Sunstone Capital

Sunstone Capital

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Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints founded the town of Nauvoo, Illinois in 1839 and finished construction of their elaborate temple in 1846. Initially welcomed by the Illinois General Assembly, growing anti-Mormonism and the 1844 murder of leader Joseph Smith drove them to abandon the town less than three years after completing the temple.
This celestial limestone carving was one of thirty that adorned the grand temple at Nauvoo, which was destroyed by a fire (possibly due to arson) in 1848 and tornado-force winds in 1850.
Currently not on view
Object Name
capital, part of
capitol, part of
Date made
associated dates
Weeks, William
associated institution
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
associated person
Smith, Joseph
Weeks, William
Place Made
United States: Illinois, Nauvoo
associated place
United States: Illinois, Nauvoo
Physical Description
limestone (overall material)
white (overall color)
overall sunstone (two sections assembled): 48 in x 72 in x 18 in; 121.92 cm x 182.88 cm x 45.72 cm
capital, part of (1989.0453.01a): 38 1/4 in x 62 3/8 in x 21 in; 97.155 cm x 158.4325 cm x 53.34 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Mormons. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Religion
Cultures & Communities
Family & Social Life
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I love the sun stone, it is one of my favorite things at the museum. Looking into the history of the stone, I saw that it used to have a pedestal and be in a better location. The location it is in right now just feels sad. Its tucked in a corner next to Swedish chef and a hair dryer.
My husbands great grandfather was Benjamin T. Mitchell who cut and laid the first capital stone which consisted of the Sunstone on top of a pillar. I have 3 sources as to the truth, plus the family history. He was a well known stone cutter for the Nauvoo , Salt Lake and St. George temples. He sis not work on the Manti temple.
"A small "M " is carved in the upper-left corner of the stone, indicating that it was carved by someone with a surname of initial "M. " This website identifies the maker of this stone as William Weeks, the architect of the building. So far as I can tell, the only person with a surname of initial "M " that is documented to have carved one of these capital stones is Benjamin T. Mitchell (12 January 1816 to 9 March 1880). See Does the Smithsonian have any additional records regarding which stonecutter likely made this stone?"
From the website: "Benjamin Winchester and Charles Lambert carved the first sunstones. "More information on the sunstones can be found here:

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