Mount Carmel Center
The New Mount Carmel Center was a large compound used by the Branch Davidians religious group in the Axtell area outside Waco, Texas, United States. The Branch Davidians were a breakaway sect from Sheperd's Rod, established by Benjamin Roden in 1959 and then led by David Koresh starting in the 1980s. Named after the Biblical mountain Mount Carmel in northern Israel, it was the site of the 51-day Waco siege. The siege began on February 28, 1993, when federal agents attempted to execute a warrant and arrest some Davidians living inside. A subsequent firefight left four ATF agents and six Davidians dead. At the end of the siege, on April 19, 1993, a fire burned through most of the compound, killing 76 Branch Davidians.
|Mount Carmel Center|
The Mount Carmel Center during the Waco siege, with an M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle bringing down the roof of the gymnasium
|Alternative names||Branch Davidian compound|
|Town or city||McLennan County, Texas|
|Country||United States of America|
|Destroyed||April 19, 1993|
Some news reports about the siege referred to it as the "Branch Davidian compound". The name derives from a particular verse from the Bible, on which the Branch Davidians partially based their beliefs:
Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings. Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.— Micah 7:14
In 1935, Shepherd's Rod (also known as the Davidians) founder Victor Houteff established the original Davidian headquarters, Mount Carmel Center, near Lake Waco, west of the town. After Houteff's death in 1955, and according to his wishes, his widow Florence began selling off parcels of the land, as the neighboring city of Waco began to expand around the edges of the Mount Carmel Community. In 1957, she sold off the last of the property and bought a 941-acre (381 ha) property in the countryside northeast of Waco, christened New Mount Carmel. Today, Waco's Mount Carmel Drive runs through the Old Mount Carmel area, and nearby Charboneau and Hermanson Drives are named after key Davidian families.
In 1962, Florence Houteff announced that she was disbanding Houteff's Davidian organization, with the assets to be sold off and the proceeds disbursed among her Executive Council. This arrangement was opposed by many members. Most of the New Mount Carmel property was acquired by the Double EE Ranch, but the Branch Davidians retained a core 77.8-acre (31.5 ha) area around the administrative building.
The fragmentation of Mount Carmel caused a schism in the already permanently-splintered Davidian Seventh Day Adventist Movement. Some post-Carmel Davidian groups have also named their headquarters Mount Carmel Center and seek to carry on its past traditions. Davidians based in Salem, South Carolina use the name, as well as a group that broke away from them, in Mountaindale, New York. Some of the Mountaindale Davidians came to believe that Victor Houteff never wanted to abandon Old Mount Carmel, and in the early 1990s moved back to Waco. They established themselves in a building on Mount Carmel Drive, constructed by Houteff's Davidians. They are across the street from the Vanguard School, a prep school whose buildings were also originally built by the Davidians. Other Davidian groups believe that Mount Carmel represented a doctrinal era in the Davidian Seventh Day Adventist Movement, an era which is now past.
In 1998, three buildings at the former Branch Davidian compound were destroyed in a fire that was deemed suspicious. They were the home of Amo Bishop Roden, wife of former Branch Davidian leader George Roden, and two museums she used to record the group's history. There have been various sects and generations of communities that have resided on and/or used the property east of Waco on Double EE Ranch Road. Not all groups or individuals within these groups share the same religious theology or approach to spirituality. Efforts to memorialize the events of 1993 on the property have been altered over the years since 1993.
- Victor Houteff (September 1, 1954). "Symbolic Code Vol. 10, No.1" (PDF). The Universal Publishing Assn. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
- Pitts, William L. "Davidians and Branch Davidians". Handbook of Texas - Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
- "Fires Strike Waco Site". The New York Times. January 5, 1997. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
- Wittmer, Matthew D. "Memorializing Mount Carmel Center East of Waco, Texas - Chart A" (PDF). Stormbound.org - Matthew D. Wittmer. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 April 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
- Wittmer, Matthew D. "Memorializing Mount Carmel Center East of Waco, Texas". Stormbound.org - Matthew D. Wittmer. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
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