At one time, student mediums held readings at concrete pedestal tables on the camp's shaded grounds. |
Did you know that Indiana has sheltered a robust Spiritualist settlement—in a Madison County community called Camp Chesterfield—since the 1880s?
Modern American Spiritualism originated on the east coast in the mid-nineteenth century, and holds that communication with the dead is possible through mediums—humans capable of perceiving and interacting with spirits. Spiritualism’s popularity grew rapidly, its ranks bolstered by those seeking contact with loved ones lost in the Civil War. By 1880 there were at least 17 Spiritualist camps across the United States.
Camp Chesterfield began in 1886 as a seasonal gathering in tents on the banks of the White River. It became a permanent community with the 1890 purchase of a parcel of wooded land in Chesterfield. Over the last century-and-a-quarter, mediums at the camp have tried to serve the needs of all, from the bereft seeking comfort to the curious searching for answers beyond their everyday experience.
The once-tiny enclave now boasts 40 acres and counts among its historic structures and attractions the 800-seat Modernist Cathedral of the Woods, two hotels (one, The Sunflower, closed and endangered; the other, the 1948 Western, still offering bed and bath to those hoping to peer beyond), a cafeteria, a book store, an art gallery, resident mediums’ cottages, statuary and gardens. In 2002, Camp Chesterfield was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Consider a visit to the historic site during Camp Chesterfield's Psychic Fair or Spirit Fest events.