After being closed for more than 4 years of archaeological research, planning and construction, the Priesthood Restoration Site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reopens in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania on August 29, 2015. The site–which previously only contained a statue commemorating the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood–will now include two reconstructed period homes along with a meetinghouse and Visitor’s Center featuring interactive exhibits. The 90-acre site is located near Oakland Township (formerly known as Harmony) in Pennsylvania near the present-day town of Susquehanna.
Visitors to the site will now be able to tour Emma’s childhood home. Fleeing persecution, Emma and Joseph sought refuge in Harmony with the Emma’s parents–Isaac and Elizabeth Hale–in 1827. Here Joseph began translating the Book of Mormon. Later, Emma and Joseph purchased land and a farmhouse from Emma’s brother, Jesse, for $200. In this home the translation of the Book of Mormon continued, and Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry had questions regarding baptism after it came up in the text. They sought answers to their question in prayer in the nearby woods and received a visitation of John the Baptist who, as an answer to their prayer, restored to them the Aaronic Priesthood which holds the power to baptize.
The new visitor center will contain artwork, exhibits and artifacts that relate to the translation of the Book of Mormon and the 15 revelations Joseph received in Harmony that were later included in the Doctrine & Covenants. Exhibits will also highlight the restoration of the priesthood and its impact in our lives today. It will also serve as a meetinghouse for local congregations.
In addition to touring the historical structures, visitors will be able to walk the woods where the visitation of John the Baptist occurred and stand on the banks of the Susquehanna river where Joseph and Oliver were baptized.
The site is fully open for visitors as of August 29. The Restoration Site’s web page will be updated September 4 to include tips on how to plan your visit and further details regarding research and construction. President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Russell M. Nelson will offer the dedicatory prayer at a ticketed event on September 19 at 11 a.m. E.D.T. The church invites interested individuals and family to watch the event live on LDS.org or view it later when it is archived in “Other Broadcasts” section of LDS.org.
A detailed map of the new site, and renderings of the exhibits are available in the Church Newsroom release announcing the reopening and dedication. Historical photos of the area and commentary from former Church Historian Elder Marlin K. Jensen is available in the 2011 Church Newsroom release announcing the site redevelopment.
If you are able to tour the new site and would like to share your thoughts, please contact us here at This Week in Mormons.