The Temple Lot is one of the holiest sites in all of the Mormon Church. Members of the church believe that this is the place where Jesus Christ will return to the earth, an event that is prophesized in the Bible. Most of the property is a grassy lawn that is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The site was set apart by Joseph Smith in the 19th century with the intention of building a temple. The area is currently home to a visitors center that is welcome to all.
members of Joseph Smith’s new church had made their way to the precipice of the
American West: Jackson County, Missouri. The Saints, as they called themselves,
went to do missionary work with the Native Americans in the neighboring Kansas
territory. Impressed with the bustling frontier region, the Saints sent word to
Smith that this land would be a perfect place for their people to settle. In
1831, through a divine revelation, Joseph Smith declared Independence as the
City of Zion. This City was to become the center of the Mormon Church, as they
believed Jesus would return there one day.
Between 1830 and 1833, 1200 saints—nearly half the total population of the Mormon Church—immigrated to
Independence and Jackson County, raising the population of Jackson
County by one third. They introduced the county’s first printing press and the first newspapers: The Evening and Morning Star. The saints were to also
build a temple on a plot of land which now sits at 200 River Bend Boulevard in Independence.
That temple was never completed, as the Mormons were
expelled from Missouri, and the land was seized by the government and contested
until 1867 when the Church of Christ purchased the land. They established their
headquarters and built a house of worship in 1884, which still stand
today. However, this is not the temple envisioned by Joseph Smith or by his
followers. The Church of Christ attempted to construct the temple in 1929, but
Edward Partridge, a Bishop in the Mormon Church, purchased the area surrounding
the temple for the church as well as its congregants. Known as the ‘Greater
Temple Lot,’ this 65-acre plot of land is owned by the Community of Christ, the
second largest sect of the Mormon Church. On this land, they built the Stone
Church in 1884, their headquarters and Auditorium in 1954, and dedicated the
Independence Temple in 1994 although it is still not technically completed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also operates a Visitors
Center, Social Services Center, and church which is used by local members of the Mormon Church.