The Sunday porch: Estero, Florida


“Tent house on Koreshan property in Estero, Florida,” 1895, via Koreshan Unity Collection, Florida Memory Commons on flickr (State Library and Archives of Florida).

The Koreshan Unity was a late 19th and early 20th century utopian community whose members believed in a god that was both male and female, as well as in reincarnation, celibacy, collectivism, equality of the sexes, and cellular cosmogony.* It was founded by Cyrus Teed in upstate New York in the 1870s, and later there were also followers in Chicago and San Francisco. In 1894, the community began moving to a donated 320-acre property in Estero, Florida. During the next decade, it purchased over 5,000 additional acres and began building a settlement that “included a sawmill, cement works, bakery, machine shop, general store, art gallery, symphony, theater troupe, plant nursery and more,” according to USA Today. Its population peaked at 250 residents between 1903 and 1908; the majority were well-educated middle-class women, seven of whom managed the day-to-day affairs of the commune.

When Teed died in 1908 — and his body was not resurrected as he had promised — the commune began to decline; there were 10 members left in 1948. The last Koreshans deeded the site of its village to the state of Florida in 1961. It is now a state park.


*”Among the most interesting beliefs of Koreshan Unity was the cellular cosmogony, or the hollow earth,” according to Florida Memory.  “According to the cellular cosmogony, the earth was not a convex sphere but instead a hollow, concave cell containing the entire universe with the sun at its center and Earth’s populace living on the inside surface of the hollow cell.”

The Sunday porch: Georgia

House with picket fence, man and dog seated on the porch.“[H]ouse with picket fence, man and dog seated on porch and a dog lying on the sidewalk,” Georgia, ca. 1899, photographer unknown, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This photo was in one of the several albums depicting African-American life that W. E. B. Du Bois compiled to exhibit at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair.

Click on the image for a little better view.

The Sunday porch: Williamsboro, N.C.

 “Blooming Hope” (also called “Cedar Walk”), Williamsboro, North Carolina, 1938, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

I like the way the vines are a little blurry from a sudden gust of wind.

The home may have been built as early as the 1750s by a Hutchins (or possibly Robert) Burton, who called it “Blooming Hope.” He may have operated a boarding school there. It also seems to have served as an academy for young ladies later in the early 1800s, run by the Rev. Henry Patillo. At some point in its first 100 years, there was a suicide in the house (either Burton or Patillo’s son), and it acquired a reputation as haunted. It was torn down in 1967.

The Sunday porch: sewing circle

mothers-verandah-2-1908-deseronto-archives-on-flickr

“House Verandah. Mother, Winifred, Helen & Mrs Kingsmill,” Deseronto, Ontario, July 1908, via Harold McMurrich Rathbun’s Negatives album, Deseronto Archives Commons on flickr.

The Rathbuns were a prominent family in Deseronto.  About the time of this photo, The Rathbun Company owned a local shipyard and saw mill and a number of other businesses. At least two of its men had served as mayor around the turn of the 20th century. However, markets changed, woods stock were depleted, and fires destroyed their docks and other property. “[The] core timber and minerals resource businesses were dead by 1916 . . . . The company surrendered its charter in 1923,” according to Wikipedia.

Life in gardens: roof garden

roof-garden-1924-city-of-toronto-archives
“Yonge St. Mission, Mr. & Mrs. J. C. Davis on roof garden,” Toronto, July 29, 1924, via The Globe and Mail Collection (Fond 1266, Item 3318), City of Toronto Archives.

John Coolidge Davis founded the Yonge Street Mission in the 1890s, handing out food and clothing to the poor from a “gospel wagon.” In 1904, the Mission purchased the building at 381 Yonge Street, now called the Evergreen Centre for Street Youth.