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Why the church received a preservation award for efforts to restore Historic Nauvoo

Alicia Ponce presents an award to Steven Olsen, a senior curator of the church’s historic sites.
Alicia Ponce of APMonarch presents an award to Steven Olsen, a senior curator of the church’s historic sites, at the Davis Theater in Chicago on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received an award from preservationists for its efforts to restore a historic area in Latter-day Saint history, according to a news release Monday.

Those overseeing the restoration work in Historic Nauvoo’s Temple District were presented with the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award by Landmarks Illinois at the Davis Theater in Chicago on Friday, Oct. 22.

Historic Nauvoo was one of two projects recognized in the restoration category, joining a project to renovate Chicago’s Union Station.

Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald said the two award-winning projects are models of what preservation can and should be — “The creative, inclusive and sustainable reuse of our built environment promoting local job creation and community driven economic development.”

“The courageous and visionary people behind these innovative projects deserve recognition for transforming places to serve as equitable housing, accessible art and education centers, and lively gathering spaces that bring awareness to Illinois’ diverse history,” McDonald said in the news release.

The Latter-day Saints built and lived in Nauvoo for only seven years (1839-1846), but it was a pivotal period of church history. During that time, the Nauvoo Temple was constructed and several important events transpired.

In 2014, the church launched a 25-year project to revitalize Historic Nauvoo’s core messages, historical landscapes, authenticity and guest experience by 2039 — the church’s bicentennial in the city.

Elder Quentin L. Cook walks the grinds near the temple during a tour the Historic Nauvoo in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Elder Quentin L. Cook, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, walks the grinds near the temple during a tour the Historic Nauvoo in Nauvoo, Illinois on Saturday, May 29, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the Temple District of Nauvoo, the first phase of the plan, last May.

Steven Olsen, a senior curator of the church’s historic sites, represented the church and others in accepting the award.

“We express appreciation for the remarkable team that accomplished this project and for Landmarks Illinois for this singular recognition,” Olsen said in the news release. “We pledge our best efforts to remain worthy of it and of the enduring legacy of the Nauvoo Temple.”