Image from the Utah-rchitecture blog
DESTRUCTION OF THE NAUVOO TEMPLE.
A correspondent of the St. Louis Republican, who subscribes himself, “P. Bourg, secretary of the Icarian community,” sends that paper the following account of the complete destruction of the Nauvoo Temple, by a storm, on the 27th of May last:
“The Temple of Nauvoo, erected by the Mormons, finished in 1845, partially burnt in October, 1848, having but its four walls left — all its timber works having been consumed by the flames — was destroyed by a hurricane on the 27th ult.
On arriving at Nauvoo, in March, 1849, the Icarian community bought this temple with a view to refit it for schools, its studying and meeting halls, for a refectory capable of containing about 1000 persons, &c.
Many preparations were already made. An agent had been sent to the pine forests of the north to buy timbers of dimensions necessary for re-establishing the roof and floors. Some other pieces of wood were ready; a steam mill was purchased to fit up a saw mill; the saw mill was nearly finished; a vast shed was raising near the temple to shelter the carpenters; the masons were laying in the interior the bases of the pillars when, on the 27th of May, a frightful hurricane, the most terrible experienced in the country in many years, burst suddenly on the hill of Nauvoo, where lightnings, thunder, wind, hail and rain, seemed united to assail the building.
The storm burst forth so quickly, and with such violence, that the masons, overtaken unawares in the temple, had not time enough to flee before the northern wall, sixty feet high, bent down over their heads, threatening to crush them and bury them up.
“Friends,” cried out the foreman, “we are all lost!” and indeed their loss appeared to be certain, for the southern and eastern walls, which had always been looked upon as the weakest, now shaken by the fall of the former seemed on the point of tumbling on them. But the running rubbish of the northern wall stopped at their feet. Now rushing out of the ruins, in the midst of a cloud of dust, hail and rain wrapped up in lightnings, thunder, and a furious blast of wind, expecting every moment to hear the two walls give way upon them, they succeeded in getting out, astonished at seeing those walls still standing, and frightened at the danger from which they had just emerged.
The same blast that overthrew the wall of the temple, and sensibly dislocated and inclined the two others, took up and carried off the roof of the old school, when the walls, falling on the floor beneath, broke down the beams, and threatened injury to six Icarian women, who were working below.
The creek, on the bank of which the wash-house of the community is situated, was so quickly transformed into an impetuous torrent, that the house was almost instantaneously filled with water, and fifteen Icarian women, then washing there were compelled to get through the windows in order to save themselves. They took refuge at the farm, whence they were soon after brought back in one of the wagons of the community.
All the neighboring fields were ravaged, the fences overturned, and the windows broken. — One of the members of the Gerency got on horseback, and repaired to every place at which men were working out of doors, and soon bro’t back tidings that no personal accidents had happened.
The same evening the masons, reunited and consulted by the Gerency, acknowledged and declared that the southern and eastern walls would soon fall down, and that, to avoid any serious accident, it was better to destroy them.
The next morning the general assembly, having been convoked by the Gerency, met on the Temple Square, and unanimously resolved; first, that the demolition was urgent, for the safety both of the members of the colony themselves, and of the inhabitants and foreigners whom curiosity might bring to the spot. Second, that by unfixing the walls, stone by stone, they might preserve some good ones. But as this operation would take up much time, occasion much work, and expose them to many fatigues and dangers, and considering the lives of men as much more valuable than money, they decided to use some other means.
Those means having been discussed and agree upon, they set to work immediately, and the walls were pulled down.
The destruction of the temple is a misfortune and a great inconvenience to the Icarian community; as they are thus obliged to modify their former projects and plans; but, persevering and courageous, strong in their union, and with the aid of their additional brethren, they will begin again on the place of the temple, provisional and urgent constructions that will serve until they build another large and fine edifice.
The Daily Sanduskian (Sandusky, Ohio) Jun 25, 1850