I just read the most recent letter from preservationdirectory.com and am saddened that I just finally had the time to open the message. Sitting on the east side of Benton Harbor, Michigan is one of the most magnificent pieces of American architecture, the Shiloh House Mansion. It is a 100 room mansion built by the House of David religious colony in 1908, with nearly 30,000 square feet of living area, and absolutely spectacular woodwork and designs throughout its four floors. The home was placed on the National Register for Historic Places roughly 25 years ago, but nothing has ever been done to save it from deterioration. Today it is still in major need of restoration, and many from the area consider it the most important home in all of the Midwest, though it is not receiving any help. Please consider this home in your future articles for a plea to save this majestic old mansion, which the media once called "Michigan's Greatest Castle", and our local media calls the most important piece of history that Michigan holds. A little bit of history can be found about this mansion and its makers, along with other spectacular mansions built by the House of David colony during the early 20th century at www.houseofdavidmuseum.org.
The House of David was a religious colony much like the Shakers, and in 1905 started their own Pre-Disneyland type amusement park. They built magnificently designed mansions for their members, the creations of their own architects from Australia and Prussia, along with their own leaders ideas (Benjamin Purnell, who was born in Kentucky, and came to Michigan as an iternant preacher). Grand hotels were built by colony members, which still stand to this day as some of the most beautiful commercial buildings in all of America. The House of David recruited members from all over the globe starting in 1903, and eventually had massive wealth and huge holdings, as those that would join had to give up everything they owned for a promise to live forever. They had cruise ships on the Great Lakes, trolley cars, travelling baseball teams, vaudeville shows, orchestras, bands, thousands of acres of farmland, and so much more.
It might very well be some of the greatest history our country holds, and is being slowly forgotten. Please take a moment and consider doing what is possible to help make sure this magnificent place won't be allowed to fall to the ground, as so many other important buildings at the House of David have already done.
Chris Siriano, Curator
House of David Museum
2251 Riverside Road
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022