"But there is that other place, 'the fifth wall,' erected in shadow and hidden by the architect, which perplexes us. I vowed early on to dedicate myself to discovering these 'fifth walls' and perhaps walk through a long locked door or two."
THE Fifth Wall Society was founded by Drs. Heathcliff and Nan Meriwood (Cliff and 'Doc,' respectively) in London, England in 1938. Dr. Meriwood saw a clear need for a formal organization to discover and research phenomena which he described as "the stories that lie in the margins of history books, whether forgotten, overlooked, or intentionally obfuscated."
While it's uncertain, many believe The Society was formed shortly after a strange and unknown illness befell several students at Whitelands College in 1935. Whitelands was the university where Dr. Meriwood lectured and his wife attended at the time.
Because of the threat the Second World War posed to London in 1940, the school was moved to a safer location in Homerton at the University of Cambridge. But the Meriwoods decided the time was right to relocate to America, specifically Doc's hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
The Society thrived in the decades after the war. Chapters were opened in many cities across the U.S. including Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans. Hundreds of Society members were trained by the Meriwoods personally, instructing them on the methods of recognition, problem-solving, research, and resolution (or containment, where necessary).
After Dr. Meriwood's death in 1978 and Doc's passing in 1992, The Society saw membership and engagement decline. In 2002, after several years teetering on the edge of closure, a young and intrepid member (one of the last trained under Doc herself) began a bold and ambitious plan to inject new life into the languishing organization . . .
Returning from a two year assignment in Budapest, Hungry, Richard Velaine was invigorated to try something new. He suggested investing most of The Society's remaining treasury in the burgeoning Asian markets. With a much needed cash flow, The Society initiated aggressive new member recruitment drives that centered around fun and immersive experiences that excited the new generations of investigators and adventurers.
Today, that drive continues. Under Executive Director Velaine's guidance, The Fifth Wall Society pledges to be a recognized presence far into the 21st Century.
What is "The Fifth Wall?"
Dr. Cliff Meriwood wanted his new organization's name to reflect its values. Here's what he had to say to CBS's Morton Dean in an interview shortly before his death:
"Metaphorically speaking, we live in a world of four walls. These walls are familiar to us, they represent the norms which we are accustomed. But there is that other place, 'the fifth wall,' erected in shadow and hidden by the architect, which perplexes us. I vowed early on to dedicate myself to discovering these 'fifth walls' and perhaps walk through a long locked door or two."
Current project highlights
- Field services dealing with the "piranha bird" infestation of the Canchis Province, Peru;
- Recovery and study of the 'Houdini Trap' discovered in Detroit, Michigan;
- Investigation of a recently unearthed artifact with unknown properties from the "City of Midas," Afyon, Turkey;
- Kirby, Wyoming: Series of interviews with a 14 year old girl who woke from a two year coma speaking several Native American languages. She was previously unexposed;
- The Detroit field office is wrapping up its three year investigation of the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance;