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
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.
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
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. Touch 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 Burnett's Post (approx. 2½ 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). Touch for a list and map 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 & Religion • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 26, 2013, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 593 times since then and 80 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 26, 2013, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.