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Regarded as Nauvoo's best bed & breakfast, the beautiful Willard Richards Inn embraces every aspect of its historic past. Enjoy the history of a grand country inn with modern, gracious appointments. Decorated in an elegant Nauvoo style with special attention to furniture, exceptional linens, and the soft colors of each guest room. The Willard Richards Inn is wonderfully comfortable and a memorable place to stay. As the only Bed & Breakfast located among the old Nauvoo historic sites, the large nearly two-acre estate is adorned with giant 100-year shade trees and still sits among the homes of its neighbors Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Wilford Woodruff. The Willard Richards Inn is a destination in itself. - Each guest room includes complimentary continental breakfast, exceptional linens and pillows. Select rooms offer stunning Temple views. - Make reservations early we fill up fast!!
History of the Willard Richards Inn
On August 2, 1843 Joseph Smith called a meeting in the second floor of the Red Brick Store. The prophet referred to those invited as “well-trusted men and women.” Holding up a small notebook he opened it and read from the first page: "We the undersigned, knowing that Elder Willard Richards one of the Twelve who when not abroad among the nations preaching the Gospel is by special appointment of President Joseph Smith and this church is engaged in church business continually. He has no house to abide in and therefore we do mutually agree to furnish such materials, means or labor as may be necessary to build Elder Willard Richards a comfortable home." Joseph Smith then put the notebook on the table and picked up his pen and wrote his contirbution to the building of Dr. Richards a home - he subscribed one city lot. More than 150 people stepped forward and added their names and contribtions to the notebook. Built with charity for an Apostle of the Lord this maeningful home has a very special feeling throughout.
Joseph Smith later wrote in his journal of that night:
“A subscription has been got up to build a house for Elder Willard Richards, to which I subscribed a city lot. The brethren subscribed $25 cash, 10 cords of stone, 30 bushels of lime, 105 days work, $59 in labor, 15,900 bricks, glass, lumber and other materials, together with a quantity of produce. I hope the day is not far-distant when my clerk will have a comfortable house for his family.” - Joseph Smith
Although a beautiful tall brick home was built for Elder Richards and he lived in it with his family until the saints left for Salt Lake Valley in February 1846 , the deed to the lot and home was never officially transferred into Elder Richards name. The lot actually remained recorded as owned by Joseph & Emma Smith jointly, and then became the sole property of Emma Smith after the death of Joseph. Willard Richards and his family lived in the home until he left with the Saints in February 1846. Emma, in desperate times eventually sold the home in December 1847 “to get up some money.”
Elder Willard Richards’s home was the meeting place for Church leaders from the day it was completed. Joseph Smith spent countless hours, day and night working with Elder Richards at his home to complete the History of the Church and the Life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. After the death of the Prophet, Elder Richards' home served as the headquarters of the Church until the rest of the Twelve returned and could get a place organized.
Willard Richards was among the original nine men who were in the Red Brick store when Joseph revealed for the first time the Temple Endowment ceremony and all the associated ordinances. He and Jennetta were sealed by Joseph Smith personally. This group of nine was by tradition often referred to as the Anointed Quorum. They met almost every day to pray and hold special council meetings. Since the Temple was not yet competed, most of the prayer meetings, which included the exercise of new ordinances, sealing couples, and endowment ceremonies, were held in the upper floor of Willard Richards home. Some meetings were also held in Brigham Young’s and John Taylor’s home. Hundreds of journal entries by many of the church leaders record the sacred events and meetings that took place at Dr. Richards’ home. Brigham Young recorded, “we met every day, and sometimes more often at Dr. Richards home for prayer and council.” Heber C. Kimball had over a hundred separate entries in his journal about the sacred prayer meetings and miracles experienced at Willard Richards home.
Famous guests who stayed at the Willard Richards home:
Josiah Quincy – Mayor of Boston
Charles Francis Adams – Son & Grandson of two U.S. Presidents
Abraham Lincoln – Illinois State Legislator
Carl Sandberg – Author and Poet
History of Elder Willard Richards
Willard Richards was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts on June 24, 1804. At the age of four he injured himself in a fall. As the injury limited his physical activity, he focused his attention on education and obtained a teacher's certificate at age sixteen. He taught school in Chatham, New York, and in Lanesboro, Massachusetts. He pursued additional studies in physical mechanics & science, and learned to play the clarinet. At the age of thirty, he studied at the Thomson Infirmary in Boston focusing on medication and herbal preparations and became a physician. He then settled in Holliston, Massachusetts, where he practiced medicine. From a 21st century perspective, he would probably be considered a pharmacist.
In 1836, Dr. Richards’ cousins Joseph Young and Brigham Young introduced him to the newly published Book of Mormon. He read the book twice in ten days and soon traveled to Kirtland, Ohio to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith. Richards was baptized on December 31, 1836, by Brigham Young and ordained an Elder roughly two months later.
Shortly following his ordination, Elder Richards was called on a brief three-month mission to the Eastern United States. Immediately upon his return, he was called on a more extended mission to Great Britain. Not long after their arrival in England, Elder Heber C. Kimball announced to Willard, who was thirty-three years old and still single, "I baptized your wife today." The young lady, whom Elder Richards had never met, was Jennetta Richards; the first person confirmed a member of the LDS Church in England. The two became good friends, and one day he remarked to her what a fine last name Richards was and said, "I never want to change it; do you, Jennetta?" "No; I do not," she replied, "and I think I never will." They were married on 24 September 1839.
The following spring, while still in England, Joseph Smith received a revelation to call Willard Richards to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (D&C 118:6). He was ordained by Brigham Young and became the first and only apostle ever to be ordained outside of the United States. Returning to Nauvoo in 1841, Elder Richards became general clerk of the Church and private secretary to Joseph Smith.
In December 1842, he was called to be the LDS Church Historian and Recorder, a position he held until his death. His home became his personal office and the location of many meetings with Church leaders. He maintained the Prophet's schedule and recorded most of his activities. As church historian, he subsequently wrote a total of 1,884 pages on the history of Joseph Smith. This work was later incorporated into The History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, edited by B.H. Roberts. Elder Richards served as the editor for the Times & Seasons newspaper, a position he learned to do as the editor of the Millennial Star paper in England. He was also the Mayor of Nauvoo, a General of the Nauvoo Legion, and postmaster of Nauvoo, which was perhaps the largest city in Illinois at the time.
Joseph Smith once wrote regarding his dear friend Willard Richards:
“I have been searching all my life to find a man after my own heart whom I could trust with my business in all things and I have found him. Dr. Willard Richards is that man.”
A year before his assassination, the Prophet Joseph Smith testified to Willard Richards that “the time will come when balls shall fly around you like hail Bro. Richards, and you will see your friends fall on the right and on the left, but there will not be a single hole in your garments.” Elder Richards was in the Carthage Jail with Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and John Taylor on the 27th of June 1844. They were attacked with fierce gunfire from a lawless mob. The Prophet and his Patriarch brother were struck multiple times and killed. John Taylor himself was shot four times and severely injured, barley surviving the attack. Elder Richards, as prophesied, miraculously had not a single hole in his clothes. Unhurt but shocked and saddened Elder Richards took care of Taylor and brought the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum back to Nauvoo. His first-hand account of the event was published in the Times and Seasons titled, "Two Minutes in Jail." Joseph Smith and Willard Richards enjoyed a close friendship and brotherhood. So loved was Brother Richards that when the Prophet invited the Saints to donate something to help Willard Richards build a home, over 150 people stepped forward. His home still stands today.
With John Taylor struggling to recover from his wounds, and the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on missions to the eastern states, Elder Richards had the burden of presiding over the Church in the darkest weeks of this dispensation. His home became the official headquarters of the Church and was busy with non-stop meetings day and night. He sent an urgent message to Brigham Young asking him to hurry back to Nauvoo. When Brigham Young arrived with all the other Apostles, Elder Richards sustained him as the President of the Quorum of Twelve and the next President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As an Apostle, Temple Recorder, and Church historian and due to the fact that he was one of only nine who actually received his endowments from Joseph Smith, Elder Richards home was used almost daily for prayer meetings and church business.
Elder Richards and his family left Nauvoo with Brigham Young and the Saints in February 1846 and spent that year at Winter Quarters. He traveled with Brigham Young and the first group into the Salt Lake Valley on July 27th 1847. It was on Willard Richards cane that Brigham Young tied a white handkerchief and waved the first ensign. He was called as Second Counselor in the First Presidency under Brigham Young on December 27, 1847. In Utah, Elder Richards was founder of the Deseret News and served as its first editor. He was the President of the first Utah Legislature, and became the Secretary of State for the Utah territory.
Brigham Young said of Brother Richards: "He was as true and unwavering in his course as the sun is to the earth. There was not a shade of deviation from the principles of righteousness."
Elder Willard Richards died in Salt Lake City on March 11, 1854.