I served as a missionary in the New Hampshire Manchester Mission and might be a little bit obsessed with the New England Area. On my mission, I had the opportunity to visit the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial quite a few times. It’s a gorgeous, peaceful place and I would love to tell you all about it! Here are some fun facts:
1. The farm was owned by Solomon Mack and his family.
Joseph Smith Sr. and his wife, Lucy Mack, had some financial troubles in 1804. Therefore, Lucy’s father, Solomon, invited them to live at their farm. They stayed for about 4 years, during which time Lucy gave birth to the future prophet, Joseph Smith Jr.
2. The home was only 800-square-feet.
Could you imagine living with five children in such a small home? Smith Sr. and Lucy did just that with their kids on this farm. The house was complete with a fireplace. In fact, the hearthstone of that fireplace still exists! You can see it at the visitor’s center.
3. The obelisk has a lot of symbolism.
The huge obelisk is 38.5 feet tall. It’s one foot for every year of the prophet’s life. It was placed on the 100th anniversary of his birth. The stone is made from Vermont granite and weighs 99 tons. Together with the base and cap, it stands 50 feet tall.
4. The miracle of the mud pit.
Transporting the obelisk was difficult. It took teams of oxen and many horses to transport it from the Vermont quarry. During the journey, they came upon a mud pit. It was impossible to cross. However, after many prayers, a sudden overnight freeze allowed them to slide the obelisk across!
5. Joseph Smith’s nephew gave the dedicatory prayer.
President Joseph F. Smith, the nephew of Joseph Smith Jr., offered the dedicatory prayer on the 100th anniversary of the prophet’s birth. Part of the prayer said,
May Thy blessing abide upon it, that it may be a blessed place, where Thy people may visit from time to time and rejoice in contemplating Thy goodness in that Thou hast restored to the earth the fullness of the Gospel of Thy Son, with all the power and authority necessary to administer it and all its ordinances unto the inhabitants of the earth, for their salvation and for the redemption of their dead.
6. Visitors planted the trees.
When the memorial first opened, visitors were invited to plant their own trees around the grounds. Still to this day, you can take a short hike to the top of Patriarch Hill and look down at their beautiful leaves that surround the monument.
7. There are over 80,000 visitors annually.
The Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial attracts many visitors to its gorgeous grounds. The majority of those people are drawn because of the incredible Christmas light display. The lights are complete with a live nativity, refreshments, and live music every year!
President M. Russell Ballard said of his recent experience at the memorial,
I hope when that day comes, if I get a chance to meet (Joseph Smith) on the other side, that I can tell him that even sitting at the fireplace of the cottage where he was born was a very important spiritual time in my life.
The address, in case you need it, is 357 Lds Ln, South Royalton, VT 05068. Tours are free and daily. Have a blast!
If you ever make your way out to Vermont, make sure you stop by the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial. You don’t want to miss it!