeast corner. Due to frequent and often violent conflict with other residents, most Mormons were later driven from, or left Jackson County, Missouri in 1833, by and then the entire state of Missouri in 1838, and the property was abandoned.
In 1864, Granville Hedrick, an apostle in the Church of Christ still remaining in Illinois, received a revelation directing the church to return to Jackson County. About 60 people did so, and soon purchased eight lots which now comprise the Temple Lot property.
In 1891, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (as the Community of Christ was then known) sued the Church of Christ for the temple lot, and initially won, but lost on appeal in federal circuit court.
Attempts to build Temple
In 1929, the Church of Christ began building the temple, as directed by several reported revelations and visits by an angel, who told them at one point to "move the markers 10 feet east." The revelations described the temple's length as twice its width, at 90 by 180 feet, which concurred with the angel's description. When the church began excavating for the basement, workers found the stones buried by Joseph Smith, in line with the survey markers. This event was noted in the church newsletter, Zion's Advocate. These two stones are currently in the small museum in the Church of Christ, and their original position is marked by two other engraved stones, embedded visibly in the lot. The outer corners of the temple are presently marked by similar stones, for a total of six.
Two events kept the temple from being built: the church divided over the issue of rebaptism, and the Great Depression occurred. The excavation remained for many years, but was eventually filled in and replaced with a grassy field.
On 1 January 1990, a member of the church barricaded himself inside and set fire to the building, as a protest to prevailing church attitudes. While no one was injured, the building was destroyed, and the member spent several years in prison. It was the second time the building had been burned down, the first time occurring in the late 1800s. Another small fire on the Temple Lot in the early 1990s affected a large lone oak tree, which was removed.
The Articles of Faith and Practice for the church say that the temple will be built "in this generation", and that Zion is to be established here with the return of Jesus. While rebuilding after the fire, the church planted three trees within the boundaries marked for the temple, perhaps indicating that it might be a while yet before Jesus returns.
A small museum, accompanied by a narrator who will tell the story of the small church, is open during weekdays and admission is free.
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