“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Benton Harbor in Berrien County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Israelite House of David / Mary's City of David

Israelite House of David Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Duane Hall, April 26, 2013
1. Israelite House of David Marker
(Obverse Side)
Israelite House of David
Based on the teachings of the Christian Israelite tradition begun by Joanna Southcott in England in 1792. Benjamin and Mary Purnell founded the House of David communal religious community in Benton Harbor in 1903. At its peak the colony had one thousand members, including artists, businessmen, and inventors. During the 1920s the colony used Michigan's growing auto tourism industry to fund its development. One of the largest landowners in southwest Michigan, it operated prize-winning farms, an amusement park with miniature trains, an ice cream parlor, and a zoo. The House of David baseball teams, with their long hair and beards, were popular fixtures on the national barnstorming circuit in the 1920s and 1930s.

(Reverse Side)
Mary's City of David
After the death of Benjamin Purnell in 1927, the Israelite House of David religious community split over spiritual direction and accumulation of assets. Purnell's wife, Mary, left, and founded Mary's City of David on this adjacent site in 1930. She retained control of four large farms and a ninety-room hotel next to Benton Harbor's expansive fruit market, which provided income for the colony. Between 1930 and 1950, members designed and constructed this complex of vernacular buildings. At a time
Mary's City of David Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Duane Hall, April 26, 2013
2. Mary's City of David Marker
when resorts were restricted by race and ethnicity, the colony welcomed Jewish visitors by building cabins and a synagogue to accommodate them and opening vegetarian restaurants that attracted Orthodox Jewish Vacationers from Chicago.
Erected 2009 by Michigan Historical Commission - Michigan Historical Center. (Marker Number S717.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Michigan Historical Commission marker series.
Location. 42° 6.518′ N, 86° 25.777′ W. Marker is near Benton Harbor, Michigan, in Berrien County. Marker is at the intersection of East Britain Avenue and Eastman Avenue, on the left when traveling west on East Britain Avenue. Click for map. Marker is at southwest corner of intersection at the entrance to Mary's City of David. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1158 East Britain Avenue, Benton Harbor MI 49022, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Historic District of Mary's City of David (within shouting distance of this marker); The Morton House (approx. 1.1 miles away); The Fruit Belt (approx. 1.4 miles away); Benton Harbor Fruit Market (approx. 1.4 miles
Israelite House of David / Mary's City of David Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Duane Hall, April 26, 2013
3. Israelite House of David / Mary's City of David Marker
View to west across Eastman Ave
away); Burnett's Post (approx. 2.5 miles away); Boatbuilding Industry (approx. 2.6 miles away); St. Joseph Maritime Heritage (approx. 2.6 miles away); Shipbuilding in the Twin Cities (approx. 2.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Benton Harbor.
Also see . . .
1. House of David (Commune) - Wikipedia Entry. (Submitted on April 26, 2013, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.)
2. Mary's City of David. The website of the Israelite House of David as Reorganized by Mary Purnell, 1930. (Submitted on April 26, 2013, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.) 
Categories. Churches, Etc.Settlements & Settlers
Main Building of Mary's City of David Photo, Click for full size
By Duane Hall, April 26, 2013
4. Main Building of Mary's City of David
Located 150 feet west of the marker
A Building of the Israelite House of David Photo, Click for full size
By Duane Hall, April 26, 2013
5. A Building of the Israelite House of David
Building is 1/4 mile west of the marker on E. Britain Ave
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 447 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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