Ammon, Billy and Dallin on the front porch of the Newell K. Whitney Store
Billy and Ammon inside the store
Newel K. Whitney Store
Whitney Store was the economic and cultural center of Kirtland.
The Whitney Store received a 1988 Presidential Historic Preservation Award.
Center of Commerce and Church Organization
Imagine a contemporary grocery shopper buying household supplies such as brown sugar or molasses in a 15-gallon wooden keg. Cooking oil is available in a hand-thrown pottery crock. Herbs and spices appear in foot-long, tightly tied bundles while woven baskets display freshly harvested produce.
Such cumbersome shopping would generate impatience in today’s consumers, but it was a significant part of daily life in frontier America. Settlers bartered for everyday necessities at a community general store, a store filled with wooden crates, barrels, crocks and baskets.
It served as mercantile, post office, and trading center for the residents of the growing community. A step inside the Newel K. Whitney Store opens a window to life on what was then the western frontier of the United States.
“The (Kirtland) Flats was a bustling, noisy place,” notes historian Jenny Lund. “The Whitney Store was located right at the crossing of two important and busy roads. Wagons, coaches, carriages, riders on horseback and people afoot were passing through on a regular basis. The Store itself was a very vibrant establishment, with customers coming and going constantly.”
Whitney parlayed his experience as a military peddler during the War of 1812 into a thriving enterprise in the developing community of Kirtland. The skilled merchandiser developed the general store, invested in local real estate and manufactured and distributed the high-demand product potash.
Restoration of the still existing store was completed in 1984. Winner of a Presidential Historic Preservation Award in 1988, the painstakingly researched restitution of the site was simplified by the discovery of Whitney’s handwritten ledger and account book.
“Whitney’s records explain how the inventory was maintained,” adds Lund, “so we know what he was buying, where he ordered and what items he sold. With that information, we are very confident about the details of the restoration.”