Brigham Young was prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 30 years. During those three decades he directed the establishment of more than three hundred communities throughout the American West. It was "Brother Brigham" as he was affectionately known, who sent the original company of settlers to St. George in 1861 to help establish the "Cotton Mission." His plan was to make the Latter-day Saints more self-sufficient by establishing communities in the south where cotton, grapes and other crops could be produced.
The settlers struggled desperately during the early years when they attempted to grow crops in alkali soil with less than 8 inches of annual rainfall. It was Brigham's custom to visit the settlements once a year to preach and to uplift the Saints. During his visits to St. George he laid plans for the construction of the Tabernacle and the Temple, which became public work projects that helped to tide the settlers over during a period of dire poverty.
Brigham decided early on to establish a winter home in St. George. But first a telegraph line from Salt Lake City would have to be built so that he could communicate with Church head-quarters and conduct business from Dixie. In 1871, he purchased a home one block north and one block west of here. The back portion of the house was already standing. It had been built by James Chesney in 1869. Brigham retained the original home and added the spacious two-story front section in 1873.
At the age of 69, Brigham began spending winters in St. George, living in the home three to five months of the year until his death in 1877. This trend of wintering in Dixie is one which northerners have enjoyed ever since. He came here to take advantage of the mild winters, to nurse his rheumatism, and to free himself from the pressure of his duties as the Church president. The home now belongs to the LDS Church and has been refurnished as one of its historical landmarks. It stands as a symbol of the pioneers' success in creating a prosperous and civilized life in a desolate and isolated place.