The Historic District of Mary's City of David

The Historic District of Mary's City of David (HM1JQ4)

Location: Benton Harbor, MI 49022 Berrien County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 6.501', W 86° 25.778'

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National Register of Historic Places

— Listed by the Keeper of the National Register, April 15, 2009 —

Officially beginning on 14 March, 1930, Mary Purnell's reorganization of the Israelite House of David began in a very humble fashion on newly acquired properties along Britain and Eastman Avenues. With four agricultural properties, an unfinished and vacant hotel building in the city and these parcels began a chapter of the Christian-Israelite history that is unparalleled in its building and economic success at the outset of the nation's economic disaster of the Great Depression. By 1937, Mary Purnell had successfully directed the construction for most of the 80-some buildings while adding several hundred acres to her original lots along Eastman Avenue at Britain, which today is the heart of the historic district of Mary's City of David.

Mary's Purnell's success lay not only in her administrative skills, but her rise to become the voice of the Christian-Israelite movement (dating back to the Philadelphian Society of 1652) with her continuing publications that positioned her as an authority in attracting many new members from an international following.

During its years of economic presence in SW Michigan, Mary's City of David owned and operated several of Berrien County's largest farms bolstering the Benton Harbor open-air fruit market as it became the nation's largest "cash to grower" market. Her baseball team became the most celebrated of all the House of David ball clubs in carrying on the tradition of professional excellence through the 1956 season. She welcomed and hosted a summer season Jewish resort from 1930 through the mid 1960s that included the Gate of Prayer Synagogue and the adjoining Rabbi's house. Mary's City of David built and operated a bakery and resort vegetarian restaurant with an accompanying vegetarian cookbook in 1934 that successfully served the resort guests and the area into the mid 1960s.

Property restoration began in 1991, to which a museum and tours programme was initiated in 1997, answering requests from two area historical organizations and the SW Michigan Tourist Council. The coordination of restoration work and museum attraction has enhanced both the success and preservation of the Israelite community now recognized by Department of the Interior, so placing it upon the National Register of Historic Places in America.
HM NumberHM1JQ4
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, March 21st, 2015 at 5:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 547156 N 4661963
Decimal Degrees42.10835000, -86.42963333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 6.501', W 86° 25.778'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 6' 30.06" N, 86° 25' 46.68" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)269
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 38-98 Eastman Ave, Benton Harbor MI 49022, US
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