An Introduction to the Kirtland Flats Ashery

Reflecting a recent resurgence of interest in one of its most important historic spaces, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently restoring a number of historic structures in Kirtland, Ohio, including buildings in the lowland area known as Kirtland Flats. These buildings are part of a major restoration plan designed to significantly increase the quantity and quality of historical interpretation at the site by introducing visitors to the major doctrinal and historical developments of the Church during the seven years its followers resided in Kirtland (1831–1838).

One of the buildings being restored is the ashery, where ashes from hardwood trees were used to make an alkali important to many industries. Selected for restoration because of its significance to the early economic programs of the Church and its association with prominent Church members, the ashery will help tell the story of the Latter-day Saints in Kirtland. Overlooked by most casual readers of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Kirtland ashery is mentioned in a revelation given to Joseph Smith in spring 1831. That this obscure industrial building of the nineteenth century is included in canonical text alludes to its significance for the Church and its history. Unfortunately, until now the role of the ashery in this history has been largely ignored.

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