In 1869, Dr. Cyrus Reed Teed had a divine illumination. He claimed that during his vision, the answer to all of life was shown to him by a divine spirit. Spreading his influential word, he and his followers believed that the entire earth and universe were a hollow sphere.
They conducted many experiments that seemed to confirm their beliefs. One experiment stretched a taught line between two stakes on the beach. It proved [to the followers] that the horizon curved upwards! The doctor still managed to draw a following for his new religion (Koreshanity) of up to 200+ people during its peak. Up until the early 1980’s the religion still had a few followers.
In 1894, the Koreshantians, moved to southwest Florida to escape Chicago’s disdain towards this strange cult. Free from religious persecution in the wilds of south Florida, Koresh, the now self-named doctor, planned to build a New Jerusalem. Fields were cleared and buildings were erected. They built a large printing facility, boat yard, cement works and bakery to produce the things they needed and plenty to sell, making the money they needed to maintain there existence in south Florida.
Today, the state park service maintains the remainder of the Koreshans collection of art, science experiments and the eleven buildings that remain. Most of the buildings are available to tour and several ranger led tours are available throughout the year. Teachers from all over Florida come here each year with their class to explore the rich history of this strange Florida religion.
The best building is the planetary court. This was the structure that housed the seven women, each who represented a sign of the zodiac. They ruled over the followers and ran day to day life at Koreshan.
Koreshan State Historic Site offers today’s visitors 60 full facility campsites with electricity and water, a boat ramp and plenty of other great amenities. Access to the Estero River for fishing and boating makes this a great place to stay. Winter travelers will find this no snow winter vacation a break from the normal Florida vacation.
For more information on directions to the park, fees and reservations or other park information, visit the official Koreshan State Historic Site website here.