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Kirtland, Ohio
Kirtland Temple
"A city of Faith & Beauty"
Location of Kirtland, Ohio
Location of Kirtland, Ohio
Location of Kirtland in Lake County
Location of Kirtland in Lake County
Country United States
State Ohio
County Lake
 • Total 16.80 sq mi (43.52 km2)
 • Land 16.67 sq mi (43.18 km2)
 • Water 0.13 sq mi (0.34 km2)
850-1,163 ft (260-354 m)
 • Total 6,937
 • Density 408.61/sq mi (157.77/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 440
FIPS code 39-40642
GNIS feature ID 1064951

Kirtland is a city in Lake County, Ohio, United States. The population was 6,937 at the 2020 census. Kirtland is known for being the early headquarters of the Latter Day Saint movement from 1831 to 1837 and is the site the movement's first temple, the Kirtland Temple, completed in 1836. The city is also the location for many parks in the Lake Metroparks system, as well as the Holden Arboretum.


After the founding of the United States, northern Ohio was designated as the Western Reserve and was sold to the Connecticut Land Company. The area was first surveyed by Moses Cleaveland and his party in 1796.

Kirtland is named for Turhand Kirtland, a principal of the Connecticut Land Company and judge in Trumbull County, the first political entity in Ohio that included Kirtland township. Kirtland, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, demonstrated "both breadth of vision and integrity" in his fair dealings with the local Native Americans. He was known for his bravery, resourcefulness, and passion for justice. Dr. Jared Potter Kirtland was the son of the former; he helped to found a medical college in nearby Willoughby, Ohio, and he compiled the first ornithology of Ohio. The bird Kirtland's warbler is named for Jared Kirtland. This rare species has been documented in the city during migration, but it does not nest in Ohio.

Being less well suited to agriculture, the densely forested, clay soiled, high, hilly, land of Kirtland was settled later than surrounding townships: Mentor in 1798, and Chester in 1802. Kirtland's first European settlers were the John Moore family, soon followed by the Crary family who came to Kirtland in 1811. In 1893 Christopher Crary wrote a memoir of his Kirtland life, which provided a great deal of material for Anne B. Prusha's 1982 history of Kirtland.

Headquarters of the Latter Day Saint movement

From 1831 to 1838 Kirtland was the headquarters for the Latter Day Saint movement. Joseph Smith moved the church to Kirtland in 1831, shortly after its formal organization in April 1830 in Palmyra, New York. Latter Day Saints built their first temple there, a historic landmark that is now owned and operated by the Community of Christ, a group descended from the church founded by Smith. The temple was built with a degree of opulence, considering the underdeveloped nature of the area and the poverty of most early church members. Many attending the Kirtland Temple dedication in 1836 claimed to see multiple heavenly visions and appearances of heavenly beings, including deity. For this and other reasons, Kirtland remains a place of importance to those of all Latter Day Saint denominations. Many sections from the Doctrine and Covenants, considered modern revelations and canonical by most denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement, originated in Kirtland during the 1830s.

Ownership of the Kirtland Temple was in a confused state and disputed for a number of years, but eventually it was declared by court action to be the property of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ). Today, besides giving tours, the Community of Christ church allows others to use the temple for special meetings.

1838 to present

After the majority of the Latter Day Saints departed Kirtland in 1837-38, and during the latter part of the 19th century, Kirtland’s population diminished and life was typical of that of the region. Crary recalls the last rattlesnakes being killed on Gildersleeve Mountain in the 1830s. During this period most of the wooded areas near Kirtland were cleared for agriculture, with corn and apples being the predominant crops.

In the early 20th century, Kirtland School (now Kirtland Elementary) was built to consolidate 3 school houses. One of the old school houses can still be found at the corner of Baldwin and Booth Roads in Kirtland Hills.

Kirtland saw few changes until after World War II when several residential subdivisions were built. In 1957 a high school was built and in 1961, Gildersleeve Elementary was built along Chardon Rd. (US-6). In 1968 a middle school was completed for grades 6–8.

In 1968 the citizens of Kirtland voted in a special election to incorporate the township. James Naughton was the first mayor of the village, which became a city when the 1970 census showed population exceeded 5000. Naughton was succeeded as mayor by Doug Guy, Wesley Phillips, Mario Marcopoli, Edward Podajol, and Mark Tyler.

The 1960s saw an influx and expansion of local businesses. A shopping center was built, which combined the hardware, drug store, grocery, barber shop, plus the local doctor and dentist in one building. By 1965, Interstate 90 was open, allowing a quicker trip into Cleveland, Ohio.

Kirtland continued to grow in population slowly through the 1970s and 1980s.

NK Whitney Store
The N. K. Whitney Store

In the 1990s, as Kirtland became an increasingly popular tourist destination, the historic Kirtland area was created in the Kirtland flats along the East Branch of the Chagrin River. The buildings in this area preserve or replicate structures that were present in the 1830s. Historic Kirtland structures, many of which are related to early Mormon history, include the NK Whitney home (original structure), Newel K. Whitney Store (original structure), a sawmill (replica), an ashery, the Sidney Rigdon home (original structure), and the John Johnson Inn. This area provides insight into what life was like during the period when Kirtland was the home of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other founders of Mormonism. The Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) both operate visitor centers in Kirtland and give tours of the buildings and sites which they own. A group of volunteers puts on an annual musical theater production celebrating the city's Latter-Day Saint history called "This Is Kirtland", which is held at the nearby meetinghouse of the LDS Church.

In 2003, Schupp’s farm and orchard, on Hobart Road, became inactive leaving Rock’s farm on Chillicothe Road, the only active for-profit farm in the city. As of 2006, there are still active cattle and horse farming in the city and some commercial nursery activity. Sugaring still occurs, with at least 2 active sugar bushes other than the large scale Bicknell Sugar Bush at the Holden Arboretum.

Kirtland has been visited by two sitting Presidents of the United States, including the April 2005 visit of President Bush for a speech at the Lake Farm Park. President Bush also visited Kirtland in 2006 as part of emergency efforts associated with the Grand River flooding.


Kirtland is located at 41°36′9″N 81°20′41″W / 41.60250°N 81.34472°W / 41.60250; -81.34472 (41.602581, -81.344706).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.80 square miles (43.51 km2), of which, 16.67 square miles (43.18 km2) is land and 0.13 square miles (0.34 km2) is water.

Kirtland is located south of the lake shore plain of Lake Erie and is situated on the higher elevations of the Allegheny Plateau. The principal geographic features are the East Branch of the Chagrin River, Pierson's Knob, and Gildersleeve Mountain, which at 1,163 feet (354 m) above sea level is the high point, 593 feet (181 m) above Lake Erie, 6.7 miles (10.8 km) to the northwest.

Native vegetation is northern hardwood forest. Hemlock-hardwood forest is found in the higher elevations and along ravines, beech-maple forest is predominant in other areas. A few stands of old growth oak-hickory forest can also be found in the city.

Kirtland is located in the snowbelt region of Lake Erie, and has snowfall and weather patterns similar to nearby Chardon. In this area, annual snowfall averages over 100 inches (250 cm) per year, and anecdotal evidence indicates seasonal snowfall can exceed 250 inches (640 cm) in some microclimate areas.

Kirtland is primarily a residential community. Over 20 percent of the land area is forest preserve or park land. The Holden Arboretum at 3,500 acres (14 km2) is the largest of these, but not all of Holden's land is located in Kirtland. Three metropolitan parks are also in Kirtland. The largest is Chapin State Forest, at 390 acres (1.6 km2), which includes much of Gildersleeve mountain. Also in Kirtland are Penitentiary Glen, and the Lake Farm Park. Lakeland Community College is located largely in the City of Kirtland, the campus dominating the northern part of the city.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 206
1970 5,530
1980 5,969 7.9%
1990 5,881 −1.5%
2000 6,670 13.4%
2010 6,866 2.9%
2020 6,937 1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

In 2018 languages spoken in the city were: 92.5% English, 2.2% Croatian, 1.5% Italian, and 1.5% Slovene.

2010 census

As of the 2010 Census, there were 6,866 people, 2,544 households, and 1,948 families residing in the city. The population density was 411.9 inhabitants per square mile (159.0/km2). There were 2,716 housing units at an average density of 162.9 per square mile (62.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.7% White, 0.4% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 2,544 households, of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.3% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 23.4% were non-families. 20.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.05.

The median age in the city was 46.9 years. 23% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.8% were from 25 to 44; 34.3% were from 45 to 64; and 19.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.3% male and 50.7% female.

Of the city's population over the age of 25, 39.4% hold a bachelor's degree or higher.

Points of interest

Notable people

  • Alma M. Aldrich, member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, born in Kirtland in 1837
  • Elizabeth Watson Russell Lord, educator and philanthropist, born and raised in Kirtland from 1819 to 1847
  • Emma Smith, wife of Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith, lived in Kirtland from 1831 to 1832 and 1833 to 1838
  • Joseph Smith, founder and leader of the Latter Day Saint movement, lived in Kirtland from 1831 to 1832 and from 1833 to 1838
  • Newel K. Whitney, early leader of the Latter Day Saint movement lived in Kirtland from 1819 to 1838
  • Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lived in Kirtland from 1833 to 1837

See also

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