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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. BENTON HARBOR — Their members weren’t allowed to have sex.No meat, no alcohol, no tobacco and no personal property, either.They built elaborate mansions to house all their followers.They even fielded one of the most popular baseball teams in the country at one time."People once asked me what would happen if it comes to an end. He and his wife Mary wound up in Benton Harbor in 1903 and started a commune called the Israelite House of David on land donated by a follower. And by 1916, more than a thousand people had joined him.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.But as odd as their appearance was — and as mysterious as their doctrine appeared — they endeared themselves to residents of Benton Harbor.“The people of the House of David were always regarded by people in the community as being kind and friendly and honest and helpful,” said Debbie Boyersmith, a local preservationist who would visit their park as a child. “They really were the most kindhearted people I ever met in my life,” said the 55-year-old. zoo -- founded by disabled vets -- heals animals, owners►Up North, a town fabricated from junk honors John Wayne►At this Michigan campground, nudity is just a way of life“I’ve loved history since I was a kid,” he said.
People younger than me don't typically remember it because it closed back in 1973.
But his true passion is the House of David baseball team, which has its own floor in his new museum just outside downtown St. House of David baseball began as a distraction from celibacy, Siriano said.
“They had a lot of teenage boys with a lot of pent-up energy.
If anything, it’s celebrated and promoted, and remnants of its past are being preserved or brought back to life by locals who were never even members. "People once asked me what would happen if it comes to an end.
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 surviving members of Mary's City of David.
They were like a city within a city, and when people out here talk about the old days, they inevitably mention the legend of the House of David.“They had a profound impact on Benton Harbor,” said Bob Myers, curator of the Berrien County Historical Association’s museum.” Anybody that grew up here, back in the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, early ‘70s, you hear that all the time.