The desire to build Zion permeated the lives of the early members of the Church. After Joseph Smith identified Jackson County, Missouri, as the land of Zion, certain Church leaders and large numbers of Latter-day Saints relocated to Missouri. Soon branches of the Church were established in Independence and in other surrounding areas. Independence remained the largest settlement, and the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple there.

The area was dedicated on Wednesday, August 3, 1831 by Joseph Smith and purchased on December 19, 1831 by Edward Partridge to be the center of the New Jerusalem or "City of Zion" after the Prophet received a revelation stating that it would be the gathering spot of the Saints during the Last Days.

However, mob violence drove them from Jackson County before the temple could be built. The plat of the city of Zion at Independence shows space designated for a complex of temples at the center.