Koreshan State Park Preserves Wacky Florida History

By Bonnie Gross, Florida Rambler

Near Naples, Koreshan State Park is popular for camping, kayaking, history

One reason I love Koreshan State Park on Florida’s Gulf Coast is that it is so “on brand.” Leave it to Florida to have a historic state park preserving the story of an eccentric cult.

Koreshan State Park plays it very straight, soberly explaining “the Koreshan Unity believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere.”

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Such a Delightful Evening – Estero…In the Beginning

The Planetary Court in the Koreshan Unity Historic Settlement made a charming backdrop for the exquisite evening this past March. This fundraising event allowed guests to enjoy wine, cheese, and fine entertainment while supporting Koreshan State Park. Thank you to our incredible sponsors: Hyatt Regency Resort, Meridian Medical Spa, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Estero River Outfitters, Sunshine Health, Dr. & Mrs. Frank Rudy, FineMark Bank, Donna Walker, JL Consulting and Jim & Pat Sheehy, Trader Joe’s and Aqua Systems.

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How Did the Koreshan Unity Settlement Become Koreshan State Park?

Following the death of the founder of the Koreshans, Dr. Cyrus (Koresh) Teed, the Koreshan Unity went into decline. Several groups split from the Unity. One, “The Order of Theocracy,” formed in 1910 and moved to nearby Fort Myers where they lasted until 1931. One of the tracts they published (above) shows how they differed from the beliefs of the Koreshan Unity.

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Koreshan Art Hall Theater in Estero

Art Hall performance circa 1900

by Mimi Straub, Special to the Banner, April 26, 2006

The first Art Festival in Estero was held by the Koreshans in 1905 when they opened their newly built Art Hall, complete with a stage capable of seating their 28-piece orchestra and served as a location where they could have concerts, plays, and religious services for their 250 residents. Nearby homesteaders and neighbors also attended their concerts and plays.

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