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Soon, major league teams began scheduling exhibition games against them, games the pros would often lose.“They were good,” Siriano said of the House of David.

“They were very good.”For years, they reportedly had an average winning percentage of .750, and often made it through a season without losing once.

But his true passion is the House of David baseball team, which has its own floor in his new museum just outside downtown St. House of David baseball began as a distraction from celibacy, Siriano said.

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Half a million tourists came every year to Eden Springs Park, the massive amusement park they operated featuring a bowling alley, a billiards parlor, a movie theater, a jewelry shop, a dance hall, a greenhouse, pony rides, souvenir stands, vaudeville shows and the world’s largest miniature railroad.

When a few of the colony’s long-haired men were refused jobs by the city because of their appearance, Benjamin Purnell bought a majority stake in the streetcar company, took over and staffed the cars with his tie-wearing, bushy-bearded, long-haired followers.

More John Carlisle columns:►Reading the last chapter at Detroit's oldest bookstore►Mysterious light draws thrill seekers to a U. He collected thousands of House of David artifacts and opened museums in several locations.

He spent time with the group’s remaining members, helped renovate some of their properties, wrote books and produced documentaries on the group.

If anything, it’s celebrated and promoted, and remnants of its past are being preserved or brought back to life by locals who were never even members. "People once asked me what would happen if it comes to an end.

I said I would go on living the same way with or without people, because it's what I believe," said Ron Taylor, one of the last surviving members of Mary's City of David.House of David founder Benjamin Purnell is seen standing with his followers outside of the House of David ice cream shop in Benton Harbor in a photo on display at the House of David Museum in St. “It’s just a super mysterious, twisted, secret, unusual, fascinating story that touches everything from entertainment, to sports, to sex — or lack thereof — to religion, to everything,” Siriano said. Married couples who joined had to then regard themselves as brother and sister.Although its reputation was stained by the sex scandal, and some detractors called it a cult, there are a lot of people who still look back on the House of David’s heyday with affection and nostalgia.“Was it a cult? Since killing is a sin, their diet was strictly vegetarian, and members refused to serve in war.But as odd as their appearance was — and as mysterious as their doctrine appeared — they endeared themselves to residents of Benton Harbor.“The people of the House of David were always regarded by people in the community as being kind and friendly and honest and helpful,” said Debbie Boyersmith, a local preservationist who would visit their park as a child. “They really were the most kindhearted people I ever met in my life,” said the 55-year-old. zoo -- founded by disabled vets -- heals animals, owners►Up North, a town fabricated from junk honors John Wayne►At this Michigan campground, nudity is just a way of life“I’ve loved history since I was a kid,” he said.He grew up in Benton Harbor, earned a degree in history at college, moved back and began researching his hometown's past. “The more I read, the more I studied, everything touched back to the House of David.”He became obsessed.There are only a few members left now, keeping to themselves, waiting for the imminent day when Jesus returns and establishes his kingdom along Lake Michigan. Years after it disappeared from the public eye, the House of David still has an impact on Benton Harbor.

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