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Mary's City of David Hotel

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1922–1923; 1931 alterations and remodeling. 163 Colfax Ave.
  • (Photograph by Roger Funk)

The House of David religious colony, a cooperative utopian community, built this eccentric four-story, one-hundred-room hotel as one of its largest income-producing properties. After the death of Benjamin (King Ben) Purnell (1861–1927), the commune's leader, it was operated by his estranged widow, Mary (Queen Mary) Purnell (1862–1953), and the City of David religious sect that splintered off from the main colony, the House of David ( BE9), in 1930.

The steel-framed former hotel is built of glistening gray rock-faced concrete blocks, which were manufactured by the House of David colony. To the aggregate were added hematite chips. This highly romantic surface treatment animates the bizarre fluted and festooned colossal columns that mark the rounded corner entrance. Similar columns divide the block into four bays on one side and five bays on the other, each containing triplet windows; columns also appear to support the roofline cornice and the wooden balustrade. Bracket-supported, rounded-corner sills project in a shelflike manner under the windows that flank the corner bay, further emphasizing the entrance. This building was one of the largest constructed by the House of David commune and is an impressive downtown landmark. Today Landmark Property Redevelopment, LLC, owns the hotel.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Mary's City of David Hotel", [Benton Harbor, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 230-230.

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