A meeting was held at #4 North Street at the home of Mrs. Mary C. Lyman in the early part of the Camp Season of 1892. The purpose of the meeting was to organize a discussion group. As weather permitted meetings were held in the grove in the North East woods of Lily Dale. Athelston Gaston a Congressman from Meadville, Pa. made the suggestion to name the meetings Forest Temple and it was adopted.
The purpose of the meetings was discussion of Spiritualist subjects and conditions of the Country concerning Free Thinker Ideals. Sitting benches with backs were arranged in rows and usually the senior most respected person acted as moderator. Meetings were held at 9:30am and 4:30pm. Many lively discussions occurred. In 1897 a nightly “Thought Exchange” meeting was held at 6:30pm and continued for many years.
Benjamin Bartlet, a wealthy Spiritualist from Cambridge Springs Pa. had a building constructed in 1914 at his expense and it was dedicated to his mother. This dedication plaque can still be seen on the inside wall of the Forest Temple Building. The Cummings Farm property was located along the East side of Lily Dale property. The Pig Barns can be seen in many of the older photographs of the Forest Temple Meetings.
Lily Dale purchased the Cummings property in 1923 and the Pig Barns were removed for obvious reasons. Imagine the aroma during the heat of the Summer Camp Meetings. At this time I am not sure when the outside Message Services began or when messages started at the meetings so I will not guess.
The Forest Temple Park area is another one of Lily Dale’s oldest and most revered gathering places to this day.