Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Buildings with a Saintly past in Lamoni

More postcards from the Lucas County Historical Society collection this morning, chosen in part because they reminded me of a minor amusement when I was a kid --- waiting for new weather and news personnel at the Des Moines television stations to mispronounce "Lamoni," Lucas county's neighbor to the southwest in Decatur.

Lamoni was a minor king mentioned in the Book of Mormon --- and that should tell you something about this small town's origin if you didn't already know.

The first building, "Liberty Hall," also is the oldest, built during 1881 as the home of Joseph Smith III and his family. They moved from Plano, Illinois, to Lamoni that year when the village became headquarters for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ). Located just west of Lamoni, it now is a museum maintained by the Community of Christ.

The RLDS, largest gathering of those early Saints who did not follow Brigham Young west, had coalesced around Joseph Smith III, son of Joseph Smith Jr., founder, prophet and president. The younger Smith, who led the church until his death in 1914, lived at Liberty Hall until 1906, when he moved to Independence, Missouri, and semi-retired. His son, Frederick Madison Smith, assumed active leadership, then followed his father as president and eventually moved church headquarters to Independence,  too.

Graceland University, founded by the RLDS in 1895, moved into this building during 1897. It continues to serve as administration building for the university, still one of Iowa's most respected small institutions of higher learning.

This building served as headquarters for the Herald Publishing House, the publications division of the RLDS (Community of Christ), now located, too, at Independence.

The Saint's Home was one of several nursing/retirement homes established in various cities by the RLDS.

And this large building was the RLDS church building, long since replaced by a more modern structure.

In addition to Liberty Hall, the Community of Christ also welcomes the public (during normal times) to several historic sites in Nauvoo, Illinois --- Visitor Center, Joseph Smith Homestead, Mansion House, Brick Store, Nauvoo House and family cemetery; the Kirtland Temple near Cleveland, Ohio; and the Community of Christ Temple in Independence.

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