Believing that he was the seventh (and final) messenger foretold by St. John in his Revelation, itinerate minister Benjamin Purnell and his wife Mary established the Israelite House of David in 1903. Located in Benton Harbor, Michigan, the House of David was a communal society organized around the Purnells’ religious credo and belief that through abstinence and personal self-denial one would prepare the body for everlasting life. At its peak, the House of David had nearly one thousand members, owned several successful business enterprises and was famous for its barnstorming baseball team. This exhibition features archival materials from the House of David and its splinter community, Mary’s City of David, and examines whether objects produced for communal or spiritual benefit can change in meaning when their context changes.
Organized by Consulting Director Ian Berry and Associate Director and Curator Susanna White, with Curator of Special Collections and Archives Christian Goodwillie.