Koreshan State Historic Park
Koreshan Earth Model, Art Hall
A core tenet of the Koreshan faith was Cellular Cosmogony, the belief that the universe exists inside a giant, hollow sphere. Koreshans believed that humans lived inside the Earth and not on its surface. Hence the force that held people in place was not gravity but centrifugal force. Teed believed that the whole universe also existed inside this sphere and that the Sun was an electromagnetic battery-operated helix. The picture shows a model of the earth according to Koreshan belief on display in the Art Hall’ one of eleven buildings preserved at Koreshan State Historic Park. The wood-panelled Art Hall constructed about 1905 as a venue for concerts by their 13-piece orchestra. Fort Myers winter residents often attended the concerts, including Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
Vesta Newcomb Cottage & Bakery
The Koreshans built many functional buildings including the bakery to the right of the picture. The cottage on the left was occupied by Vesta Newcomb who joined the dwindling band of Koreshans in the 1940s. She died in 1974 in Naples, Florida
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The Koreshans did not shun technology. The machine shop dates from 1904 and served to make the settlement as self-sufficient as possible.
Planetary Court is a two-storey residence was built in 1904. It house the seven women who were responsible for the day-to-day administration of the settlement. One woman who lived in Planetary Court was Virginia Harmon Andrews from Dranesville, Virginia who became and remained a member of the Koreshan fiath until her death in 1921. Her room in the building has been preserved. The last member of the Koreshans, Hedwig Michel, lived in Planetary Court until her death in 1982. The Koreshans may have died out but but they left a financial legacy. The movement owned much more land than was deeded to the state, and in the 1990s that land was sold to residential developers. The proceeds are held by and organisation created by Teed now known as the College of Life Foundation. It is is dedicated to the preservation of South Florida history and it maintains the Koreshan archives. Click on Tab 2 to see Virginia Harmon Andrews' Room in Planetary Court
The Koreshans were very industrious and they built all of the buildings at Koreshan SHP. The earliest one is the home of Cyrus Teed, the founder of the Koreshan faith. The two storey Founder’s Residence was built in 1896 but was split into two apartments, one occupied by Teed and the other by the woman whom he selected to be the Moon to his Sun. The Koreshans had three levels of membership. Patrons of Equation were non believers who worked for the Koreshans and participated in secular activities, Department of Equitable Administration was a middle group who could marry and engage in sexual relations solely for procreation while The Pre-Eminent Unity was the core group who could not marry and were celibate. As a member of the core group, Teed could not co-habit with his female opposite number so she had a separate apartment. Click Tab 2 to see Cyrus Teed's Sitting Room inside the residence.
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You will find information on the Amish, Mennonites, Mormons (who don’t like to be called Mormons nowadays) and Shakers in 50 plus DC. In Florida you can visit the former home of a short-lived religious sect who had a very unusual view of the universe. Cyrus Teed was a medical doctor from upstate New York who indulged in some dangerous experiments using electricity. In 1869 Teed passed out after experiencing and electric shock. Teed claimed that while he was unconscious he was visited by God in the form of a beautiful woman, who divulged to him all the secrets of the universe and told him to create a ‘New Jerusalem’ for his followers. He took the name Koresh (Hebrew for Cyrus) and travelled New York state, Chicago and San Francisco where he recruited small groups of followers. Teed decided that ‘New Jerusalem’ should be located near the small town of Estero, Florida and in 1894 he and his followers moved there. The Koreshans built their ‘New Jerusalem’ but the movement remained small with only around 200 members. In 1908 Cyrus Teed died. Reincarnation was one of their beliefs, so the Koreshans left his body in a bath tub in the hope that he would rise again. Eventually local health officials insisted that he be given a proper burial. After Teed’s death many members drifted away leaving less than 40 people. By 1961 there were only four Koreshans left. Their leader Hedwig Michel ceded 123 hectares (305 acres) of land to the State of Florida and it opened as a State Park in 1967. Hedwig Michel was the last member when she died in 1982.