Mount Carmel Center

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Mount Carmel Center
The Mount Carmel Center in April 1993
The Mount Carmel Center during the Waco siege, with an M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle bringing down the roof of the gymnasium
The location of the Branch Davidians' Mount Carmel Center in Texas
The location of the Branch Davidians' Mount Carmel Center in Texas
Location of the Mount Carmel Center in Texas
Alternative namesBranch Davidian compound
General information
Town or cityMcLennan County, Texas
CountryUnited States of America
Coordinates31°35′46″N 96°59′17″W / 31.596089°N 96.98804°W / 31.596089; -96.98804
Openingc. 1958
DestroyedApril 19, 1993

New Mount Carmel Center was the name of the Branch Davidian compound in the Axtell area outside Waco, Texas, United States, led first by Benjamin Roden and later David Koresh. Named after the Biblical mountain Mount Carmel in northern Israel, it was here that the Waco siege of 1993 occurred and the home burned, in which four ATF agents and 82 Branch Davidians died.[1]


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 base their beliefs:[citation needed]

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, Davidian founder Victor Houteff established the original Davidian headquarters, Mount Carmel Center, near Lake Waco, west of the town. After Houteff's death, 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.[2] In 1957, she sold off the last of the property, and bought a 941-acre (3.81 km2) property in the countryside northeast of Waco, christened New Mount Carmel.[3] Today, Waco's Mt. Carmel Drive runs through the Old Mt. Carmel area, and nearby Charboneau and Hermanson Drives are named after key Davidian families.

In 1962, Florence Houteff announced her intention to disband the 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 Mt. Carmel property ended up in the hands of the Double EE Ranch, but the Branch Davidians retained a core 77.8 acres around the administrative building.

Buildings at Mount Carmel Center in May 1995. They have since burned down.

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 Mt. Carmel, and in the early 1990s moved back to Waco. They established themselves in a building on Mt. 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 suspicious fire. 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.[4] 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.[5] Efforts to memorialize the events of 1993 on the property have been altered over the years since 1993.[6]


  1. ^ Verhovek, Sam (July 9, 1995). "No Martyrs in Waco". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  2. ^ Victor Houteff (September 1, 1954). "Symbolic Code Vol. 10, No.1" (PDF). The Universal Publishing Assn. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  3. ^ Pitts, William L. "Davidians and Branch Davidians". Handbook of Texas - Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  4. ^ "Fires Strike Waco Site". The New York Times. January 5, 1997. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  5. ^ Wittmer, Matthew D. "Memorializing Mount Carmel Center East of Waco, Texas - Chart A" (PDF). - Matthew D. Wittmer. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  6. ^ Wittmer, Matthew D. "Memorializing Mount Carmel Center East of Waco, Texas". - Matthew D. Wittmer. Retrieved 5 July 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°35′45″N 96°59′17″W / 31.59583°N 96.98806°W / 31.59583; -96.98806