By rehabilitating original buildings like the Newel K. Whitney General Store ”” where Mr. Smith lived for a time and had the revelation that Mormons should not smoke or drink alcohol or caffeine ”” and rebuilding long-lost buildings like a sawmill, the curators try to explain the town’s significance in vivid terms and allow people to walk in their prophet’s shoes.
“When Joseph Smith arrives in Kirtland in 1831, he’s the head of a loosely organized group of followers,” Mr. Olsen said. “When they leave Kirtland in 1838, the church has a fully recognized ecclesiastical organization.”
The church also addresses the reason Smith and most of his 2,000 followers left Kirtland, citing the Depression and the failed bank the church had started.
And while the tour has attracted the many visitors the church had hoped, non-Mormons say any fear of Mormons taking over the town have evaporated.