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Nauvoo excavation looks to uncover underground vault

NAUVOO, Ill. (WGEM) -- A project is underway in Nauvoo, Illinois to uncover whether a vault could have been built as a tomb for the founder of the Mormon faith.

Crews are excavating a vault found under Zion Mercantile on Mullholland Street.

Owner Brian Christiansen said there are a number of indicators that give credence to the theory that the vault could have been built for the body of Joseph Smith, such as it's building materials and location.

"The historical record talks about the tomb of Joseph Smith being off of the southeast corner of the temple and that was referred to as Joseph's Corner and where our business is located is directly off the southeast corner of the temple," he said.

But Christiansen said even if the vault doesn't turn out to be Smith's tomb, he still has plans to turn the space into a historical exhibit; as a model of what Smith's actual tomb would look like.

"It's kind of a neat piece of history and so if even if that's not the vault, the construction is similar to how the vault would have looked," he said. "It's made with the same materials of what you'd expect to find."

Christiansen says the necessary permits should come through by the end of the month.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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