Koreshan State Park Celebrates Women’s History Month and the Women’s Right to Vote Centennial

In 1894, something extraordinary was happening along the banks of Mosquito Creek in what is now known as Koreshan State Park. Dr. Cyrus Teed had sent down the first group of his followers from Chicago to clear land and begin building what would be the foundations of his vision of a religious-utopian community called the Koreshan Unity Settlement.

By 1900, over 200 of Dr. Teed’s followers, over 70% of which were women, had established roots in Estero, Florida along the re-named Estero River, where they remained until 1982 with the death of the last Koreshan.

During Women’s History Month, the park will share some of the real-life stories of these women, who led unusual and amazing lives in the closing years of the 19th century. Women at the Unity Settlement enjoyed a level of equality, leadership and self-empowerment long before women had even earned the right to vote. The Koreshans supported the Women’s Suffrage movement and so 2020 is a very special time to honor these women pioneers of the Settlement.

Women’s History Month 2020 Events:

Special Public tours – March 2, 13 and 27 at 11:00 am
Meet Koreshan women who talk about their time here in the Settlement on this 90-minute woman-led historical tour. Tickets: $10.

Private Group March Tours
Private group tours available for $15 per person, 10-person minimum. Click here to schedule.

Evening Events – March 17 and 24

March 17 at 7:00 pm in Art Hall
Cyrus Teed: An American Messiah – Come and hear Adam Morris, author of American Messiahs, talk about Koreshan Unity Settlement founder Cyrus Teed and his significant role in the formation of this religious utopian community. Tickets: $15. Seating limited.

March 24 at 7:00 pm in Art Hall
Evening of the Koreshans’ Music – A very special evening with Dr. Thomas Cimarusti from Florida Gulf Coast University who presents a talk and samples of music from the Koreshan archive surrounding their annual Lunar Festival. Tickets: $15. Seating limited.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. 

Every dollar raised by these special events will assist Koreshan State Park continue to tell the exceptional story of this religious-utopian community and its rich contribution to Florida history.

Ghost Walk – A Time Travel Through History

The Koreshans brought culture and industry to Southwest Florida. They owned and operated many businesses in the Historic Settlement, including a machine shop, general store, bakery, post office and school.

For more than a quarter century, Koreshan State Park and Friends of Koreshan have offered guests a view of the life and times of Dr. Cyrus Teed, their founder, and the Koreshans with the theatrical production, Ghost Walk. In each one-hour performance, volunteers in period costumes guide you through a historical journey along the candlelit shell paths of the Historic Unity Settlement.

You will stroll past restored buildings from a bygone era and watch Koreshan reenactors scenes from their lives before, during, and after they settled in Southwest Florida.

In the first scene, you will witness the tension between Dr. Teed and Gustav Damkohler, the German homesteader who, while grieving for his recently deceased wife and children, had sold Teed 300 acres of land along the Estero River for the Koreshan Unity, and now regrets that decision.

In scene two, join prospective members of the Unity as Professor Eleanor Castle gives them an orientation on Koreshan beliefs. The Koreshans were unique, promoting racial and gender equality in a time where racism and gender inequality were rampant. At least one prospect finds some of their beliefs a bit too much to bear.

In scene three, we visit some Unity men and learn about their work, personal lives and sacrifices they endured in following Dr. Teed and his utopian vision—and the epic mistake one of them made.

While the charismatic Dr. Teed traveled, evangelizing and promoting Unity membership, the women of the Planetary Court ran the community. Despite the Koreshans’ belief in equality, in scene four, which features some of these women, you will learn that some Unity members were “more equal than others.”

In scene five, the women of the Planetary Court mourn Dr. Teed’s death and ponder the future of the Koreshan Unity.

Enjoy treats made from Koreshan recipes at the restored Bakery in scene six, and get a glimpse into the lives of the bakers who were not only responsible for feeding the Unity, but also meeting a growing demand for their “risin’ bread” from the outside community.

In scene seven, join Vesta Newcomb and an old friend as they reminisce about their early life in the Unity, and how they—and the Unity are adapting to the changing times.

In scene eight, volunteers crank up the 1925 Fairbanks Morse engine that powers the Westinghouse generator and provided the “miracle of light” for the settlement.

Ghost Walk 2020 showtimes are at 6:45, 7:00, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45 and 8:00 PM on Jan 31st & Feb 1st, Feb 7th and 8th. Tickets are $25.00. Performances sell out quickly! To purchase your tickets, click here.

Ghost Walk Volunteers Needed!

Hello Everyone!

My name is Shawn Woodsmith.  I am the coordinator for the Koreshan Ghost Walk.

It is that time of year again where I need to start working on Ghost Walk.  Ghost Walk is the play we put on at Koreshan State Park, the last weekend in January and first weekend in February.  It is a great fundraiser for the park!  The best part is all the funds raised stay here in our park. Continue reading “Ghost Walk Volunteers Needed!”

Help Us Save Our Buildings!

We have a problem! The roofs of our beautiful structures are leaking and causing water damage.  The Florida State Park Service has placed a tarp on the roof of the Art Hall and have plans to replace some roofs, but the need for maintenance, repair and restoration doesn’t end there. The Planetary Court needs a roof, the New Store, Bakery and Industrial Area buildings need restoration and preservation. We know you are thinking:  “Why doesn’t the park service do everything?”

Continue reading “Help Us Save Our Buildings!”