The church pews, miniature train, and bandstands of the House of David used to be overflowing with believers. Now, the cultish religious colony has just a few members, but the history of the commune can be seen in its remaining buildings—the opulent century-old mansions and smaller brick houses that sit mostly deserted.
The House of David began in 1903 by Benjamin Purnell, who claimed to be prophet of God. Thousands relocated to Benton Harbor, Michigan to follow Purnell’s “House of David” and live in the commune that promised Heaven on Earth. Members abstained from all vices, and all worldly goods were shared among the community. However despite the austere lifestyle, members of the House of David were no sticks in the mud, as the Detroit Free Press reported in a recent profile on the group.
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