Considered by many preservationists to be one of the top art environments in the world, Samuel P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden was Kohler Foundation’s largest preservation project to date.
Dinsmoor (1843-1932), a retired school teacher, Civil War veteran, farmer, and Populist Politian, began building the Garden of Eden and Cabin Home in 1907 at the age of 64. He fashioned 113 tons of cement and many tons of limestone into his eleven-room limestone “log” cabin home and the 150 surrounding sculptures. The sculptures and design of the house reflect Dinsmoor's belief in the Populist movement and his religious convictions. The Garden of Eden is located in Lucas, Kansas, a community of less than 500 people, but the Garden of Eden attracts over 10,000 people a year.
Intensive art conservation treatment was required to repair and bring the Garden of Eden back to the condition S.P. Dinsmoor intended. Two art conservators from International Artifacts of Pearland, Texas with a rotating staff of 4-6 technical assistants worked daily over a five-month period to complete their treatment.
The site has been gifted to the Friends of S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas. They will steward the site into the future. The Garden of Eden is open to the public and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kohler Foundation is committed to the preservation of art environments and important collections, as well as Wisconsin culture and heritage. In the past, Kohler Foundation’s preservation efforts were focused almost entirely in the state of Wisconsin. However, the Foundation is committed to expanding its preservation efforts nationwide. In some cases, artists have transformed their homes and/or their yards into powerful and unique works of art; some have built chapels and grottos, while others created literally hundreds of life-size or over-life-size sculptures and murals that cover entire buildings.
Kohler Foundation has initiated and completed many major restorations, among them: The Painted Forest at Valton, Wisconsin; Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips, Wisconsin; Paul and Matilda Wegner Grotto at Cataract, Wisconsin; Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden and Museum near Cochrane, Wisconsin; Nick Engelbert’s Grandview in Hollandale, Wisconsin, Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield, Ohio; Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and Kenny Hill's Chauvin Sculpture Environment in Chauvin, Louisiana.
Kohler Foundation's most recent site preservation projects include the Garden of Eden sculpture park in Lucas, Kansas, Pasaquan in Buena Vista, Georgia, and the Langlais Preserve in Cushing, Maine. Many of our Wisconsin sites are included in Wandering Wisconsin, a consortium of art environments in the state. All of Kohler Foundation's preserved sites, along with a few relocated sculptures or major collections that are accessible to the public on an ongoing basis
(excerpted from the Kohler Foundation website)