Home, Washington

A pioneering experiment in anarchist living and free thought at the turn of the 20th century.

Founders: George H. Allen, Oliver A. Verity, and B. F. O’Dell
Founded: 1896
Location: Home, Washington, USA
Offshoot of: Glennis (industrial cooperative colony)

Home, Washington, emerged in the late 19th century as a notable experiment in anarchist community living. Established in 1896 by George H. Allen, Oliver A. Verity, and B. F. O’Dell after their departure from the Glennis Cooperative Industrial Company, Home was conceived as an intentional community grounded in the principles of anarchism. The founders sought to create a society that functioned without coercive authority, emphasizing mutual aid, voluntary cooperation, and individual liberty​​​​.

Located on Von Geldern Cove in Pierce County, the community initially spanned 26 acres, acquired for $7 an acre. It rapidly evolved into a refuge for anarchists, communists, nudists, and a variety of free thinkers who were often at odds with mainstream societal norms. Home attracted notable figures such as Elbert Hubbard, Emma Goldman, and William Z. Foster, who participated in the community’s vibrant culture of lectures, debates, and discussions on labor rights, women’s suffrage, and other pressing social issues of the time​​.

The community was structured around the Mutual Home Association, which managed the allocation of land and the operation of shared facilities like Liberty Hall and a trading post. Although the title to each member’s land initially remained with the Association, this policy was altered in 1909 to reflect individual ownership, a change that marked the community’s evolving approach to property and ownership​​.

Despite its innovative social experiment, Home faced significant challenges. Its radical ideologies and practices often brought it into conflict with neighboring communities and the authorities, leading to legal battles and internal disputes. The community’s commitment to free speech and expression, including its stance on sexual freedom and its publication of several anarchist periodicals, sparked controversy and legal scrutiny, particularly in the wake of the assassination of President McKinley by an anarchist in 1901. These controversies culminated in the closure of Home’s post office in 1902 under the Comstock Act, following the publication of articles advocating free love​​.

Home also experienced internal divisions, notably between factions labeled as “nudes” and “prudes.” This rift, fueled by differing views on social norms and the legality of nude swimming, contributed to the community’s decline. The debate over clothing-optional policies reflected broader tensions within the community between conservative and liberal ideologies​​.

By 1919, the combination of external pressures and internal conflicts led to the dissolution of the Mutual Home Association and the end of the Home Colony as an anarchist community. Despite its relatively short lifespan, Home left a lasting legacy as a bold attempt to live out anarchist principles and provided a unique chapter in the history of American utopian experiments​​.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *