A few innovators have crafted a Koreshan crazy utopia idea just off the island in Fort Myers. It’s bold. It’s fun. And it’s just the kind of thing the adventurous traveler needs to check out when they make their way over to Sanibel Island.
What is the Idea?
In 1984, Dr. Cyrus Reed relocated from Chicago to Fort Myers to pursue his dream of an alternative world. The idea was shockingly simple: a community where everyone worked for the good of all. He helped grow a community that was fully self-sustainable. Without relying on outside influences, the people of his utopia baked their own bread, farmed, printed their own books, and developed a distinct artisan culture. They even went so far as to create their own boats and generate their own electricity.
The utopia was held together by gorgeous grounds that consisted of eleven different sites. The community allowed visitors and presented plays and musical recitals as the 20th century turned over.
While some may see nefarious undertones with this concept, the utopia thrived for years without any kind of obvious harm. As crazy as the idea seemed, it obtained a lot of support. Even Thomas Edison was friends with Reed. The two formed a creative and artistic friendship, and Edison visited the site for many of these artistic performances.
The community believed in Koreshanity, a religion of sorts built on some concise core principles. This included the equality of the sexes. The idea stressed that there should never be any distinct advantages or disadvantages of one gender over another.
They also believed in clear communal social organization. Every person contributed to a greater whole, and greed and capitalism were virtually non-existent. The community also believed in a dual-gendered god (both male and female) and reincarnation.
Unfortunately, Reed passed away within a decade of forming the community outside Fort Myers. Over the next 50 to 60 years, the community dwindled. It existed as a local novelty or oddity, with little influence but a core base of loyal believers.
In 1976, the site was formerly listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Shortly before, it was deeded to the state of Florida and the small community disbanded.
Koreshan State Park
The story of Koreshanity lives on. Some believers carry the mantle in other communities across the globe, but the core site of the culture exists in the Koreshan State Park.
The site of the community is open to the public and has evolved into a fascinating state park. You can explore the different park sites, including the famed Planetary Court. The building was used as a community meeting room. It was a council of seven women, each one representing a different planet.
A guided tour is $2 per person. The state park also has special showcases throughout the year. This may include a display of a working diesel engine from the early 20th century or a piano recital in the Art Hall.
While you can just explore the incredible building sites, there are other activities that focus on simple living and meditation. Camping services are available. You can also join in some canoeing, trail hiking, and geo-seeking for personal study and reflection.
It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. year-round. The website cites 365 opening days and is located at 3800 Corkscrew Rd. Estero, FL. There is a $5 entrance per vehicle.
Come visit Sanibel Island. You can partake in a wild list of activities. These include biking, camping, rollerblading, paddle boarding, shelling, horseback riding, and more. This is a world worth seeing in all its untapped glory.