Utopia Dreamin'

Koreshan State Historic Site in Estero, located slightly south of Fort Myers, marries nature and history. Koreshan Park, an erstwhile utopian community, is a testament to Cyrus Teed's ingenuity and bizarre vision of the universe. Teed, who used the biblical name Koresh, organized a religion based on very unpopular ideas. His dogmas stemmed from what he called a "divine illumination," where the secrets of the universe were revealed to him by a female manifestation of God. Upon his vision, Teed became aware of his own immortality and duty to reinterpret the Bible using a scientific approach. The hollow earth theory was paramount among his teachings, which placed all matter inside the earth with the sun and planets encompassing the center.

In 1894, Teed brought his loyal following to Estero to form a settlement for the Koreshan faith. They created a self-sufficient community of communal living and property. Though membership never reached anywhere near the millions projected, their efforts were not in vain. They constructed magnificent buildings and maintained geometrically significant gardens. Their sect persevered for many decades but eventually began to disintegrate in the early 1960s. The surviving members eventually donated the 305 acres of land to the state of Florida.

The Koreshan settlement features an array of well-preserved structures. Highlights include a planetary court, an art hall, a bakery, cottages, machine shops and an electric generator building. The museum has an informative video that captures the essence of the Koreshan faith and its members' achievements. The park also features a 60-site campground (make reservations), a nature trail, canoeing, fishing and boating. Special events are ongoing and vary throughout the year, so call ahead.

The park is open 8 a.m. to sunset all year. Entrance fee is $3.25 per car. Take I-75 South to Exit 123 (Corkscrew Road), head west for 2 miles, cross U.S. 41 and continue on Corkscrew Road for approximately 1,000 yards to the park entrance. Call 239-992-0311.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.