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House of David founder Benjamin Purnell is seen standing with his followers outside of the House of David ice cream shop in Benton Harbor in a photo on display at the House of David Museum in St. “It’s just a super mysterious, twisted, secret, unusual, fascinating story that touches everything from entertainment, to sports, to sex — or lack thereof — to religion, to everything,” Siriano said. Married couples who joined had to then regard themselves as brother and sister.
Although its reputation was stained by the sex scandal, and some detractors called it a cult, there are a lot of people who still look back on the House of David’s heyday with affection and nostalgia.“Was it a cult? Since killing is a sin, their diet was strictly vegetarian, and members refused to serve in war.
You got a couple of generations of people that really don't know about it except through stories of their grandparents or parents, or if they know history or if they follow baseball or something," said Debbie Boyersmith, a volunteer at Eden Springs Park in Benton Harbor.
An original steam engine sits in a garage at Eden Springs Park, which was the former amusement park owned by the House of David on Tuesday Oct. The engine was given the name because the founder of the House of David, Benjamin Purnell, called himself the seventh messenger of God. But, you know, a good cult.”Benjamin Purnell was a twice-married former broom maker and traveling preacher from Kentucky who one day declared himself the seventh and final messenger of God, as foretold in the Book of Revelation.
Yet to this day, people talk about how fun they were.
I said I would go on living the same way with or without people because it's what I believe," said Ron Taylor, one of the last two members of Mary's City of David. He preached that Jesus was about to return to usher in a restoration of the Garden of Eden. The group taught that all sex was a sin, even for procreation.
Half a million tourists came every year to Eden Springs Park, the massive amusement park they operated featuring a bowling alley, a billiards parlor, a movie theater, a jewelry shop, a dance hall, a greenhouse, pony rides, souvenir stands, vaudeville shows and the world’s largest miniature railroad.
When a few of the colony’s long-haired men were refused jobs by the city because of their appearance, Benjamin Purnell bought a majority stake in the streetcar company, took over and staffed the cars with his tie-wearing, bushy-bearded, long-haired followers.
House of David founder Benjamin Purnell is seen standing with his followers outside of the House of David ice cream shop in Benton Harbor in a photo on display at the House of David Museum in St. BENTON HARBOR — Their members weren’t allowed to have sex.
No meat, no alcohol, no tobacco and no personal property, either.