News Release

Church Provides Preview of Historic Site
Under Construction in Pennsylvania

Work is under way by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to renovate historic property located in Oakland Township in northern Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County. Mormons believe the site, formerly called Harmony, is where Church founder Joseph Smith translated much of the Book of Mormon and the priesthood was restored.

Downloadable HD video of SOTs and B-roll from Susquehanna film shoot for journalists

Downloadable HD video of SOTs and B-roll from LDS Motion Picture Studio for journalists

In a rare visit to the LDS Motion Picture Studio in Provo today, the news media was given a preview of the current restructuring of the historic site, including a feature film that will be played in the new visitors’ center now under construction. The site will also include the restored home of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, the parents of Emma Smith, wife of Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith and scribe Oliver Cowdery visited the banks of the nearby Susquehanna River, where the two baptized each other. Church faithful also believe they received the Aaronic Priesthood from the angel John the Baptist at this historical site.

The restoration project is a collaboration between the Church’s Missionary and Church History departments.

“As the new site is being developed, it’s extremely important from our standpoint because this is the last site of the Restoration that has not yet been fully restored,” said Stephen Allen of the managing director, Missionary Department.

The site will also include a replica of a cabin where Joseph and Emma lived in the early days of the Church. The early sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, additional scripture for Latter-day Saints, can also be traced back to the area.   

“This is perhaps the most sophisticated and most difficult and complex site that we’ve had in terms of geographic location,” explained Reid Neilson, managing director of the Church History Department. Neilson said the Susquehanna River, a railroad track and Highway 171, a major thoroughfare that is currently being realigned, have made this a complicated project. The road realignment project will be finished in the spring of 2015.

Visitors to the site will be able to see the attractions from the chapel and visitors’ center during inclement weather.

Filming is under way at the LDS Motion Picture Studio of a 22-minute feature film that will be played in the new visitors’ center and will become part of the visitor experience once renovations are completed. “The film is intended to tell the story of the translation of the Book of Mormon through the eyes of Oliver Cowdery, who ended up being the scribe of the book,” added Allen.  

Completion of the Susquehanna site is expected in late summer or early fall of 2015.

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