#ThrowbackThursday: Stelle … The Ultimate Frontier

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Stelle subdivision entrance sign, n.d. Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stelle,_Illinois

Stelle subdivision entrance sign, n.d. Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stelle,_Illinois

Upon first glance, some might assume I made a Star Trek reference … but only if the title of this piece were “The Final Frontier”, then that would be an amazing cultural reference! Back on point, we are focusing on this beautiful and bright painting. It is from Stelle, an intentional community located in in Northeastern Illinois. According to the Fellowship of Intentional Community (n.d.), “An “intentional community” is a group of people who have chosen to live together with a common purpose, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. The people may live together on a piece of rural land, in a suburban home, or in an urban neighborhood, and they may share a single residence or live in a cluster of dwellings.”

Beginning in 1973, Stelle believed education was crucial to the community’s success and still is today. Stelle started as a spiritual community until they moved to the sustainability movement. Founder, Richard Kieninger, was a writer and teacher, was a part of multiple intentional communities across the United States. He wrote The Ultimate Frontier, prophesying on various topics, such as earth changes, improving one’s karma, future population size of Stelle, and many more. By the 1980’s, tensions arose between Kieninger and Stelle members because of infidelity accusations; moreover, the members of Stelle removed Kieninger in 1986. After his departure, Stelle maintains a close-knit community relationship through various events yearly (Weiner, 2011).

In the center of the painting are three individuals: (Left to right) Pharaoh Ahknaton (or Amenhotep IV), King David, and Stelle founder, Richard Kieninger, 1963. Credit: Paul Barber

“The Ultimate Frontier” Painting, 1963. Credit: Paul Barber

This painting was used for the 1963 revised version of Kieninger’s book, The Ultimate Frontier. The individuals represented are Pharaoh Ahknaton (or Amenhotep IV), King David, and Richard Kieninger. The painter was Paul Barber. It is currently located in the University Archives and Special Collection’s Communal Room. Their collection consists of publications, cassette recordings, photographs, correspondences, and many more!

Do you want to learn more about Stelle? Learn more about the community by visiting their website, Stelle Community.


Fellowship for Intentional Community. (n.d.) Intentional communities: Lifestyles based on ideals. Retrieved from http://www.ic.org/wiki/intentional-communities-lifestyles-based-ideals/

Weiner, D. (2011, January 6). Apocalypse never happened, by a community did. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/us/07cncstelle.html

This entry was posted in Communal Studies, Throwback Thursday. Bookmark the permalink.

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