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City of Nauvoo
The newly-rebuilt Nauvoo LDS Temple.
Country United States
State Illinois
County Hancock
Elevation 670 ft (204.2 m)
Coordinates 40°32′40″N 91°22′49″W / 40.54444°N 91.38028°W / 40.54444; -91.38028
Area 4.8 sq mi (12.43 km2)
 - land 3.4 sq mi (9 km2)
 - water 1.4 sq mi (4 km2), 29.17%
Population 1,063 (2000)
Density 314.4 /sq mi (121.4 /km2)
Mayor John McCarty
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 62354
Area code 217
Location of Nauvoo within Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States
There is also a Nauvoo, Alabama, and a Nauvoo, Pennsylvania

Nauvoo (Hebrew: נָאווּ, Modern Nåvu Tiberian Nâwû ; “to be beautiful”) is a small city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. Although the current population is just 1,063 (2000 census), and it is difficult to reach over secondary highways in a remote corner of Illinois, Nauvoo attracts large numbers of visitors for its historic importance and its religious significance to members of both the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), other groups stemming from the Latter Day Saint movement, and groups such as the Icarians. The city and its immediate surrounding area are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Nauvoo Historic District.

The city was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saints, and named by him from the traditional Hebrew language with an anglicized spelling. The word comes from Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains...” It is notable that “by 1844 Nauvoo's population had swollen to 12,000, rivaling the size of Chicago.”[1]


Nauvoo is located at 40°32′40″N 91°22′49″W / 40.54444°N 91.38028°W / 40.54444; -91.38028 (40.544567, -91.380317).[2] Situated on a wide bend in the Mississippi River, Nauvoo has most of the historic district in the lower flat lands (called the flats) that are no more than a few feet above the water line. A prominent hill rises as one moves further east, at the apex of which stands the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple. Beginning with the temple, this elevated land (called the hill) continues flat for many miles eastward.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 4.8 square miles (12.5 km²). 3.4 square miles (8.8 km²) of it is land and 1.4 square miles (3.7 km²) of it (29.88%) is water.

Government and politics

Nauvoo City government consists of the Mayor, six aldermen (two from each ward), and City Treasurer. Additionally, there are appointed positions for City Clerk, Marshall, and Public Works positions. As of 2007, the mayor is John McCarty. The aldermen are Gene Shurtz, Dave Koechle, Dan Hahl, Lee Ourth, Pam Knowles, and Kory Krause. Recently elected aldermen but not yet in office: Paul Grimshaw and James Boyles.

Separate from the city are the Nauvoo Fire Protection District and Nauvoo-Colusa School System.

The Nauvoo FPD covers all of the city plus the surrounding five townships. The fire department currently provides both fire and EMS coverage for its district. In 1991, the Nauvoo Fire Protection District became a BLS non-transporting agency relying on the county ambulance service to provide transporting of patients to local hospitals. Recently, because of longer response times from county-run ambulances, the citizens of the Nauvoo FPD passed a referendum by 74% on April 17, 2007, for ambulance services that would transfer the ambulance tax money to the FPD that was being paid to the county. The Nauvoo FPD completed their fund raising efforts on November 30, 2007, to purchase its ambulance. The Nauvoo Ambulance went into service in January 2008.

The Nauvoo-Colusa school system runs the local elementary and combined middle/high schools. School Board members are: James Boyles, Randy Douglas, Anthony Knipe, Terry Knoke, John Schwan, Lane Sinele, and Michele Snyder. A referendum in Feb 2008 was passed allowing Nauvoo-Colusa and Warsaw Junior and Senior High Schools to merge. Junior High for both systems will be in Nauvoo and the Senior High will be in Warsaw beginning in 2008.

Recently, the newly co-oped West Hancock (Hamilton, Warsaw, Nauvoo-Colusa) Girls basketball team took first place in the IHSA Class 2A Championship. It is the first year of the co-op basketball team, and their first championship.


Nauvoo today

On the city's higher ground are the temple, residential areas, and the business district along Mulholland Street (Illinois route 96), much of it devoted to the needs of tourists and those interested in Latter Day Saint history. The flatlands are occupied by a small number of 19th century brick houses and other buildings that have survived the city's vicissitudes, with large empty spaces between them where houses and whole neighborhoods have entirely disappeared.

The Community of Christ, of which Joseph Smith III, son of church founder Joseph Smith, Jr., was Prophet–President for many years, owns much of the southern end of the flatlands, and maintains several key historic sites located in and around Nauvoo. These sites include the Joseph Smith Homestead, the Nauvoo House, the Red Brick Store, the Mansion House, and the Smith family cemetery overlooking the Mississippi River that is the final resting place of Joseph Smith, Jr., his wife Emma, and his brother Hyrum. Guided tours are available at the church's Joseph Smith Historic Site, located at the south end of the town and accessible from Highway 96.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) owns most of the other historic sites in Nauvoo, including the homes of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and other early members of the church, as well as other significant buildings. Most of these sites are open to the public, with demonstrations and displays, and there are self-guided driving tours as well as wagon tours. These tours are free, as are the stage and riverside theatrical productions. There is a large visitors center complete with two theaters and a relief map of 1846 Nauvoo.

In June 2002, on the site of the original temple, the church completed construction of a new temple. The exterior, and much of the interior, is a copy of the original. The exterior matches the original exactly except in three ways: The temple was positioned 12.5 feet (3.8 m) south to allow for parking on the north side, there are two new exterior doors (with an entrance on the north for disabled persons and emergency exits in the basement on the east) and there is a standing Angel Moroni as is seen on most modern temples; the original was an unspecified flying angel in a horizontal position with the compass, square and flame above.[3]

The rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple was an occasion of great joy and enthusiasm for LDS Church members, and some 350,000 people, church members and nonmembers alike, toured the temple between its completion and dedication. Following LDS Church custom, the temple itself is now not open to visitors.

In comparison to other towns in the area, Nauvoo has seen consistent population growth since the completion of the temple.


Nauvoo House during 2008 Flood

The work to renovate various sites of historical significance in the area are coordinated by Nauvoo Restoration, Incorporated. NRI is a nonprofit organization supported by both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ, as well as others interested in Nauvoo's history. Due to the work of NRI and its members, Nauvoo has been dubbed the “Williamsburg of the Midwest.” In March 2007, Nauvoo was nominated to compete as one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.[4] Due to voting irregularities Nauvoo did not proceed into the final round of voting.

Nauvoo sponsors numerous activities throughout the year including The Nauvoo Pageant (July/August) and Pumpkin walk (October).

Because most of the city is well above flood level, Nauvoo has not historically had problems when the Mississippi river has risen. In both the floods of 1993 and 2008, very little damage happened within the city limits.

Recent efforts are underway by members of the LDS Church to form Nauvoo University, stating at their web site that it is a reorganization and reincorporation as a non-profit corporation of the former University of the City of Nauvoo, established in 1840.[5] Currently they are attempting to raise enough contributions to begin the Fall 2009 semester.

Nauvoo has many places of worship, including; Methodist Church, Christ Lutheran Church, St Peter & Paul Church, Nauvoo Baptist Church and various Wards of the LDS Church.[6]


As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 1,063 people, 403 households, and 276 families residing in the city. It should be noted that these numbers do not reflect an accurate population since missionaries, who account for between 150 and 600 additional residents depending on the season of the year, are not counted in census records, as their permanent homes are in other cities. The population density was 314.4 people per square mile (121.4/km²). There were 458 housing units at an average density of 135.4/sq mi (52.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.08% White, 0.28% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.94% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.60% of the population.

There were 403 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.3% were married couples living together, 6.9% have a female householder with no husband present and 31.3% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 21.9% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 23.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 88.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,519, and the median income for a family was $49,167. Males had a median income of $37,895 versus $24,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,150. About 5.6% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 18.2% of those age 65 or over.

Commerce and Industry

The Nauvoo Blue Cheese company started producing cheese in the 1930s. It was discovered that the cool, moist wine cellars in the area were ideal for aging cheese. The wine cellars, and the wine making business originally started by the Icarians, saw a decline in use because of prohibition. In 2003 the Nauvoo Cheese company went out of business when it was purchased by a large food company and relocated to other facilities.

Nauvoo is also home to Baxter's Vineyards, a small family-owned winery begun in 1857 by Emile Baxter, making it Illinois' oldest established winery.[8][9][10]

See also



  • Allen, James B. and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1976. ISBN 0-87747-594-6
  • Arrington, Leonard J & Davis Bitton (March 1, 1992), written at Urbana, Illinois, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (2 ed.), University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0252062361
  • Brooks, Juanita (1962), written at Glendale, California, John Doyle Lee, Zealot, Pioneer, Builder, Scapegoat, Arthur H. Clark Co.
  • Flanders, Robert Bruce (1965), written at Urbana, Illinois, Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi, University of Illinois Press
  • Ford, Thomas (1860, Reprinted 1995), A History of Illinois: From Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847, University of Illinois Press
  • Hallwas, John F & Roger D Launius (1995), written at Logan, Utah, Cultures in Conflict, A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois, Utah State University Press
  • Linn, William A (1902), written at New York, The Story of the Mormons: From The Date of their Origin to the Year 1901, Macmillan
  • Quinn, D. Michael (December 1994), written at Salt Lake City, Utah, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books, ISBN 1560850566

External links

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